professor-peter-hawkins-397_3-Hawkins, Peter 03

Dr. Peter Hawkins, Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School, Emeritus Chairman of Bath Consultancy Group, Chairman of Renewal Associates, and a Leading Consultant, Coach, Writer and Researcher

#019: Systemic Team Coaching: Coaching the 5 Disciplines of Successful Team Practice

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and leading organizational coach and early pioneer in the field of team coaching, Professor Peter Hawkins, for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast. Dr. Hawkins is a Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School, is the Emeritus Chairman of Bath Consultancy Group, the Chairman of Renewal Associates, and a leading consultant, coach, writer and researcher. He is a thought leader in executive coaching, team coaching and board development and is the author of a number of books and papers including, among other works, Leadership Team Coaching (2014) and Leadership Team Coaching in Practice (2014). In this episode Professor Hawkins shares his journey from working in drama therapy and psychotherapy in mental health organizations, to shifting into organizational development and getting a Ph.D. in organization learning and founding the Bath Consulting Group, to becoming a thought leader and practitioner in the area of systemic team coaching. Themes covered in the episode include: the continuum of team coaching; the 5 disciplines of successful team practice (commissioning, clarifying, co-creating, connecting, core learning) and team coaching; the CID-CLEAR team coaching process; the team leader as coach; becoming a team coach; supervision and training of team coaches; and trends in the field of team coaching. Throughout the interview, Professor Hawkins shares stories of success and challenge from his own practice coaching teams in diverse organizations. This episode is overflowing with inspiration, practical insights as well as tips and tools that will help every new and experienced team coach take their practice to the next level.


Learn more about Dr. Hawkins at: 






Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Dr. Peter Hawkins

  • Professor Emeritus – Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School, Emeritus Chairman of Bath Consultancy Group and Chairman of Renewal Associates
  • Based in the UK, outside of Bath.
  • Legend in the field of team coaching
  • Leading consultant, coach, writer and researcher in organizational strategy, leadership culture change, and team and board development
  • Thought leader in executive coaching, team coaching and board development
  • President of the Association of Professional Executive Coaching and Supervision
  • Fellow of Royal Society of Arts and Windsor Leadership Trust
  • Has been a keynote speaker at many international conferences on the learning organization, leadership and executive coaching
  • Teaches and leads master classes at numerous business schools
  • Prolific writer and has published many books, especially in the area of team coaching. Most recently: Leadership Team Coaching in Practice (Oct. 2014); Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy with Nick Smith (2013), Creating a Coaching Culture (2012), Leadership Team Coaching (2011, 2014), Wise Fools Guide to Leadership (2005).
  • Joint founder in 1986 of the Bath Consultancy Group and its chairman until company was sold in 2010. Now serves as its Emeritus Chairman and also chairs two other company boards and is a trustee director of several charities.
  • Distinguished background – much work with companies with coaching/team coaching.
  • Three most important roles not listed in bio: grandfather (five grandchildren who will face far greater challenges as leaders in the future), gardener, student woodlander.
  • Believes team coaching is the way of the future. Need for new forms of leadership, collective leadership is driving a real revolution. Coaching is no longer just about personal development.
  • Families are also teams, and these ideas relate to families, too.
  • Early years – worked in psychodrama, worked with individuals re-entering from mental health hospitals. Started a training school for psychotherapy, got his training and PhD in organizational learning. Started a consulting group. Something nice about team coaching is that it draws on organizational development, but also draws on coaching and understanding of adult development in psychology.

How Dr. Hawkins got into Team Coaching

  • Early 70s, working in a therapeutic community – this approach came out of WWII. People were treated for shell shock (battle fatigue, PTSD). Some units were producing high levels of people with break down and others weren’t.
  • It didn’t have to do with levels of stress of the units, as suspected. Units that produced high levels of emotional break down were also producing high levels of discipline issues, addiction issues, and other forms of distress and disturbance. These units were dysfunctional.
  • If you take any one of us and put us in a dysfunctional unit, it will bring out our latent dysfunctionality. Some will go psychotic, some depressed, some aggressive.
  • Therapeutic communities try to reverse that process. Try to create a healthy community that’s working on its collective health. That interest has been with him through OD and running own organizations and in doing team coaching.
  • We are now in a world where the level and speed of change that’s needed can’t happen only through individual change.
  • Has always had a passion for how we evolve collective consciousness.
  • Gregory Bateson has also influenced Dr. Hawkins greatly. A great polymath from the 20th Century who died in 1981.
  • 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 fluorishing. Unit of survival is any one of those in dynamic co-creation with its ecological niche. 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.
  • Systemic team coaching is essential – can’t help a team evolve without looking at it as a system, its systemic context and stakeholders.
  • Did a historical survey in his first book, Leadership Team Coaching, on the history of team development and approaches to teams. Many are highly focused on what happens inside the team and with the team process. Much of it is around team development and facilitation and team coaching. This is too narrow a focus for full change.
  • Continuum of Team Coaching (in that first book): Looked at difference between team facilitation, team building, team development, team coaching and further on the continuum: leadership team coaching, transformational team coaching, and systemic team coaching.
  • Very important that we’re helping both team coaches and those buying services of team coaches to have a clear menu. To be clear about what help they need.
  • Five disciplines of team coaching (holistic, systemic level intervention).
    • 2 x 2 model. Task and performance on top, and below is process. West – what happens internally, East – what happens externally. In the middle is the fifth discipline: core learning (how does a team become a reflective learning team, constantly growing its capacity to be more than the sum of its parts). Quadrants of the model:
      • Upper right (the why): Commission discipline – does the team have a clear commission? Essential. Commission doesn’t just come from the executive team. Commission comes from all one’s stakeholders. Do you have a legitimacy to operate from your community, investors, etc.?
      • Upper left – (the what) Clarifying discipline – team goals, what to focus on.
      • Bottom left (the how) – Co-creating discipline. Team dynamic, team culture. How we run our meetings.
      • Bottom right – Connecting discipline – many teams think if their meetigns are good, then team is good. But it’s not the game (what they’re impacting). The game is investors, clients, etc.

Part 2 – Hits & Misses Section

  • Case Example 1:
    • Working with large government department in the UK. It needed to reduce its costs, head count. Managing welfare payments and pensions, disability. Had to do more with higher quality expectations, and with far less results.
    • Came into do team coaching. Their meetings were great, but when each of the members of those meetings went to head up their individual units, and stopped being member of the top team, resulted in a lot of conflict at third level because of mismatched messages between executive and individual unit levels.
    • Advised team to individually write their scores for the quadrants. Highest score was for executive team performance in which they were all together. Lowest score was for teams transforming the business in which they were not together.
    • Asked them: How many people do you need leading transformational effort? How do you enroll them? What do you want people coming to the event to say, think and do differently? Co-designed event for enrollment. At lunch time, half time team talk with the exec team. Told them: “Here’s what you wanted people saying, but this is what people have actually been saying. Big difference!” Chief Exec replied, “Made me realize that we only have one chance to get this right, we’re halfway through and we’re losing 3-1.” How to turn it around? Suddenly the coaching felt real.
  • Supervises many team coaches and runs team coaching master classes. Has been team coaching for 35 years and for much of that time was asking the wrong questions. Would start, like many, by asking individuals what they wanted from the coaching, and everyone naturally complained about their colleagues. Wrong place to start.
  • If you start from individual views, you get really ensnared in historical dynamics. Start future back and outside in.
    • Outside in – what is it that your customers, investors, employees, etc. need you to step up to? In two years, what will you regret not having addressed now?
  • 18 element questionnaire – where they score themselves today, and where do they think they need to be in the future.
  • Feeds back the average of the group (not the individual responses), and the highest and the lowest range.
  • Fifth discipline: can the individuals and team say: this is how the team has enabled me/us to do more? This is often the lowest scoring area.
  • On YouTube can find a five minute video about the Five Disciplines.
  • The questionnaire allows everyone to hear the collective team voice. Can also do a 360 with the stakeholders to give the team collective feedback.
  • CID-CLEAR Team Coaching Processs
    • Contracting 1
    • Inquiry
    • Discovery, Diagnosis, Design
    • Contracting 2
    • Listening
    • Exploring
    • Action
    • Review
  • Running diploma training with Academy of Executive Coaching (starting 4th cohort). Many people who come on it stay on for over a year. Many people come from consultancy or coaching backgrounds. They know how to engage teams with event-associated interventions (i.e., retreats). But they know less about how to work with teams for long term, i.e., over a year. Sidclear model addresses this.
  • Remember your first contract is for the leaders, the second contract is for the whole team.
  • All are co-creating team coaching journey
  • Case Example 2:
    • Working with BBC when Greg Dyke was Director General and trying to create a culture change in the organization. How to get team to be on the same page with one company wide transformation? Several change initiatives were happening at the same time.
    • Suggested getting head of radio and t.v. (who’d been there a long time) to jointly present at next executive meeting. Got them to present the last change processes in BBC, what worked or didn’t, so that executive team learned from them.
    • But Dr. Hawkins failed to engage at the intersection between Director General and all trustees.
    • Now Dr. Hawkins won’t work with the chief executive unless he also has a relationship with the board that supports it. Need to be allied to all sections of the organization.
  • Case Example 3 (written about in Leadership Team Coaching in Practice):
    • Called by a hospital’s chief executive. They were going to restructure the hospital to be less siloed. Wanted to consolidate the departments. Wanted coaching for executive team, board coaching, and three new divisions.
    • Noted a danger: What’s happening between non-executives and executive directors, and how is that playing out between executives and divisions?
    • Coach the spaces between them. Most directors were on their first director jobs. Most non-executives were 20 years older. Non-executives would critique what executives came up with.
    • Executives would then try to fix all the issues, rather than moving up and focusing on future.
    • Brought all three divisional leadership teams and executives in the room. Coached them in parallel. Each came up with a team charter, presented it to each other, got feedback, reworked it. Stated what they needed from each other.

Part 3 – Parting Advice/Resources/Recommendations

Evolution of field of team coaching

  • There are a lot of data suggesting that team coaching will really grow in the next 10 years. We will see a big growth with Board coaching and team coaching.
  • There’s no shortage of good individual coaches, facilitators, and trainers
  • But we need people who can connect individual level, team level, organizational level, and wider system level. In a complex ambiguous world, we need more of those people.
  • We have to realize whether we are psychotherapists, trainers, etc. we are part of a bigger endeavor – how do we evolve human consciousness to fit into the 21st century?
  • Training – the experience of trying to train people all over the world: many people come with mindset of acquiring a new toolkit (want models and techniques). Part of that is important but the real challenge is the word “systemic.” In latest book, talks about how we help people develop systemic being. Leadership Team Coaching in Practice covers the “Systemic Attitudes.” Attitudes of being.
    • “Teams are living systems, not manufactured products…We need not a mechanistic science of teams, but an ecology…”
  • Become “teamlanders” (like woodlanders, concerned with the ecology)
  • Even more important than for individual coaches, systemic team coaches need to have supervision.
  • Much individual coaching of senior executives is actually supervising them in their own team coaches.


  • Hawkins, P. (2014). Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership (Second Edition edition). Kogan Page.
  • Hawkins, P. (Ed.). (2014). Leadership Team Coaching in Practice: Developing High-performing Teams. London ; Philadelphia: Kogan Page.
  • Hawkins, P., & Smith, N. (2013). Coaching, Mentoring and Organizational Consultancy 2E (2 edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Hawkins, P. (2012). Creating a Coaching Culture (1st edition). Maidenhead: Open University Press.
  • Hawkins, P. (2005). The Wise Fool’s Guide to Leadership: Short Spiritual Stories for Organizational and Personal Transformation. Business Books.
  • YouTube video about Five Disciplines: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tl-soMKuyYg

Recommended Programs

  • International diploma program for master practitioners: aoec.com – Academy of Executive Coaching
  • Hawkins@renewalassociates.co.uk
  • Webinar for annual Webecs conference on June 26 – 2 p.m. UK time. May 12th – pre-conference webinar at 2 p.m. UK time.
  • Bath Consultancy Group have upcoming webinar in May/June (free) –  bathconsultancygroup.com

Parting Advice

  • I am constantly learning and have much more to learn.
  • We’re one human family, we’ll only survive by an ethic of collaboration.

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