John Leary-Joyce

John Leary-Joyce, Founder and Thought leader of Systemic Team Coaching, President and Founder of the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC), and Author of Fertile Void: Gestalt Coaching at Work

Episode #055: John Leary-Joyce: Insights & Reflections on Systemic Team Coaching

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and today’s featured guest and thought leader in the area of team coaching—John Leary-Joyce—for this episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  John is the President and Founder of the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC)—a global organization that provides a route for professionals to gain coaching mastery. He has rapidly established the AoEC as a brand of excellence accredited by the International Coaching Federation, the European Mentoring and Coaching Council and Middlesex University. He is the author of Fertile Void: Gestalt Coaching at Work, is a founder and thought leader of Systemic Team Coaching, and certifies and supervises team coaches around the world.

Themes explored in the podcast include: John’s journey as a Gestalt psychotherapist into executive and team coaching; the establishment of the AoEC; individual signature presence; incorporating the organizational and systemic context into coaching; John’s collaboration with Peter Hawkins; similarities and differences between team development, team facilitation and team coaching; the ongoing process of team coaching over time; the Five Disciplines of Team Coaching – Commissioning, Clarifying, Co-Creating, Connecting, Core Learning; inside out and outside in as well as the task and relationship components in team coaching; collective leadership; individual and collective performance appraisal within teams; the learning team; differentiating elements of Systemic Team Coaching; supervision of team coaches; shadow team coaches; being able to challenge as well as hold as a team coach; helping teams maintain momentum in team coaching; the future of team coaching and more.

In the episode John shares a number of success as well as failure stories from his executive and team coaching practice. He also shares information about AoEC’s team coach training programs; the Team Connect 360 diagnostic tool; his book Fertile Void: Gestalt Coaching at Work; as well as other resources available at www.aoec.com.

Systemic Team Coaching is one of the leading approaches to team coaching that all team coaches should explore. This episode provides a great introduction from one the thought leaders and founders in the area.  This is an episode that you will surely not want to miss!  For show notes go to: www.TeamCoachingZone.com.

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Resources Mentioned

  1. 3-Day Systemic Team Coaching Certificate
  2. Team Connect 360 tool to use after the certificate
  3. 1-year Team Coaching Program: 4 more modules
  4. AOEC website (frequent blog posts)
  5. Fertile Void: Gestalt Coaching at Work

Listen to the Episode:








Part 1 – Getting to know the Coach: John Leary-Joyce


Journey into Team Coaching

  • Started as Gestalt psychotherapist, moved into management arena when took on the role of Manager of Gestalt center; led to more of a business orientation
  • Wondered how to apply Gestalt thinking to management arena
  • Process consultation: listening and understanding vs. telling
  • Developed notion of signature presence: how to bring yourself as a leader to the coaching context, engage with your whole personality and develop your own model (being rather than applying outside models)
  • AEOC in 2000 with a colleague
  • Early on, interest was with team facilitation, enjoyed grappling with problems with others
  • Two specific experiences working one-on-one with leaders that were less successful stuck with him; year later he met up with Peter Hawkins and realized that he had not been in touch with the organizational context surrounding these two clients that had been unsuccessful
  • Since 2010, when he started working with Peter Hawkins, has been developing systemic approach and training

Part 2 – Perspectives on Team Coaching

What does team facilitation and development bring?

  • This is not a new thing
  • Peter Locke, Ruth Wageman, Richard Hackman
  • The new element is weaving the coaching philosophy into team coaching, to get individuals to take responsibility for themselves within the team context
  • Shift from team facilitation/development to working from the inside out rather than outside in, coming with an invitation to teams to discover who they are
  • Time is a crucial factor for systemic coaching – sport coaching is similar in terms of how time plays into it

Systemic Team Coaching Model: Disciplines

  • Who’s inside the team and who’s outside?
    • Usually the focus tends to be inside, but you have to look at the whole system
  • Commissioning: Look at what stakeholders are asking for, what is the mandate for the team?
  • Clarifying and Co-creation within the team to deliver on the task to satisfy expectations of key stakeholders
    • Teams by default tend to silo, which ignores the potential for synergy and additional value
  • Relationships among individuals (suppliers, staff, board, etc)
    • Often the team leaders takes responsibility for connecting with key stakeholders, attempting to “protect” the team from that, but collective responsibility emphasizes the systemic paradigm
  • Example: individuals on the team contributing to assessment of each other rather than the leader doing that in private
  • Learning Team: How to take the learning from these experiences, processes to develop, grow, reflect
    • Learning as integral to performing well

A story

  • Learning moment: first or second team engagement
    • Put a plan together with the CEO
    • During inquiry phase, came up against resistance within senior leadership team members
    • Had to put the whole initial plan on hold to get the team on the same page
    • During economic slump in 2008, the team had to rethink everything, find new markets
  • Supervision is crucial
    • Working in pairs, having a shadow team coach, or an outside supervisor is really helpful
  • How to maintain momentum and leaders’ commitment to an ongoing process?
    • 360 now and in 9 months or a year à incentivizes periodic check-in, desire to achieve targets
    • combining individual and team coaching and checking in on both over time

Part 3 – Resources, Parting Words, and Contacting John

 Resources for Coaches

Advice for Coaches

  • Sit with the pain and the difficulty of the process with a team
  • Have confidence
  • Draw on your experience of being on a team yourself



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