3 Things Dogsledding Has Taught Me About Teams

3 Things Dogsledding Has Taught Me About Teams

Post by George Johnson, Vision Coach & Chief Vision Officer at The Team Coaching Zone

I recently went dogsledding in the Superior National Forest outside of Grand Marais, Minnesota and it was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. It was a bright, sunny day with the temperature near zero. We were lucky to have fresh snow from the night before, and we dog sledded 17 miles in about 2 hours. As a customer, the whole experience couldn’t have been any better. (more…)

How Would You Coach a Team If You Had Only One Hour?

How Would You Coach a Team If You Had Only One Hour?

Post by George Johnson, Vision Coach and Chief Vision Officer at The Team Coaching Zone

60 minutes isn’t a lot of time to get through to one person, let alone a team… Or so you may think. In a podcast by the Team Coaching Zone, distinguished university professor Dr. Richard Boyatzis opened up on his thoughts surrounding this key question: if you only had one hour, how would you spend that time coaching an executive?

With over 5500 hours of coaching experience, I can’t imagine that this was a simple question for him to answer! But as one of the most respected team coaches in the industry, his response was, of course, spot on:

Dr. Boyatzis recommended the following breakdown of time over an hour:

  • 30 minutes focused on vision
  • 20 minutes focused on strengths
  • 5 minutes on weaknesses
  • 5 minutes focused on action planning

Now, that’s just for one individual – and I completely agree with this breakdown. But what if we only had an hour to coach a team? How exactly would those 60 minutes be used? Read on for my personal recommendations.

30 minutes on vision or purpose

After working with teams for 40 years, you would be shocked to learn how few of them have a vision or purpose. In her book, Senior Leadership Teams: What it Takes to Make Them Great, Dr. Ruth Wageman (another fantastic podcast guest on the Team Coaching Zone) talks about the importance of getting the team purpose right, without which a successful team experience is likely to decrease dramatically.


Define purpose using these three C’s: Consequential, Challenging and Clear.


  1. Give each person in the team a piece of paper, and have them write a vision or purpose for that team.
  2. After three minutes, have them take their paper and give it to another person who continues to write the story that the first person started.
  3. After each person has seen each story, have the person at the end read it to the rest of the group.
  4. Let the team vote on the most compelling vision or purpose.
  5. Voila. In 30 minutes, your team now has the clarity to get started.

20 minutes on strengths


An assessment that is a personal favorite of mine is the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment, which is how I would use the next 20 minutes of the session. After receiving the results, I would place them on the StrengthsFinder team grid and have each team member discuss their strengths and evaluate the larger strengths of the team.


Research has shown that teams who work from a strength-based environment produce 10% better results. I couldn’t agree more – working on strengths has, by far, been the most valuable work I do with teams.

5 minutes on action items


Rather than focus on weaknesses, I would use this time to come up with one compelling action item that they would like to work on, before meeting again.

5 minutes on next steps


Ask the team to take out their calendars and schedule the next meeting! If it isn’t done on the spot, it may very well not happen at all.

So, that’s how I would spend one hour coaching a team – how would you spend the hour with your team?

Interested in learning more from team coaching experts like Dr. Richard Boyatzis and Dr. Ruth Wageman? Subscribe to the Team Coaching Zone newsletter to receive a wealth of podcasts, blogs, webinars and resources to keep you in touch with the latest in team coaching. Learn more about the Team Coaching Zone here!

George Johnson has been coaching executives and their teams on vision and strategic planning for over 15 years. He is a partner of the Team Coaching Zone.

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