Rachel Ciporen, EdD, Executive Coach and Consultant

#003 – Team Coaching for Development and Performance with Rachel Ciporen

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and this week’s guest, Dr. Rachel Ciporen, on the The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  In the episode, Dr. Ciporen shares stories helping senior leadership teams boost their development and performance through team coaching. Dr. Ciporen is an executive coach, a consultant, an educator as well as a faculty member of the Columbia University Coaching Certification program and the OSD Gestalt Center.  She holds both a Master’s degree in Organizational Psychology as well as a Doctoral degree in Adult Learning & Leadership from Columbia University.  Dr. Ciporen’s work has been published in the Journal of Organization and Leadership, the Academy of Management and Education, and the Journal of Action Research.  She is the author of a chapter on “Best Practices in Multi-rater Feedback” in a new book by editor Dr. Anne Power on Internal Coaching – Stories of Success in Coaching.


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Learn more about Rachel at: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-ciporen/0/410/748


  1. Columbia University Coaching Certification Program: http://www.tc.columbia.edu/coachingcertification
  2. The OSD Gestalt Center: http://www.gestaltosd.org
  3. NBI® Thinking Preferences Assessment: http://nbicertification.com
  4. Hackman, R.J. & Wageman, R. (2005). A Theory of Team Coaching. The Academy of Management Review. 30(2), 269-287.
  5. Pentland, A.S. (2012). The New Science of Building Great Teams, Harvard Business Review, April, 61-70.
  6. Tuckman Forming, Storming, Norming and Performing model: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman’s_stages_of_group_development
  7. O’Neil, J.O. & Marsick, V.J. (2014). Action Learning Coaching. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(2), 202-221.
  8. Power, A. (2014). Internal Coaching: Stories of Success in Organizations. Chapter by Dr. Rachel Ciporen on Best Practices in Multi-rater Feedback.
  9. Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire based on the work by Gert Hofstede. http://www.itapintl.com




  • Rachel Ciporen, executive coach, consultant and educator based in Brooklyn New York
  • Works with global executives and teams across multiple industries as a faculty member of the Columbia University Coaching Certification Program and the Gestalt OSD Center
  • Work has been published in the Journal of Organization and Leadership, the Academy of Management and Education, and the Journal of Action Research.
  • Started working with people in social work area – community information and suicide hotline. Found that the psychology of work dynamics was often more stressful than what people were bringing on the hotline.
  • Then got interested in Organizational Psychology and got a Master’s degree at Columbia University followed by a Doctorate in Adult Learning and Leadership as well as completed a Gestalt program where she was exposed to working with systems at multiple levels (individuals, dyads, groups and teams) and that is where she got introduced to team coaching.
  • Gestalt OSD Center in Cleveland Ohio with Dr. John Carter
  • Went on to work with Columbia Business school and found when working with leaders as a coach that she would often get asked to also do work with the leader’s team
  • Has had own coaching practice since 2004
  • Has a lot of ongoing clients working with leaders across multiple organizations where team coaching emerges
  • How team and group coaching emerges: as part of leadership development programs, working with individual leaders and CEOs who say they are more aware and effective as a result of one-to-one coaching and now they want support in working with a specific team that they may or may not be leading directly.
  • Theoretical frames that are helpful in team coaching: important distinction between performance vs. development coaching (Hackman & Wageman article on Theory of Team Coaching, 2005 and Pentland, 2012, Harvard Business Review Article on “The New Science of Building Great Teams”). A lot of her work has been in the development area as well on the performance side.
  • Development coaching: how do we get trust in place, how do we get communication lines open, then we can go on to performance.  Coaching on the team’s process in service of the task they are trying to accomplish.
  • Performance coaching: Helping the team achieve it’s mission and objectives. The organization is implementing a business transformation process and has a specific performance goal of getting different parts of the organization working together for example.
  • On Faculty of Columbia’s Coaching Certification Program, have two tracks (for external and internal coaches). May also be offering some advanced programs in the area of team and group coaching in the future (possibly 2015). She is one of the faculty who takes cohorts through coach training.
  • Trend of organizations seeing coaching as part of a systematic and integrated strategic and scalable approach to organizational development 


  • Hit – Team Coaching Success Story:
    • Worked with CEO as an individual coaching client, during the coaching sessions talked about concerns involving employee engagement, bad climate around lack of clear vision and wanted to work with the senior executive team to get things moving in a different direction
    • Team coaching was with the executive team, 7 people
    • 18 month engagement, met once every quarter, half day each session, 6 sessions
    • Very committed, highly ethical group of people and did a lot of work in-between sessions
    • Really focused on the beginning, middle and end
    • Wasn’t a real team
    • Used the NBI Thinking Preferences Assessment to explore similarities and differences – helped with breaking the ice and building some trust
    • Explored a vision of what their team should look like and what metrics could help define their contribution to the organization
    • Lot of siloing going on
    • One area of focus was on how the Executive Team engaged with the CEO. CEO was viewed as a micro-manager and authoritative. Group couldn’t find voice.
    • Ciporen, did qualitative 360 interviews to give each team member feedback. The system is constituted by every individual’s actions that co-create a dynamic and system. Began a process of facilitating honest conversations.
    • Lot of facilitating their discussions on who did they want to be, gap in terms of performance, how do we know we are adding value as a leadership team.
    • After individual feedback it then got into performance around some specific projects. Shifted to more coaching around task and team maintenance. Helped create a space to pause and reflect on action (strategy and execution).
    • Because there was more trust and shared purpose they could shift to more task work
    • Shift from a focus on relationships to task. Focus of relationships is always in service of the task. Hackman and Wagemen 2005, Theory of Team Coaching Where is the team in the performance life cycle?
    • Used process consultation and readings to help them develop their stance as leaders and architects of organizational culture.
    • Shifted meeting structure from one of exchanging information to more about what do we want/need to achieve together and our responsibility in the organizational cultural realm.
    • Engagement came to end following the rollout of a big implementation. Focused on assessment of their outcomes against their original metrics and then some goal setting for next 12 months (not moving forward with a team coach in the next phase).
    • Goal to help clients develop capacity where they don’t depend on team coach moving forward.
    • Key Takeaways:
      • Relationship in service of task
      • Systems thinking: easy for a team or group to unintentionally look for a scapegoat, coach acts to hold the whole team together as a system
      • Used both Hackman & Wagemen 2005 model and the Gestalt systems thinking
  • Misses – Team Coaching Challenge Story:
    • Working with CEO, Entrepreneur and seasoned Exec who was working with an investor and developed a new organization and had a strong vision of what he was looking to build.
    • Wanted support in building and working with a team of 7 people, very diverse group geographically, culturally, gender, age
    • A lot of their work was done virtually
    • Contracted for 3 sessions along with individual coaching for each of the team members
    • Was a co-facilitation: can be helpful working with another team coach to manage the dynamics of a system.
    • Mentioned some hesitancy by one of the team members to participate in the team coaching: didn’t get curious enough in hindsight about this.
    • This team member had the ability to block and stymie the team coaching process. Was very confrontational.
    • Lesson learned: very different views on hierarchy. CEO and team were very participatory and this individual was coming from a much more hierarchical orientation. Wasn’t open to getting feedback and found that disrespectful
    • In hindsight should have examined the power relations in the group, done more homework.
    • Using the self as instrument to explore those hints or signs that something didn’t feel right with hesitancy.
    • Uses the Culture in the Workplace Questionnaire by Hofstede: helpful to use in culturally diverse groups. Our cultural assumptions can be very deep. Dr. Ciporen and CEO were so aligned in their values that they didn’t recognize lack of alignment with this one person.
    • Still works with many members of the team in one-to-one coaching
    • Forming-Storming-Norming-Performing (Tuckman): was a big Storm in this case however it’s important to know that if a big storm happens that it doesn’t mean it is over or the end.
    • The group was acting out a dynamic that they needed to work on however.
    • Key Takeaways:
      • Headline: Slow down, I heard the warning but didn’t heed it and get curious.
      • Remember people are different from you (e.g. has high tolerance for conflict and disagreement) but not everyone does
      • Piece about authority, how opening up dialogue across levels was very threatening to one person
      • Doing pre-interviews with team critical
      • CEO was really the client but needed to really contract and get buy-in with the team as a whole
    • That person ended up pulling out of the process. CEO continued playing the role of bridge-building with this person.
    • Dr. Ciporen continued working with the team and the group below them that reported to the exec team
    • Individual was more comfortable being directed by the CEO in a formal way.

Part 3 – Parting Advice & Resources

  • Continues to see the competencies and skills of both empathy and appreciation of difference as foundational skills that teams need to be more effective in order to achieve their performance goals. Seeing the impact of relationship on performance.
  • Cross-functional team coaching: how conflict is often because people don’t understand the context of the pressures their colleagues are under.
  • O’Neil, J.O. & Marsick, V.J. (2014). Action Learning Coaching. Advances in Developing Human Resources, 16(2), 202-221.
  • Ciporen Best Practices in Multi-rater Feedback. Online book. Internal Coaching – Stories of Success in Coaching. Edited by Dr. Anne Power.
  • Parting advice/inspiration: using the self as instrument. A very powerful metaphor. The number of people in a group or team increases the level of complexity exponentially. Knowing your biases and tendencies as a coach so that you aren’t working against yourself. Not out of place of fear but out of a place from respect. Do your first engagements with a colleague.

How to Contact Dr. Ciporen

  • LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/pub/rachel-ciporen/0/410/748

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