EPISODE #025: CO-TEAM COACHING: LEVERAGING PARTNERSHIP TO MAXIMIZE IMPACTPODCAST SHOW NOTES - NANCY ALEXANDER & ETHAN HANABURY
Nancy Alexander, Principal at Nancy Alexander Consulting, Executive Coach, Facilitator & Consultant
Ethan Hanabury, Team Leadership Expert, Executive Coach & Previous Higher Education Administrator
#025: Co-Team Coaching: Leveraging Partnership to Maximize Impact
Join Dr. Krister Lowe and two leading organizational coaches–Nancy Alexander and Ethan Hanabury–for this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.
Nancy Alexander is a Principal at Nancy Alexander Consulting and is an executive coach, facilitator and consultant. Nancy has a distinguished background with experience in marketing, strategic planning and new product and service development with Procter and Gamble and American Express where she specialized in expansion, turnarounds and repositioning. After serving as a Vice President at Bank of America, she became a social innovator and eco-entrepreneur and founded one of the first green companies in Connecticut, inventing a business in a declining, generic industry and achieving twice the industry average customer retention rate through eco-friendly products and services, brand differentiation and loyalty, and creative communication. Her work earned national press attention and was featured in Joline Godfrey’s book, Our Wildest Dreams: Women Making Money, Having Fun, Doing Good. Nancy holds a BA degree in Sociology, an MBA from Yale and a MA in Women’s Studies from Southern Connecticut State University.
Ethan Hanabury is a team leadership expert and executive coach, and was a higher education leader and senior administrator. He is an award-winning executive coach, top management team expert, and executive education pioneer. Ethan brings 28 years of experience and perspective as a senior leader and educator to his coaching practice. As Senior Associate Dean at Columbia Business School, he led the teams that brought #1 rankings to the School’s Executive MBA and Executive Education programs; raised student satisfaction levels to record levels; and fostered a learning community that nourished tens of thousands of young women and men to achieve their professional goals. When he transitioned in 2011, Columbia Business School recognized his legacy by naming one of the graduating student awards in his honor for perpetuity. Previous to his deanship at Columbia, Ethan was a product manager with Unilever and a CPA with Arthur Andersen. Ethan holds an MBA from Columbia University and also is a graduate of Columbia’s Coaching Intensive Program.
In this episode, Nancy and Ethan share their perspectives on co-team coaching together and explore a recent engagement with a team in the higher education arena. Themes covered in the episode include: the importance of shared values among co-team coaches; the value of co-team coaching over and above working solo; innovative data feedback strategies in team coaching; building trust in teams; experimentation and innovation in team coaching; techniques for helping teams develop practical action strategies; impact of modeling and co-leading on teams; and more.
The episode is chock full of practical tips and best practices that both new and experienced team coaches will find valuable.
Contact Nancy & Ethan:
Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coaches: Nancy Alexander & Ethan Hanabury
- Nancy Alexander
- Nancy Alexander is an Organization Development Consultant, Facilitator and Executive Coach
- Principal at Nancy Alexander Consulting
- Nancy has a distinguished background with experience in marketing, strategic planning and new product and service development with Procter and Gamble and American Express where she specialized in expansion, turnarounds and repositioning.
- After serving as a Vice President at Bank of America, she became a social innovator and eco-entrepreneur and founded one of the first green companies in Connecticut, inventing a business in a declining, generic industry and achieving twice the industry average customer retention rate through eco-friendly products and services, brand differentiation and loyalty, and creative communication. Her work earned national press attention and was featured in Joline Godfrey’s book, Our Wildest Dreams: Women Making Money, Having Fun, Doing Good.
- Nancy holds a BA degree in Sociology, an MBA from Yale and a MA in Women’s Studies from Southern Connecticut State University.
- Interests: Rowing, Mountain Climbing, Marathon, Mother of 4 daughters, Soprano Soloist – all have reaching for greater heights as a common theme; blue sky thinking
- Ethan Hanabury
- Ethan Hanabury is a team leadership expert and executive coach, and was a higher education leader and senior administrator.
- He is an award-winning executive coach, top management team expert, and executive education pioneer.
- Ethan brings 28 years of experience and perspective as a senior leader and educator to his coaching practice. As Senior Associate Dean at Columbia Business School, he led the teams that brought #1 rankings to the School’s Executive MBA and Executive Education programs; raised student satisfaction levels to record levels; and fostered a learning community that nourished tens of thousands of young women and men to achieve their professional goals. When he transitioned in 2011, Columbia Business School recognized his legacy by naming one of the graduating student awards in his honor for perpetuity.
- Previous to his deanship at Columbia, Ethan was a product manager with Unilever and a CPA with Arthur Andersen.
- Ethan holds an MBA from Columbia University and also is a graduate of Columbia’s Coaching Intensive Program.
- What Get’s You Excited About Team Coaching?
- Ethan – working with teams is at the crux of many organizational problems; being able to work with a team where you can leverage an outside perspective can be very satisfying
- Nancy – stems from deeply held belief that within teams and groups is a wisdom that is already there; often times about helping a team overcome some problems that are holding them back from acting on that potential; its much more difficult to effect change if you are only working with one part of the system; when you work with a team you often can often impact the system
- Nancy – “…within the team there is a wisdom, it is already there….and it is often times a matter of helping the group overcome some old patterns or perceptions or power dynamics and to tease out what they already have and to help them to give it shape and inspire them to act on it…”
- Nancy – “If you go into a system feeling that it’s broken or that there something is deeply wrong, it’s much harder to move forward…if you come to it with a great appreciation for the people and the work they have done already together and who they are collectively, it just really smooth’s the way…it creates a really positive space for them.”
- Approach to Team Coaching and Co-Team Coaching
- Nancy and Ethan hadn’t worked together until recently on a co-team coaching engagement
- Have similar principles and shared values – at the core of working successfully together (e.g. the client comes first); helps to guide their way of operating
- They are experienced coaches – value listening and questioning; not imposing on the group but rather evoking from the group; not just a skill but also a grounded value
- Have similar interests/background working in higher education
- Big overarching framework is about co-creating a set of operating principles and shared values with a team
- Similar philosophy – not wed to one particular approach or theory; client-centered approach and as they learned client drew on tools they had and also created new tools to work with them
Part 2 – Story of a Recent Co-Team Coaching Engagement
- Leadership team, 8 total people, in higher education that had been working together for 6 years but needed a reboot
- Some of the team had been together but some new members had come on and they felt like they weren’t achieving their full potential; not coordinating well
- A team in a specific functional area
- Hadn’t really had the opportunity to form as a solid team; didn’t have a shared action plan…had been operating individually…hadn’t rolled up the actions in their respective units across with the other units; some cross-functional competition
- Arc of the Engagement: 1) Trust & Teambuilding; 2) Shared Vision, Values and Goals; 3) Developing Joint Action Plan – 3 retreats, 2 were half day and 1 was a full day
- Assessment & Data Feedback: Interviewed and surveyed the team and its leader: Creative data feedback approach in a fishbowl format right at the beginning of the workshop; helped model having an authentic and honest conversation in a safe way that created trust; Ethan and Nancy discussed the assessment findings, the main takeaways of what they learned and how it made them feel and what struck them about the team; they were hopeful that the team might also feel comfortable having a conversation with Ethan and Nancy and each other about the data and go deeper into the findings. Really worked with the group. It accelerated building trust with each in the group. It moved the conversation in that direction much more quickly. The group got open with each other pretty quickly.
- Trust Exercise: at the end of first retreat; had each participant fill out a two-column form; everyone spent 10 minutes fill out the form; all the names of the team members were listed on the form; one column – what I can do with this person that would help them build trust in me; second column – the thing I would like to ask the other person to do to build more trust with me; broke them into pairs and everyone had a chance to interact with each other and shared offers and requests; was transformative. Also was an exercise that Nancy & Ethan created and had never run before. Participants said that the exercise really go them talking together; some hugging at the end of the day which was striking and unexpected especially among some pairs where there might have been some distance.
- Preparation was Key: Coaches spent a good deal of time with the leader over the phone prior to the first retreat; helped the leader to begin taking in the data and to already start adapting some behaviors before the retreat started as a way of signaling a commitment to change
- About a month in between first and second retreats
- In 2nd retreat, focus was on breaking down silos and creating shared goals. Before the second retreat they filled out another survey on what their shared values, goals and vision should be on an individual level. They shared the collective results which showed a lot confluence in their visions and that furthered built trust
- Group was not used to co-creating much so it took some time; as much as Nancy and Ethan had planned, their timing didn’t work out as expected but they adapted and discovered by the end, along with the leader, that they had a lot more work to do. The leader suggested a third retreat.
- Group tended to be thinkers and not implementers – needed more time to get into implementation planning.
- Third retreat was full day focusing on action planning. It was hard for them, not naturally comfortable for them.
- Designed a process to action plan around 6 objectives. They developed action steps for each objective for one year. They then flowed all of the action steps across a timeline on a poster board using post-its. Was visually very engaging and created a sense of accomplishment.
- They did the first objective together and then broke into two sub-teams to crank out the other objectives.
- Resulted in them getting out of their silos.
- They were looking holistically and thinking differently about who would be the project leader for given action items.
- They spoke more about how to work horizontally vs. vertically; how could the really be an cross-functional leadership team.
- Homework before third retreat: some editing and redrafting from the first two retreats in order to get the 3rd one off the ground quickly; divided the group into pairs to work on some tasks in advance; leader was asked to refine 6 objectives that were identified in retreat #2
- Action Planning Process:
- Began with one objective that they did collectively
- Used post-it notes: generated, brainstormed ideas about how to accomplish the objectives and then pasted them across the timeline; was very visual; helped them to sense where they were putting too much pressure and to identify order and places to get quick wins and momentum; timeline was broken down by months
- After first one, broke into teams to flesh out the other objectives
- Some training on project management to turn the post-its into a tool.
- Each leader then given a different color post-it to place their name on various action items that they would take some responsibility for; by the end of the exercise all items had owners
- Continuing with coaching of some individual team members following the retreats
- Had some sessions on project management, delegation and meeting management to support them moving beyond the retreats to support the implementation and help them act as team members
- Closing exercise: Ethan asked group to write down as individuals what mindset change they needed themselves or wanted to adopt in order to successfully implement their collective plan; they then went around and had them share what they wrote; comments reflected a lot of personal growth during the time of the 3 retreats
- Other insights about Co-Team Coaching:
- Trust emerged as an important issue for the team during the assessment; modeling trust between the coaches was important for the group to see
- Coaches heard similar and also different things; brining those perspectives together created more than the sum of the parts.
Part 3 – Parting Advice/Recommended Resources/Contacting Nancy & Ethan
- Closing thoughts – Ethan: “In this profession, a lot of times people shy away from bringing somebody else into a project…perhaps because of financial concerns because you are not going to charge the client twice for having two people on the project…so I really would urge people to think about co-leading some of their work…because the benefits can be enormous to the client…but just as important is that you yourself as a professional have the opportunity to grow…” “I learned so much from working with Nancy and developing some new ways and approaches…and also got a lot of joy from it…because the field that we are in…in some ways, while we are working with people, it can be a rather lonely profession…because you are working with a group and you are servicing them and you are helping them but you don’t always have the sense of community of people who are doing what you are doing. ”
- Closing Thoughts – Nancy – “Our partnership did develop a persona of its own…everything that we have been saying about ‘the team’ applying to our client applies to us as well…we became a team…”
- Contact Ethan and Nancy: