It’s hard to deny that team coaching is ‘having a moment’: whenever I log into LinkedIn, scan the prospectuses of the coaching schools or look at the books, articles, webinars and podcasts that are available – it’s all about team coaching. And while I love 1:1 coaching, facilitating groups and delivering leadership development workshops, I believe that, euro for euro, team coaching delivers best bang for any organisation’s buck. Here’s why:
Firstly – everybody’s under pressure and relationships can get bent out of shape. Dealing with the conflict appears difficult and so it festers – often silently. While each individual wants to do their best, as a whole the team ends up being less than the sum of its parts. Team coaching helps teams to have the conversations that they need to have, to build trust and to truly engage with their shared endeavour.
Secondly – while individual coaching and mentoring are really useful, sometimes the issue can’t be solved by one individual leader; but only by the whole team, working together. With team coaching, there is collective focus on the issues and collective ownership of the decisions and actions.
Finally, teams face so much complexity – like competing stakeholder demands, matrixed organisations, politics, the needs of virtual teams – meaning that team members are pulled in all directions and team coherence and momentum can be lost. Team coaching helps the team to pare back to important priorities and to strategically structure itself around delivering these. In the process, the team often discovers untapped synchronicities. Often the impact of the work is immediate allowing the team to transform and develop while still providing business as usual.
My part of the team coaching world is systemic which means not just working with the team in front of you and their immediate requirements – but working with their whole system: their stakeholders, their goals, their history and even their future.
Inviting an outsider like me into the room creates a changed dynamic. While it may seem counter-intuitive, it settles the team, creates safety and helps members to surface and deal with real issues. Funnily enough, the ‘presenting issue’ (the issue that most of the team members individually talk about) often simply fades away as the team engages at a deeper level.
Working with teams is absorbing, exhausting and just a bit scary. I’m glad it is having a moment and fascinated to see where it leads for my practice and the teams I am privileged to work with.