3 Key ‘A-Ha!’ StrengthsFinder Moments

3 Key ‘A-Ha!’ StrengthsFinder Moments

The one tool that has never failed to disappoint in my work with teams is the Gallup StrengthsFinder assessment. After using it with over 75 teams, it’s my go-to tool when trying to get the lay of the land with a new team.

Having been used with over 16 million people, it’s purpose is – you guessed it – to tell you what your natural talents are, and gives you instructions on how to best maximize them. There are 34 strengths broken into four distinct areas: executing, influencing, relationship building, and strategic thinking. The best part? When your team does this assessment, you can put the results in a grid that shows which areas individuals are in. By going over each team member’s strengths individually and as part of the group, as a coach that gives you wonderful information to work with.

Today, I’d like to focus on what you see when you look at the team StrengthsFinder grid, and how you can use that information as a leader. Here are three moments I’d like to share from my own experiences that stand out to help put the application of this tool in perspective:

1. Diversifying your team

In one venture-funded startup, the CEO had trouble getting traction on any of his initiatives. By looking at his team strengths, he saw that seven of the nine executives had the strength of strategic thinking – they would agree to do something, but by the time they got back to their desk, they’d have an even better idea. Essentially, the conundrum was this: he had hired people just like himself! That’s when he realized that he needed a greater variety of strengths on his team.

2. Exercising patience

In a manufacturing company, the new EO wanted help coming up with new ways of improving the processes in the company. Her people told her they were overwhelmed, and had no time or capacity to do something new. The previous CEO wanted control and just wanted people to do their job. Nine of the 14 people on the strategic planning committee had the strength of responsibility, so it was not natural for them to look for innovative ways to do their job better.  The CEO realized it would take time and patience for change.

3. Harmonizing strengths

At a young company there was a six person management team. The two owners had all of the influencing strengths including command and competition, yet they had no relationships strengths.  The other four team members each had relationship strengths. With this coming to light, it helped the other team members understand the owners, and in turn, helped the owners understand that they could rely on the other team members to better understand what was going on in the organization.

What stories do you have about using StrengthsFinder with teams?

If you would like to learn more about the Gallup StrengthsFinder movement and their plans for the future, please listen to the Team Coaching Zone podcast featuring StrengthsFinders evangelist Paul Allen.  Paul is a serial entrepreneur and was the founder of Ancestry.com.

Interested in learning more from team coaching experts like George Johnson and Paul Allen? 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. Go to his website www.entrevis.com to learn more.

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…)

Post #009: 10 Lessons on Team Coaching in Organizations: Review of Podcast Episodes #’s 21 to 30

Post #009: 10 Lessons on Team Coaching in Organizations: Review of Podcast Episodes #’s 21 to 30

by Krister Lowe and Jason Ighani

(Note: A version of this post can also be view on LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/10-lessons-team-coaching-review-podcast-episodes-21-30-lowe-ph-d-)

In this post we highlight ten standout themes or lessons learned that emerged while reflecting on Episodes 21 to 30 of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast—a weekly interview show that features leading organizational coaches who share their insights and stories about coaching teams in companies and organizations. (To listen to a free podcast recording of our informal conversation reviewing these ten themes as well as all the episodes discussed in this post, go to The Team Coaching Zone Podcast at: iTunesStitcher Radio, or at http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/podcast-2/episodes-21-to-30/)

Lesson #1 –Neuroscience & Team Coaching

One cross-cutting theme that stands out from podcast episodes 21 to 30 is the influence of neuroscience on team coaches and team coaching. Episode #021 with Dr. Kobus Neethling looked at the role of cognitive-emotional thinking preferences and how individual team members as well as the team as a whole can develop more flexible and creative ways of thinking and working. He also spoke about teams getting into a state of “flow” and how when they are that state begin to leverage collective wisdom and intelligence. The concept of flow, as popularized by Mihaly Csikszentmihhalyi in his book The Psychology of Optimal Experience, was described by him as the state of “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. Every action, movement, and thought follows inevitably from the previous one, like playing jazz. Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” One way of thinking about team coaching is bringing about the conditions that help teams get into a state of flow and optimal performance. Gilbert Brenson Lazan’s episode (#023) on brain-friendly approaches to sustainable change highlighted some of the elements that he draws on to bring about those conditions including positive psychology, appreciative inquiry and solution-focused coaching. A number of guests including Krish Iyer (#022) and Alex Durand (#030) also spoke about appreciative inquiry and the role of solution-focused coaching in their practices. And Geetu Bharwaney’s episode (#029) on Team Emotional Intelligence (see Lesson #2 below) also explored the central role of emotion in high performance teams. Finally Kati Livingston’s episode (#026) also looked at the role of using metaphor as another tool to unlock different parts of the brain in coaching leaders and teams. In summary, neuroscience offers team coaches a rich source of insights and entry points into creating the conditions that lead to creative thinking and high performance in teams and we suspect that future episodes will continue exploring this trend.

Lesson #2 – Team Emotional Intelligence

Geetu Bharwaney in Episode #029 spoke about the essential role of team emotions in high performance. This was the first episode in the podcast series that focused squarely on emotions in teams. The research by Vanessa Druskat and Steven Wolff that she referenced and that was featured in a March 2001 Harvard Business Review article Building the Emotional Intelligence of Groups, demonstrates that what separates high performing teams from good performing teams is team emotional intelligence. Team EQ revolves around a number of dimensions at the individual/interpersonal level, team level and organizational level and as such provide team coaches with various entry points for customized coaching interventions. She also spoke about The Team Emotional Intelligence Survey—a diagnostic tool that team coaches can deploy to get at the heart of working with teams around emotion. And she spoke about her new book on Emotional Resilience and how it builds on and extends the rich body of knowledge and practice on emotional intelligence. Phil Sandhal (episode #024) also spoke about two key dimensions that often surface when he asks people to reflect on past great team experiences: positivity and productivity. In other words how people feel (i.e. positivity) about their team and the relationships among their teammates has a really strong impact on engagement and performance and as a result is a central component in his team coaching approach. And Alex Durand in episode #030 briefly discussed some recent work by Scott Kaufman featured in the August 2015 Harvard Business Review on the emotions that enable us to be more creative. Nancy Alexander and Ethan Hanabury in Episode #025 shared a great story and technique for building trust between members in a team that had been experiencing low trust. Many models of team effectiveness such as Lencioni’s five dysfunctions of a team revolve around affective dimensions that can make or break teams including trust, conflict, and commitment among others. And while it has been more than 20 years since Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of emotional intelligence in his 1995 book and despite the progress in helping individuals and teams make emotion less of a taboo subject, it seems that we still have a long way to go in harnessing the power of emotions to drive performance.  Team EQ is a rich area for team coaches that is calling for deeper exploration and for a more central role. We look forward to hearing additional team coaches on future episodes of the podcast speak about their lessons learned leveraging the power of team emotion to increase performance.

Lesson #3 – Creativity, Experimentation & Learning in Team Coaching

One of the themes that also jumps out while reflecting on these episodes is around the role of creativity, experimentation and learning in team coaching. A number of the guests including Gilbert Brenson-Lazan (#023) and Alex Durand (#030) focused on the importance of solution-focused coaching.  Solution-focused coaching, rooted in positive psychology, calls us to learn our way to solutions through experimentation and unlocking our creativity rather than through problem-solving or trying to “fix” what’s not working. As Krish Iyer (#022) noted, when he referenced Amy Edmondson’s work on Teaming, the operating environments most teams are now experiencing are increasingly complex and don’t have clear cut answers or solutions but that instead require us to learn through doing, through taking risks and failing quickly in order to discover a way forward. This really gets into the role of learning agility both for team leaders as well as teams as a whole. We suspect that before long we will have a team coach on the podcast who has created a niche approach to team coaching revolving around learning agility. One of the dimensions Geetu Bharwaney spoke about in her episode (#029) on Team Emotional Intelligence is that higher performing teams have developed the competency of “self-evaluation” which is essential for accelerating learning and performance. Coaching team leaders as well as whole teams is fundamentally at its core a process of helping people to summon their creative resources, to experiment and to learn their way into new realities. A Whitehead quote comes to mind that captures the spirit of this theme: “Learning is a creative advance into novelty.” And finally, Alex Durand’s (#030) call to coaches to challenge their assumptions about coaching and to use the scientific method (i.e. creating and testing hypotheses through active experimentation) gets at how we as team coaches need to be modeling learning and pushing ourselves in addition to asking that of our clients.

Lesson #4 – Metrics in Team Coaching

Phil Sandhal (#024) emerged as the first guest of the podcast to bring measurement and metrics into the center of team coaching. As clients often wish to know the potential ROI of investing in team coaching, it behooves team coaches to be able to provide data on its benefits. In the episode Phil mentions that his data showed on average a 20% increase in improvement on both positivity as well as productivity factors in coaching teams over a six-month period. While many of us as team coaches have abundant and rich anecdotes and case studies of the power of team coaching, few of us have hard data that demonstrate those results. Phil’s work at Team Coaching International and the instruments they have developed specifically around team coaching including the Team Diagnostic really set a standard of best practice in the arena around measurement. Measurement has always been a challenge for learning and development professionals for a number of reasons including: that it often requires developing valid and reliable measurement instruments; that some outcomes can be difficult to measure (e.g. sleeper effects – when behavior change takes place 3 to 6 months after an intervention has ended); and that clients often do not want to pay for evaluation.  Furthermore there is the risk of focusing too narrowly or excessively on measurement issues, thereby inadvertantly crowding the coaching space with too much of the so-called “left brain” and leaving too little for the “right brain.” Despite the challenges and risk, we clearly live in an age that values evidenced-based practice and as such aspiring team coaches would do well to develop a concrete measurement strategy to incorporate into their team coaching practices. An exciting area for more advanced team coaches who are engaged in coaching large numbers of teams within or between organizations (for example see DJ Mitsch in Episode #009 on “Scaling Team Coaching to Drive Organizational Change”), is to begin measuring the impact of multiple simultaneous team coaching interventions on important organizational outcomes such as engagement, performance, efficiency and the like. As with many other themes discussed in this summary post, measurement is another rich area for team coaches to specialize in and we salute Phil Sandhal for his leading work in this area. Often times theory and practice move ahead faster than the research. Hopefully in team coaching, more practitioners will take an interest in metrics and measurement so that our discipline can stand on solid ground with supporting evidence.

Lesson #5 – Facilitation in Team Coaching

Another notable cross-cutting theme that emerged in episodes #21 to 30 is the critical role of facilitation skills as part of the toolkit for team coaches. (See review post on episodes #011 to 020 available here for an in-depth discussion drawing on Peter Hawkins’ continuum of team coaching which provides team coaches with a way of understanding the similarities and differences in the various approaches to team development, team building, team facilitation, and team coaching). Gilbert Brenson-Lazan (#023) shared his view that facilitation is the base of team coaching. While many team coaches might argue that coaching is at the base, the reality is that both are “heroes” in successful team coaching engagements and often take the center stage at different points in the process. Many of the guests shared examples of facilitation techniques as part of their team coaching engagements. For example, Nancy Alexander and Ethan Hanabury (#025) discussed powerful facilitation techniques for feeding back needs assessment data to a team, for building trust between team members, and for facilitating action planning sessions during a team coaching kick-off retreat. Krish Iyer (#022) also discussed using a number of facilitation techniques and processes including design thinking exercises, Q-storming, small and large group dialogue methods, appreciative inquiry and more to help engage teams and move the team coaching process forward. Competency in team facilitation skills is essential in particular when working with a team in one to two day kick-offs or launch retreats. However in follow-up coaching sessions with teams, having facilitation exercises and tools can also be helpful for team coaches. Pamela Van Dyke (#027) presented her PERFORM group and team coaching model. The letter “F” in the acronym stands for “Facilitation” and she elaborated on the central importance of this skill when working face-to-face as well as virtually in both group and team coaching settings. While team coaching often incorporates many other skills (e.g. data collection and feedback; use of diagnostic instruments; ongoing coaching sessions with the team leader and the team as a whole in order to set goals, provide support and challenge, and to provide accountability; delivering training modules around specific skills; etc…) in addition to facilitation, clearly facilitation is a core competency for successful team coaching and is a standout theme mentioned repeatedly in these ten episodes.

Lesson #6 – Co-Team Coaching

Nancy Alexander & Ethan Hanabury (Episosde #025) were the first pair of co-team coaches interviewed on the podcast series since the show launched in January 2015. While coaching a team solo is very doable, especially by seasoned team coaches, there are many benefits of working with another team coach. Nancy and Ethan mentioned some of these benefits including: providing a model of collaboration and trust which team leaders and members can then emulate; having one coach focused on what is happening with the team in the immediate moment while the other pays attention to the dynamics of the team as a whole; leveraging the diversity of their perspectives as well as complementary skill sets and more. All of these benefits can be a win-win for both the team coaches as well as for the client who may end up receiving a more impactful intervention. Co-team coaching also provides new team coaches with one of the best ways to learn the trade in a responsible manner when paired with a more seasoned team coach who can hold the boundaries around the overall coaching effort. Finally, when teams have complicated histories or are working in complex environments, the group dynamics that often emerge (e.g. splitting, emergence of factions, authority struggles, latent conflict, issues of diversity and inclusion, etc…) can be difficult to manage and having a co-team coach present can go a long way to helping maintain a “holding environment” for the team. We look forward to learning more about the co-team coaching experiences of additional coaches in future episodes. Much thanks to Nancy and Ethan for getting the ball rolling!

Lesson #7 – Bringing Team Coaching Closer to Actual Team Work

Another interesting cross-cutting theme that emerged across the interviews was the importance of engaging in team coaching during the actual work of the team rather than as a separate activity. Geetu Bharwaney (#029) spoke about a shift in her team coaching practice away from offsite team retreats followed by team coaching sessions to frontloading actual team working sessions with some team coaching which would then impact the team immediately during the team’s task work. Ethan Schutz (#028) also shared experiences of providing a team with some brief concepts from his program The Human Element prior to a team working session during which he would then observe and make coaching interventions.  He mentioned drawing on process consultation techniques to help the team both learn in the moment while also improving performance on an important immediate task. Krish Iyer (#022) shared further examples from his experience in the technology sector of acting like a SCRUM master during team coaching sessions to help teams get unstuck. While team offsites can be fun and productive, they also may pose the risk of lacking clear transfer mechanisms once the team is back at work. Team coaching provides such a learning transfer mechanism and what the team coaches here are suggesting is for those team coaching sessions to take place as close as possible to live work sessions as possible in order to maximize impact.

Lesson #8 – The Polarity of Team Coaching for Results and Learning

Krish Iyer in Episode (#022) referenced Amy Edmundson’s notion of “team” as a noun versus that of “teaming” as a verb. The distinction captures the notion that while many teams may be relatively stable over time, more and more teaming happens in ad hoc ways. Many teams may form and disband at rapid rates. As such it is essential for organizations to develop cultures of teaming so that whether one is working on a stable ongoing team or on a more dynamic ad hoc team or even both at the same time, one has internalized basic teaming competencies. While 80% of companies cite using teams as a fundamental structure for getting work done, only about 10% of teams are reported to be performing at a high level with 40% performing at an acceptable level and a whopping 40% at a low level (Source: Wageman, Nunes, Burruss, & Hackman, 2008). One of the benefits of team coaching is that it not only helps a team accelerate and increase its performance on real business outcomes but it also serves as a vehicle for helping individuals learn how to truly team. As such team coaching provides a “twofer” in that it both generates results while simultaneously building capacity. This theme harkens back to episode #009 with DJ Mitsch who discusses how her team coaching program, The Team Advantage,focuses on helping a team achieve an extraordinary goal in 16 weeks while simultaneously teaching the team leader how to coach their own team and teaching the team how to become a high performing team.  If all goes as planned, by the end of the team coaching engagement the team coach has worked themselves out of their job. In summary, team coaching provides both short-term performance results while also investing in capacity-building for future teaming efforts whether with the same or a new team. This is a polarity that needs to be managed rather than getting lost privileging one outcome over the other. This harkens back to Cliff Kayser in Episode #017 where he introduced listeners to polarity thinking and polarity management in leadership and team coaching.

Lesson #9 – Change Processes and Team Coaching

Krish Iyer (#022) spoke explicitly about team coaching as a change process in and of itself. He spoke about the changing nature of change and discussed the challenges presented by an increasingly VUCA (Volatile, Uncertain, Complex, Ambiguouos) world and marketplace. As mentioned earlier under Lesson #3, in such an environment teams need to learn quickly and fail quickly.  As such learning is synonymous with change itself. Gilbert Brenson-Lazan (#023) also shared powerful examples of facilitating large scale change through developing a leadership culture in a private sector company as well as empowering community members to facilitate change following a natural disaster that resulted in the loss of 26,000 lives. Both Krish as well as Gilbert spoke about the role of developing leader-facilitators or leader-coaches in order to act as effective change agents. Alex Durand (#030) shared how his 3-phase Frable coaching model draws on the work of Richard Boyatzis on Intentional Change Theory. Executive coaching and team coaching is fundamentally a process of learning and change and as such team coaches should have a clearly articulated “theory of change” that underlies their coaching approach. Many of the guests in episodes #021 to 30 spoke about theories or approaches that facilitate sustainable change such as positive psychology, appreciative inquiry and solution-focused coaching among others, however Alex was one of the few that explained how his Frable method explicitly leverages vision, values and action to facilitate change in his clients. For team coaching to develop as a profession, team coaches will need to clearly articulate the underlying change process (i.e. the thruput or mediating mechanisms) of their coaching approaches and not just describe the inputs and outputs that result in change. We salute Alex for articulating his change process in an explicit way. 

Lesson #10 – Challenging Ourselves as Team Coaches

A powerful theme that emerged in a number of interviews and in particular in episode #030 with Alex Durand was the importance of challenging ourselves as team coaches. As coaches our role is to support as well as challenge our clients to confront their own limitations and to take courageous bold action. In like manner we need to do the same as team coaches. Alex suggested that the team coaching field needs more debate and dialogue. He suggested a number of ripe areas to start debating including: the role of subject matter expertise and/or industry experience as a coach; focusing on the “past” in addition to the present and future in coaching; challenging our notions around intergenerational thinking; the use of technology in team coaching; focusing too narrowly on goals vs. allowing for more creative and emergent approaches and more. Alex along with Pamela Van Dyke (#027) spoke about the need for forums and communities of practice in team coaching where these debates can take place. These discussions ideally would also go beyond internal navel gazing (i.e. only discussions among and between team coaches) but also extend to leaders of real teams as well as team members. As team coaching is an emerging discipline in many ways, many team coaches are isolated and could benefit from more communities of practice.

In summary, episodes #021 to 30 of the podcast provided a wealth of penetrating insights as well as practical tips, tools and resources to the listeners. We hope that readers found this high level summary useful and also helpful for pointing to specific episodes where a deeper dive on a specific topic can be explored.   For readers who wish to dig deeper, the Resources page at the Team Coaching Zone website http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/resources/ provides lots of additional information on team coaching including suggested resources (i.e. articles, assessments, books, coach training programs, free downloads, and more).

We look forward to continuing to release new episodes of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast on a weekly basis. Episodes can be listened to for free on iTunesStitcher Radio, or at www.TeamCoachingZone.com/podcasts. Also be sure to check out our free monthly webinar hangouts on team coaching http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/webinars/, our group on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Team-Coaching-Zone-8227188/about and subscribe to our newsletter.

We look forward to returning back after the next ten episodes to provide another similar summary and we welcome your comments and feedback which you can direct to krister@teamcoachingzone.com and/or to jason.ighani@gmail.com. Until then remember to stay in the team coaching zone!

About the Bloggers

Krister Lowe, Ph.D. is an Organizational Psychologist, a Leadership and Team Coach and the Host of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast as well as the Creator of the Team Coaching Zone: Exploring the Art & Science of Team Coaching at www.TeamCoachingZone.com. Krister is also an instructor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. He is based out of the New York City metro area. Learn more about Krister at: http://www.TeamCoachingZone.com/about as well as on LinkedIn here.

Jason Ighani is an Executive and Team Coach as well as an Organizational Health Consultant based out of Seattle and Costa Rica. Jason is presently providing coaching and consulting services in partnership with C Global Consulting, is a Leadership Coach for Cargill’s High Performance Leadership Academy and is the Creator of the Pro Bono Coaching Program. The PBCP is an initiative that contributes to the resilience, engagement and wellbeing of humanitarian staff globally, particularly those serving in hardship duty stations. Learn more about Jason on LinkedIn here.

Post #008: 10 Lessons on Coaching Teams in Organizations: Review of Podcast Episodes 11 to 20

Post #008: 10 Lessons on Coaching Teams in Organizations: Review of Podcast Episodes 11 to 20

by Dr. Krister Lowe and Dr. David Tate

(Note: a version of this post can also be viewed on LinkedIn here.)

In this post we highlight ten standout themes or lessons learned that emerged while reflecting on episodes 11 to 20 of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast—a weekly interview show that features leading organizational coaches who share their ideas and stories about coaching teams in companies and organizations. (To listen to a free podcast recording of our informal conversation reviewing these ten themes go to: iTunes, Stitcher Radio, or www.TeamCoachingZone.com/podcasts.)

Lesson #1 – Well-Developed Team Coaching Models

A common challenge that both new and experienced team coaches face is finding well-developed models and frameworks on team coaching. Many team coaches have developed their own home-grown approaches. This is wonderful and at the same time if the field is going to develop, replicable models and frameworks that are published and that can be shared are needed. Fortunately, episodes 11 to 20 of the podcast uncovered a number of clearly articulated and tested team coaching models and frameworks. Professor Peter Hawkins’ (Episode #19) work on the 5 disciplines of successful team practice (Commissioning, Clarifying, Co-Creating, Connecting and Core Learning) as well as the accompanying CID-CLEAR team coaching process model was one notable framework that stood out. Dr. Jacqueline Peters and Dr. Catherine Carr’s model as outlined in their book High Performance Team Coaching: A Comprehensive System for Leaders and Coaches (Episodes 12 & 13) with its 6 elements (Pre Assessment, Coaching for Team Design, Team Launch, Individual Coaching, Ongoing Team Coaching, Review Learning & Successes) was another notable standout. Jennifer Britton’s (Episode #11) 5 stage team coaching process (Contracting, Pre-Program, Offsite/Kick-off, Ongoing Coaching Conversations, Wrap-Up) as outlined in her book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching provided yet another practical hands-on road map to the team coaching process. And Erin Hutchins introduced the Relationship Engine framework for team coaching that builds on CTI’s Co-Active model. It’s important to mention that back in Episode #009 DJ Mitsch, an early pioneer in team coaching, also discussed her well-developed and articulated team coaching model and approach, The Team Advantagethe Extraordinary Business Game. These models provide team coaches with a strong platform for guiding practice, for the supervision of team coaches, for scaling up team coaching in organizations and also ultimately for empirical testing and research.

Lesson #2 – The Team Coaching Continuum

Professor Peter Hawkins’ (Episode #19) continuum of team coaching provides a helpful way of organizing a number of team coaching activities. As outlined in his outstanding book Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership, the continuum moves developmentally from more internally focused team coaching activities to ones that are more externally focused. Team building –> Team Facilitation –> Team Performance Coaching –> Leadership Team Coaching –> Transformational Leadership Team Coaching –> Systemic Team Coaching. The continuum helps clarify the distinctions between these approaches to team coaching and also provides both team coaches as well as buyers of team coaching services with a menu of alternatives depending on their goals. The continuum also helps to outline the competencies necessary for effective coaching at each stage of development. A question often asked by people new to team coaching is: “How is team coaching different from team training, team training or team building?” The continuum provides a concrete way of answering that question.

Lesson #3 – Systemic Approaches to Team Coaching

If we had to pick one word that captures the spirit of episodes 11 to 20 it would be “systemic.” Two episodes, Episode #19: Systemic Team Coaching: Coaching the 5 Disciplines of Successful Team Practice with Professor Peter Hawkins and Episode #20: The Dreaming Nature of Systems: How Team, Executive and Business Coaches Can Work with What’s Emerging with Marita Fridjhon, focused on the systemic nature of team coaching. A quote by Peter Hawkins captured this nicely: “Bateson said we misunderstood Darwin. We think the unit of survival (of the fittest) is the individual, or the team, or organization, or nation or species. But it’s not any of those. It’s neither the unit of survival nor the unit of flourishing. Unit of survival is any one of those in dynamic co-creation with its ecological niche. We can’t talk about a high performing team or individual, we can only talk about a team that’s co-creating value with and for all its stakeholders in its ecological niche.” Marita Fridjhon’s episode highlighted important concepts such as the 3rd Entity, Relationship Systems Intelligence and “holonic shifts” as well as the “me, we and it” levels in coaching. Marita’s quote captures this even on an individual level: “The first system is self. If I ever thought that I was doing individual coaching, it’s always been a lie because it has always been multiple selves, multiple parts in me that meets up with multiple parts in you.”  Herb Stevenson’s episode on Gestalt approaches to coaching teams also touched on the systemic nature and dynamics of coaching teams. And David Tate’s session on managing multiple systems within family enterprises also brought a systemic perspective.  The systemic perspective brings the team’s context and relationship with that context into center of the team coaching arena.

Lesson #4 – Leveraging Polarities or Energy Systems in Team Coaching

Cliff Kayser’s episode (#017) on Leveraging Polarities to Drive Leadership and Team Coaching also presented a unique meta-level system’s perspective on polarities as powerful energy systems within teams. Polarities or interdependent pairs (e.g. individual and team; process and task; autocratic and participatory, etc…) are always present in all systems. Coaches can help leaders and teams identify the key polarities at play and to view them “not as problems that can be resolved but rather as energy systems that can be leveraged to drive growth and change.” They are dilemmas that don’t go away but rather that contain energy waiting to be harnessed to drive change. Polarity thinking can help teams and team coaches avoid falling into the trap of false dichotomies and help teams respond in more sophisticated and complex ways to their adaptive challenges.  As Barry Johnson, a founder and seminal figure in the polarity field says in his book Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems: “For every complex problem there is a simple solution, and its wrong.” The polarity map characterized by an infinity loop layered on top of four quadrants–that Cliff discusses on the episode–can be a powerful diagnostic tool for team coaches and for helping team’s map out the polarities they are struggling with.  (Note: A Copy of the polarity map can be downloaded under the “Downloads tab” at http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/resources/).

Lesson #5 – Building and Designing High Performing Relationships

A few episodes focused on the critical role that team member relationships play in the team coaching process. Dr. Jacqueline Peters (Episode #012) noted that the science of what drives successful relationships with couples overlaps with the science of what drives successful teams as well as successful customer relationships. Consequently she identified the High Performance Relationship System – A Five Building Block System to help team members develop high performance relationships. The five building blocks include: Safety, Purpose, Structure, Camaraderie and Repair. Understanding the 5 building blocks can help teams understand the complexity of the relationship dynamics at play in the group; can help team members become more objective and to not take issues personally; and can help foster a shift in focus from “I” to “We.” Dr. Peters has a forthcoming book on The High Performance Relationship system. This will be yet another great resource for team coaches. Erin Hutchins’ episode (#014) on The Relationship Engine: Designing the Alliance in Team Coaching also emphasized the critical role of relationships in the team coaching process. The Relationship Engine builds on CTI’s Co-Active Coaching model and focuses on four elements that provide a context of safety and trust in teams: Take Responsibility; Choose; Align; and Commit. Designing a strong alliance with the team up front in coaching really can help build a holding environment, container or vehicle for the team coaching engagement and thereby stave off implosion by the team due to misalignment in the relationships. Jennifer Porter (Episode #016) made a memorable comment about how the relationships aspects and focal areas of coaching often get a lot of attention because its fun and as she said “juicy.” She also spoke about balancing this relationship focus with some strong practical tools. Her episode revealed some great gems such as having behaviorally based operating principles to guide team member interactions, linking up team metrics to the operating principles and also elucidated a powerful technique for sharing diagnostic interview data with a team in a fishbowl type of format. Being a high performing team requires being excellent at both relationships a well as in task areas.

Lesson #6 – Differentiating Group Coaching from Team Coaching

Jennifer Britton’s episode (#011) provided an important distinction between coaching a group (e.g. a cohort of high potential leaders) vs. coaching an intact team. She likened the two as “related siblings” but as two different sub-disciplines within the coaching profession. In group coaching the focus tends to be on each individual’s goals and development while in team coaching the team’s goal and mission tends to be the focus. Other important distinctions between the two types of coaching include: the role of leadership; the role of relationships; the life cycle of the group/team; and what’s at stake. Her book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching provides an excellent in-depth resource on both types of coaching. In team coaching we are really trying to coach the collective intelligence or mind of the group. In other words, when a team has become more than the sum of its parts, when synergy is happening or when a team is “in the zone or in flow,” that is really an indicator that a real team exists.  This provides a stark contrast to group coaching which tends to focus more on the individual’s development in the context of a group and not on creating the conditions for what Marita Fridjhon calls the 3rd Entity to arise. 

Lesson #7 – Team Coaching Training Programs

Episodes #11 – 20 revealed a number of established ICF accredited team coaching training programs. Only one such program (The Team Advantage Program discussed by D.J. Mitsch in Episode #009) emerged during the first ten episodes. Three additional programs were mentioned in episodes 11 to 20 including Jennifer’ Britton’s online as well as face-to-face group and team coaching certification training programs, Peter Hawkins’ Systemic Team Coaching Certificate and Certification training programs, and Marita Fridjhon’s Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) Certification Program. These well-developed and tested team coaching programs provide would-be team coaches with robust opportunities to get trained as a team coach. They also offer supervision options to help support the journey to becoming a team coach. Jennifer Britton’s book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching and Peter Hawkins book Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership provide valuable sections on what it takes to become a team coach including the necessary competencies to do so.  Herb Stevenson (Episode #018) also discussed a team coaching training program that he has in development and that will be released soon.   As more people invest in getting trained as a team coach, this will likely have a direct effect on the credibility of the field and also on the quality and impact of team coaching interventions in organizations.

 Lesson #8 – Coaching Family Enterprise Teams and Systems

David Tate’s episode (#015) focused on coaching one ubiquitous type of team—family enterprise teams and systems. Family businesses are responsible for generating 78% of all new jobs and for generating 65% of all wages paid in the United States. Teams in such enterprises can be faced with unique opportunities as well as challenges that differentiate them from other types of teams (See our blog post “Teams in Family Enterprise Systems: Crouching Tigers & Hidden Dragons” here for a brief discussion of these challenges and opportunities). David’s podcast highlights three subsystems that need to be managed when coaching family business teams: the management system, the ownership system and the family system. We hope future episodes of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast will highlight coaching teams in specific industries and functional areas well as different types of teams such as virtual teams.  David’s episode provides a great start in providing thinking in one niche area.

 Lesson #9 – Sandbox Clients, Co-Team Coaching & Supervision

Jennifer Porter’s episode (#016) From C-Suite Executive to Leadership and Team Coach touched on the importance for team coaches of finding “sandbox” clients where they can gain practice and experience team coaching in lower risk settings . Co-team coaching also was mentioned in her episode as important for team coaches to seriously consider, as it can really can help both new as well as experienced team coaches manage the complex dynamics of working with a team. In addition, the importance of supervision was noted in a number of episodes and it was suggested that this might be even more important than supervision in one-to-one coaching settings given the increase in complexity when moving from one to many.  Finding experienced team coaches who can supervise new team coaches was explored and a number of names were offered in this regard (e.g. Jennifer Porter Episode #016; Dr. Catherine Carr Episode #013, Jennifer Britton Episode #011, Dr. Peter Hawkins Episode #19, Marita Fridjhon Episode #020).

Lesson #10 – The Wild West of Team Coaching

We end this recap of episodes 11 to 20 with an overarching theme that has been recurrent since the start of the podcast back in January of this year: team coaching is still in an emerging and early stage of development. It’s a bit of the “Wild West” which brings with it both excitement as well a lack of formal standards and guidelines. However in these ten episodes we can see some solid order and structures being forged out of the chaos. Jennifer Britton’s work (Episode #011) on best practices in team coaching is one seminal work in this area while the work of Dr. Peter Hawkins (Episode #019), Dr. Jacqueline Peters & Dr. Catherine Carr (Episodes #12 & 13), and Marita Fridjhon (Episode #020) all point to the emergence of formalized courses of instruction and models that are now readily available to team coaches. Along with DJ Mitsch’s Team Advantage (Episode #009) program, new and experienced team coaches can find guidance, books, models, training programs, mentorship, supervision, community and more.  So while team coaching may still feel like the wild west, those days may be numbered.

In summary, it’s an exciting time in the field of team coaching and it’s exciting to learn from many of the early pioneers who have helped set a foundation and course for future scholars and practitioners in this area.  For readers who wish to dig deeper, the Resources page at the Team Coaching Zone website http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/resources/ provides lots of additional information on team coaching including white papers, downloadable PDFs of many of the models discussed in this post, white papers, short videos and more.

We look forward to continuing to release new episodes of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast on a weekly basis. Episodes come out every Thursday and can be listened to for free on iTunesStitcher Radio, or at www.TeamCoachingZone.com/podcasts. Also be sure to check out our free monthly webinar hangouts on team coaching http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/webinars/, our group on LinkedIn https://www.linkedin.com/groups/Team-Coaching-Zone-8227188/about and subscribe to our newsletter.

We hoped you enjoyed reviewing these summary themes and lessons learned. We will be back after the next ten episodes to provide another similar summary. We welcome your comments and feedback which you can direct to krister@teamcoachingzone.com and to david@tate-consulting.com. Until then remember to stay in the team coaching zone!

 About the Bloggers

Dr. David Tate is a Principal at the Tate Consulting Group, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant as well an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University and an Author. Learn more about David at: http://www.tate-consulting.com

Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist, a Leadership and Team Coach and the Host of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast as well as an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. Learn more about Krister at: http://www.TeamCoachingZone.com

Post #007: Teams in Family Enterprise Systems: Crouching Tigers & Hidden Dragons

Post #007: Teams in Family Enterprise Systems: Crouching Tigers & Hidden Dragons

By Dr. David Tate & Dr. Krister Lowe

(Note: This Post is also available on LinkedIn here)

Idea in Brief: Family-owned businesses are the backbone of the U.S. economy, responsible for 65 percent of wages paid, adding 78 percent of all new jobs, and contributing over half of the nation’s GDP. Unfortunately, less than one-third survive the transition from first to second generation of family ownership. Understanding the “Crouching Tigers” and “Hidden Dragons” that are part of family enterprise teams and systems may help leaders and coaches of such teams increase that survival rate and contribute to further strengthening this vital part of the economy. 

Teams in business take on many forms: leadership teams, management teams, cross-functional teams, virtual teams, and so on. Within family enterprise systems there are additional teams in the mix because such enterprises are comprised of three subsystems—the business system, the ownership system, and the family system. In the business system, there are the teams that may appear in any business, as described above. In the ownership, there may be teams of shareholders, and boards of directors, advisory teams, and wealth management teams. And within the family system, there may be teams of family members (e.g., in a family council or family assembly) who are working together to optimize the relationship between the family and the business or shareholder group.

The family and ownership systems add layers of complexity that can be both a source of competitive advantage (Crouching Tigers) and can also create fault lines (Hidden Dragons) that lead to conflict and dysfunction.

Crouching Tigers: Sources of Competitive Advantage

  • Family teams and groups of owners/partners with longstanding relationships have a lot of shared history, which is a source of cohesion and trust. Such trust, a by-product of safety, has been found to be a key ingredient that contributes to high performance in teams*.
  • Family teams can have the advantage of a deep knowledge of one another that makes it easier to “read” and understand one another, to appreciate each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and to use a shared vocabulary and ways of communicating.
  • Ability to have a long-term view: families that have been in business together for decades or generations may have the ability to have a longer term view than other businesses, which may be more focused on quarterly performance, stock price, and faster shareholder return.

Hidden Dragons: Unseen Fault Lines

  • Non-managing owners versus managing owners: Shareholders that do not work in the business may become less in touch with the needs of the business and more motivated by personal gain (e.g. return on investment, dividends) rather than re-investing profits in the business. These divergent needs can be a source of friction within an ownership team.
  • Family versus non-family: Some non-family employees may perceive a “glass ceiling” (e.g. they will never have a spot in the highest management seats) or believe that family members are not held to the same standard as others (e.g., the boss’s son can never be fired). These often unspoken perceptions and feelings can create a divisive spirit that have a negative effect within teams.
  • Family dynamics: Tensions and “baggage” in the family–including sibling rivalry, generational differences, “blood” versus in-laws, and different interests among family branches—may simmer below the surface with the risk of blowing up and fracturing family and owner teams.

Knowing about both the tigers and the dragons can help leaders and team coaches who work with family enterprise teams capitalize on their strengths and opportunities, while raising their awareness of the ways that the fault lines built into these systems can become sources of strife that may undermine a team’s ability to function well.

Readers who wish to go deeper can check out this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast –“Episode 015: Coaching Family Business Teams with Dr. David Tate”—available here on iTunes, here on Stitcher Radio and here at the Team Coaching Zone website. In the episode Dr. Lowe and Dr. Tate explore some stories, tips and lessons learned from David’s experience coaching family enterprise teams. Leaders of such teams as well as coaches working with such teams may find this episode useful. Show Notes for the podcast are also available here. In addition, readers may also appreciate David’s book co-authored with Priscilla Cale: Sink or Swim: How Lessons from the Titanic Can Save Your Family Business.

*Reference: Peters, J. & Carr, C. (2013). High Performance Team Coaching: A Comprehensive System for Leaders and coaches.

About the Bloggers:

Dr. David Tate is a Principal at the Tate Consulting Group, a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Executive Coach and Organizational Consultant as well an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University and an Author. Learn more at: http://www.tate-consulting.com

Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist and Host of the Team Coaching Zone Podcast as well as an Adjunct Professor at New York University’s Center for Global Affairs. Learn more at: http://www.TeamCoachingZone.com

Stay in The Team Coaching Zone!

Subscribe for the latest updates on our industry-leading resources, trainings, and coaching services!

You have Successfully Subscribed!

Pin It on Pinterest