After many years of coaching team leaders and working with their individual goals, I wanted to explore how team coaching and group coaching could make a difference for the team leader, the team, the organisation and ultimately the wider world of work. I started following my curiosity and asked those before me - What types of 'one to many' coaching formats are there and what makes a great team coach?
Being known as a 'commercial coach' reminded me that first I needed to research what was needed by the market place. What do team leaders need and how could I best serve this need. What I found is that teams need coaches to be their 'thinking partner' in the same way as a 1-1 coach. They need space and time to co-create a plan of change through discovery of their collective self-awareness and they need connection and conversation to take responsibility for that change.
I learnt from those before me that to hold that 'thinking space' for all the teams voices to be heard took facilitation skills, presence and a level of team dynamics knowledge that I needed to learn, practice and adapt to to make an impact. As with 1-1coaching, team coaching has a set of competencies to align with and to improve my professional edge a qualification was the next step - but which?
To support this choice I explored some of the core definitions of one to many coaching interventions and found the understanding of team coaching as an intervention was often confusing. I hope in this piece to outline my understanding of what is on offer and explain why I chose to learn more about them to be able to offer the services to my clients.
"Grounded in our core coaching competencies, group coaching brings the coaching conversation into a small group context. It is an intimate conversation space, focused on goal setting, deepening awareness around key issues, taking action, and accountability." Jennifer Britton
Now as I understand group coaching, I see that for some sessions the agenda is not set and the group coaching is free-flow allowing the group to meet its collective needs through individuals and there mindful participation and learning style preferences. For some contracts the topic can be set up in advance to which the coach attends and facilitates the discussion and group dynamics. We are careful to contract for what we bring to the session by way of content as it is important for the coach to not be seen as the expert in the thinking and for the group to benefit from the collective wisdom in the room.
"Develop a climate of psychological safety, conducive to collective learning. Team members learn to have open dialogue, to share concerns and fears and to work with constructive, empathetic challenge. As a result they build deeper levels of trust and higher quality of collaboration." Prof David Clutterbuck
Team coaching brings more of a group learning edge to a group defined as a working team and might involve discussion around agenda setting and content sharing if this is conducive to moving the team to expand their awareness and think differently. Team and leadership models are most commonly shared around which coaching questions are asked of the team. The coaching encourages the team to self-coach change for themselves as a whole as well as individuals. The benefits of the collaboration result in improvements to team performance.
Systemic Team Coaching
"Systemic Coaching integrates individual and team coaching approaches into a larger holistic systemic approach, aligning needs of individuals and their teams with organisation goals and key results and can extend to the ecosystems in which the work sits". Dr. Peter Hawkins
Systemic team coaching shines a light of the team and its connections inside and outside of the team and its connection to it's purpose, the future of the organisation and potentially beyond the organisation. The coaching involves thinking differently at new levels and the coach must work to listen and provide support for the team practically, intuitively and in partnership with the team over a longer period of time.
Dr. Peter Hawkins, professor of leadership at Henley Business School, writes that organisations need systemic team coaching to support teams with what he describes as the ‘unholy trinity of challenges’ that companies now face. These are: increasing demands from stakeholders as a whole, greater expectations of quality and the diminishing availability of resources. He more recently writes about how thinking systemically can support conversations that leaders may not be thinking that coaches can handle for example: sustainability and climate change, neurodiversity in teams, diversity and inclusion and team wellbeing.
According to International Coaching Federation research, team coaching is currently the fastest growing area within coaching as a whole. 70% of leading organisations say they intend to invest in team coaching over the next two years and at all levels.
Hearing all of this, I dived into thinking what qualifications would enable my 'best work' to happen. What I didn't realize then is how I would challenge myself to enact my values into making a wider difference to wider systems and learn how powerful the coaching industry can be.
I chose to take my qualifications in Systemic Team Coaching as I recognized that my skills in being a 'thinking partner' for clients needed a team value creating framework that I could share with a team to support not only them but the wider organisation. I also dared to think about the difference might make to the wider systems that business operates in and how commercial thinking and future thinking around inequities in the world might collide for the greater good of mankind.
As part of the qualification my work with a technology business integrity team in 2021 taught me that this notion of doing more important work through coaching is possible. I am still dealing with my imposter syndrome who speaks to me loudly asking "Who are you to guide such big conversations" but in reply I ask myself "if not me than who will ever feel equipped to try?"
I am excited by my qualification and the application in my work and I am ready to share my Systemic Team Coaching model, case studies and testimonials with the team leaders I have coached and hope that you may be ready to share or refer me to someone who might like a conversation to explore this coaching intervention themselves. Katef