Andrew Sillitoe, Business Psychologist, Speak and Author

#045 – Is Your Team’s House in Order? From Professional Inline Hockey Player to Business Psychologist and Team Coach

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and today’s guest and leading organizational coach Andrew Sillitoe for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  Andrew Sillitoe is a Business Psychologist, Speaker and Author of “Managing the Mist: How to Develop Winning Mind-sets and Create High Performance Teams.” He is the owner of www.AndrewSillitoe.com and of Strategic Team Coaching Ltd, a company that is passionate about enhancing leadership, creating high- performance teams and developing winning mind-sets. Andrew is an experienced executive coach and business consultant. He studied an MSc in ‘Management Consulting and Organisational Change’ at Birkbeck University and draws upon his strong commercial experience to help organisations, teams and individuals realise their potential and deliver better results. A talented athlete, Andrew played 77 games in 11 World Championships for Great Britain Inline Hockey Team and competed professionally representing Vancouver, California and Colorado. In 2011 Andrew coached Great Britain to win a Division One gold medal, achieving promotion into the top eight countries at the IIHF 2012 World Championships for the first time.

In this episode of the podcast, Andrew shares his journey as a child growing up playing inline hockey to becoming a professional inline hockey player and coach and then into establishing his own career as a business psychologist and team coach. Themes explored in the podcast include: lessons learned from being a player on high performing sports teams; coaching sports teams; transitioning from coaching sports teams to business teams; Andrew’s 5 part “Is Your House In Order” high performance teams and team coaching framework; Andrew’s approach to coaching teams and sustaining change; his book “Managing the Mist: How to Develop Winning Mind-sets and Create High Performance Teams;” translating team coaching terminology into a language that real-world teams can access; and more. He also shares some stories of coaching business teams around the world.

This is a yet another inspiring story of an exceptional individual who found his way into team coaching and the first former athlete featured on the podcast as well.  Andrew drops multiple “value bombs” for the listeners in this episode and this is surely an hour that listeners will not want to miss!

Listen Now

Contact Andrew



Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Andrew Sillitoe


  • Coach based in Royal Tunbridge Wells, rural southeast England
  • First guest with a background as a professional athlete
  • Started out as a street hockey player and moved to Canada in 1997, got first professional game in 2004, was part of some championship teams, coached team Great Britain
  • After career in coaching sports teams, he went back to school to get a Master of Science in Organizational Change to bring academic rigor to approach
  • Published first book in 2013 Managing the Mist: How to develop winning mind-sets and create high performing teams
  • Contemporary and innovative views have led to high level global clients
  • Website
  • TED Talk

Journey into Coaching

  • Started coaching quite early on, put foundations in place to work with teams and organizations
  • Transitioned to inline skates instead of roller skates which set the team back, but risk taking paid off
  • The stuff at the bottom of the change curve is the most memorable, feels pretty clunky as you go through it
  • Level of play in North America was completely different
  • Theme of learning: at the heart of coaching is the ability to learn
  • Key takeaways: any player on a team has experienced a coach that has inspired them, those coaches involve players in strategy, ask players to help form the strategy, shared leadership is important; When you have a coach that is willing to adapt, get the best out of individuals, and work toward a common purpose, that’s quite unique

Part 2 – Perspectives on Team Coaching


  • Accepting rollercoaster of emotions instead of pretending it doesn’t exist is something that was fundamental with teams he worked with, and is key in working with teams in business – fail fast, learn quick
  • It’s easy to stay in the comfort zone
  • To create a high performing culture is underpinned by behaviors and working toward a common set of values – can feel “fluffy,” because people want structure, but that is the place where performance accelerates
  • “We hold people accountable against delivery of objectives, but we don’t hold people accountable enough against behaviors. When we hold people accountable against behaviors, that’s when performance accelerates.”
  • Experience of social change with street hockey team; first exposure to Gen X dealing with Gen Y. Engagement was increased, they wanted to add value but had to adjust how communication happened (social media)
  • Five rules: 1) Have a common purpose, how do you want to look/act/feel as a team? 2) Coach asks, doesn’t tell – allowed for greater change and adaptation, 3) Developing members of the team as leaders, presence on and off the rink was key, 4) Embrace failure – if not failing, then not pushing hard enough, 5) Hold each other accountable, and clarifying what this means
  • Carrying this work over to business coaching
  • Purpose: the reason you exist: mission, objectives, values – what is the impact you’re trying to have on society, education, etc

Transition from sports arena to coaching

  • In 2007 worked in sales, and was approached by a consultancy around high performance and was given an opportunity to speak there – synergy between sports performance and business performance
  • Going out on his own was difficult at that point, so ended up joining a recruitment team to deliver management programs, started to understand HR, L&D side of business; then went freelance in 2012
  • Dissertation from going back to school became his book in 2013; pulled together experiences from sports teams, sales, L&D, HR

Current practice

  • Has been independent for four years
  • Approach: Getting your house in order (roof = vision, right side = image, behaviors, left side = process, results)
    • 1) Creating disruptive team leaders –Work with the leader of the team, help them articulate their story and purpose before working with the entire team – using specific change methodology to help people understand their resistance to change.
    • 2) Measuring – five areas of the house. Is the house in order? Then looking at empowerment, autonomy of leaders, improvement, accountability.
    • 3) Report back results to the team as a basis for further engagement
    • 4) Sustainability, keeping the house in order. This seems to be the harder part, lots goes on here. After the workshop a lot of people are excited but there is always a lot going on so you have to look at it in the context of the whole business operation and communication structure
  • Having a good coach helps navigate the change process – honing in on behaviors that need to happen to ensure change is key


  • First client after book was launched: client was on board, but he hadn’t identified the right stakeholders. Language would have resonated with coaching peers, but not with the client in the same way (was more academic but should have been more “real”)
  • Having a partner or co-facilitator is helpful in getting feedback about language, engagement with clients
  • Supervision is important, especially for freelance coaches
  • Working across different industries/sectors: sees principles of team coaching as going across all sectors – challenges that teams encounter go across fields
  • Cross-cultural coaching with multi-cultural teams: less of a barrier,
    • Working with an HR leadership team in Middle East, main objective was to get them talking with each other
    • Met with leader after to go over results – so much was below the surface that the team didn’t know
    • Sharing story with him opened him up, and he shared the story with his team which made them much more able to understand what was driving him

Part 3 – Resources, Parting Words, and Contacting Andrew



  • andrewsillitoe.com
    • keynote speaking, presenting, conference work with multiple teams, executive coaching, leadership development, team coaching
  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter
  • Instagram

Parting Words

  • What’s exciting for Andrew now is how we can embrace technology, and how do we keep it real? How to speak the right language and get teams to think deeply about individuals’ roles on teams so that everyone can thrive – teams are the cornerstone of helping organizations realize their potential

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