33 Free Ways Teams Can Help Build An Organization’s Future

33 Free Ways Teams Can Help Build An Organization’s Future

Post by George Johnson, Vision Coach and Chief Vision Officer at The Team Coaching Zone

When you think about the vision and future of your organization, the first thing that comes to your mind is your CEO. After all, it’s their job to define that, isn’t it? Not necessarily. Now, we are seeing a dramatic shift in how leaders lead, and this shift is about involving the team in the important decisions affecting the organization. With more openness, collaboration and transparency, leadership can forge a new path ahead. (more…)

Team Coaching Resources (Part 3): Five Team Coach Training Programs

Team Coaching Resources (Part 3): Five Team Coach Training Programs

This the final installment of a three part round-up series on team coaching resources. In Part 1 we looked at 5 team-level assessments geared towards team coaching. In Part 2 we looked at 5 books on team coaching. In this post, Part 3, we are going to be looking at 5 team coach training programs. You can also listen to podcast episodes covering similar content here on iTunes if you prefer the spoken vs. written word 🙂

I want to start off this post by making a few comments about training as a learning vehicle. This is a topic that I’m very familiar with. Two years ago I decided to niche down in one area—team coaching. But before that I was more of a generalist in Learning and Development. I was a consultant, a mediator, a facilitator and most of all a trainer. I spent more than 15 years running 100’s of training workshops all over the world on all kinds of topics: performance management, conflict resolution, leadership and management development, coaching for managers, diversity, ethics and more.

If you checked out Part 2 in this article series on 5 Books on Team Coaching then you will be familiar with the 70-20-10 rule of learning which I briefly discussed. Training falls into the 10% category and plays in my view an important role in one’s development. However for me I left training for coaching as I came to see training as an event that didn’t lead to the sustainable change that I was hoping for my participants. It was often catalytic and got people motivated for change but in the end was insufficient for driving real sustained change. I came to a similar conclusion after running countless team building off-site retreats. I feel like I got pretty good at creating dynamic workshops that would reignite a team’s commitment to their vision and to each other as well as to developing a shared roadmap for moving forward.  However I often observed that the follow-through just wasn’t there to deliver on the goals and objectives agreed to by the end of the retreat sessions. More often than not, business issues were piling up back at the office and when work began the excitement of the retreat would become a distant memory and often dash the best of intentions and well laid-out plans.  The lesson to me is that our habitual ways of working are indeed quite powerful and are not so easily changed.

So you may be asking what I’m trying to get at here. Well the point is, in my view, that becoming a successful team coach requires more than getting trained in a 3 day or even year long team coach certification training program. It really needs to be combined with getting out there and working with real teams (the 70% aspect) and ideally also combined with some supervision or other 20% approach such as: peer learning with another team coach; taking part in group coaching with a group of team coaches; or participating in a master mind group to share lessons learned and generate new ideas.   Malcolm Gladwell in the book Outliers:The Story of Success speaks about the idea of 10,000 hours of requisite practice in order to become a master at something. If we look at our learning and development as team coaches from that 10,000 lens I think it can help us put training programs into their rightful place.

One final point here before getting into the content of this post, I’m pretty eclectic as a practitioner and won’t say which of the programs we are going to be looking at is the best because frankly I’m not sure there is a best one—it really depends on your goals and objectives. I’m grateful for having gone through a number of the programs covered here.  Each one added some unique value to my development as a team coach and I find that they complement each other when working with real-world teams.

Five Team Coach Training Programs

I’ve personally been through three of the five programs covered here. I’ve also interviewed all the creators of the 5 programs on The Team Coaching Zone Podcast and so you may want to listen to those episodes to go deeper and get to know each program more intimately the high level review contained here. This review also isn’t intended to be exhaustive. However based on my survey of the field to date you can count the number of bona fide team coach training programs on two hands. If you have discovered other ones feel free to share your comments below.  All of the programs in this review:

  • Focus specifically on team coaching: they have a stance, a philosophy and a clearly articulated approach to team coaching.
  • Qualify for ICF CCEU’s
  • Offer shorter certificate programs as well as longer in-depth certification offerings
  • Are offered in classroom settings (some in different parts of the world) and some that also offer online and or teleseminar and/or webinar-based options
  • Have been developed by pioneers in the field of team coaching with between 10 years and 30 years of experience
  • Two of the programs also include as part of the program certification in some instruments

The programs are not reviewed in any special order so shouldn’t be interpreted as any type of ranking.  I put them in the order that I took them in which was serendipitous.

#1: Team Advantage™ Team Coach Certification Program offered by The Pyramid Resource Group.

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The first program we’ll briefly cover in this overview is the Team Advantage team coach training program offered by The Pyramid Resource Group.  I came across this program when I interviewed the creator of Team Advantage DJ Mitsch in Episode #009 of the TCZ Podcast. In that episode DJ shares a jaw-dropping story of coaching 60 teams in a pharmaceutical company using the Team Advantage methodology. It’s one of the few examples I’ve come across where team coaching has been done on scale.  DJ was a past president of the International Coaching Federation (ICF), is the President of the Pyramid Resource Group and the Founder of The Healthcare Coaching Institute.  She has been coaching teams for 20+ years and has a lot of wisdom to share based on her experience.

A few months after interviewing DJ for the podcast in the Spring of 2015 I went to Raleigh North Carolina in the United States and got trained in Team Advantage–a three-day interactive workshop that also includes a simulation so that team coaches get to experience the concepts first hand.  Some elements of the approach that standout in my view include:

  • Team Advantage is based around the idea of engaging a team and its leader to accomplish an extraordinary goal in four to six months.
  • The approach builds on the metaphor of a business game and is designed to help the team tap into its creative potential.
  • It unfolds in four phases:
    • Phase 1: Assessment phase and coaching of the team leader to establish a foundation for the process.
    • Phase 2: Kickoff phase – a workshop where the team identifies an extraordinary goal, develops a gameplan and scoreboard for tracking progress towards achieving the extraordinary goal and contracts with the team coach for the ongoing coaching sessions that follow the kickoff.
    • Phase 3: Ongoing coaching phase where the team coach coaches the team via12 one-hour sessions over a 16 week period as the team marches towards achieving its extraordinary goal.
    • Phase 4: Celebration phase where the team acknowledges its success, celebrates its achievement and plans its next extraordinary goal.
  • It’s a structured approach yet provides flexibility.
  • It’s scalable.
  • More than 300 teams have accomplished extraordinary goals through the Team Advantage process
  • The scoreboard tracking methodology is brilliant

After getting trained in Team Advantage, I had the opportunity to co-team coach a team using the Team Advantage process.  To date it remains one of the best team coaching engagements I’ve experienced since making the plunge into team coaching a few years ago.  It was a textbook example.

I think Team Advantage helps team coaches avoid some of the common pitfalls team coaches often experience including: 1) not having the team leader fully on board before the team coaching ensues; 2) not having a lazer-focused goal for the team to accomplish that requires team coaching; 3) the ongoing team coaching petering out following a kickoff because of the daily competing priorities that teams face.

So I highly recommend this program and think it is a great first training for team coaches to consider as it provides a step-by-step approach for coaching a team.  It’s also useful for experienced team coaches looking to add some novel aspects to their team coaching approach and toolbox.  One final point I would say is that the Pyramid Resource Group has done a great job of productizing a team coaching service which makes it scalable and something that team coaches can immediately offer coming right out the gate.  The Team Advantage materials are professional and there is great support for team coaches in terms of sales and marketing materials.

So if you want to learn more I would encourage you to listen to episode #009 with DJ Mitsch to get a flavor for her and this approach. You can also listen to a great episode with Allieson Crumpler #043 on how she took Team Advantage into her company as an internal team coach and how, after coaching 12 teams in two years, a team coaching culture is taking root. Good stuff there. You can also check out: www.team-advantage.com to learn more about upcoming training workshops.

#2: Systemic Team Coaching Certificate/Certification Training Program offered by the Academy of Executive Coaching

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I interviewed Professor Peter Hawkins back in episode #019 where he introduces listeners to the Systemic Team Coaching approach to team coaching.  In systemic team coaching the team coach coaches the team in relation to its systemic context. Peter defines it as:

“A process by which a team coach works with a whole team, both when they are together and when they are apart, in order to help them improve both their collective performance and how they work together, and also how they develop their collective leadership to more effectively engage with all their key stakeholder groups to jointly transform the wider business.” – Peter Hawkins, PhD, 2014 Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership

The Team Coaching Zone brought Peter Hawkins over from the UK earlier this year in January to the Columbia University Club in New York City for a 3-day Systemic Team Coaching certificate training program. It was totally excellent and participants were highly satisfied with the training.  Peter pioneered the Systemic Team Coaching approach over a career spanning 30+ years.  He has partnered with John Leary-Joyce  and company at the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC) to offer both a 3 day Certificate program as well as a one year STC diploma program. (Check out TCZ Episode #055 with John Leary-Joyce to hear his perspective on Systemic Team Coaching).

Some elements of this approach that stand out to me include:

  • That it is based on the 5 disciplines of high performing teams model which provides a great team coaching framework.
  • It is quite flexible – each team may require more or less coaching in any of the 5 disciplines areas.
  • Is based on extensive application by Peter Hawkins and his colleagues with real world teams. Check out the companion book called Leaders Team Coaching In Practice which provides a number of case studies that explore the application of STC with real teams.
  • Includes access to the Team Connect 360 which was reviewed in the first post in this article series on team-level team coaching assessments.
  • Is useful for both high performance team coaching, leadership team coaching, transformational leadership team coaching as well as systemic team coaching (i.e. it can be applied to increasingly levels of complexity and teams operating at different levels in an organization’s hierarchy).
  • It helps teams avoid the trap of becoming highly effective internally yet not engaging their external stakeholders adequately.

I’ve been using the framework quite extensively in my team coaching practice and have been very satisfied to date with the results I’m getting. While there is a process (called CID-CLEAR) which helps a team coach through the various stages of the team coaching process and includes suggestions for coaching the team in each of the 5 disciplines, this approach doesn’t, in my view, provide a step-by-step formula. As such team coaches need to be able to co-create and design the ongoing coaching process with the team that fits their goals and objectives. I think this tends to favor more experienced coaches and those who have experience working as organizational development consultants doing customized team interventions.  As you can probably tell, I’m a real fan and recommend it without hesitation.

To learn more you can check out the podcast episodes with Peter (#019) and John Leary-Joyce (#055). You might also check out Peter’s book on Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership and go to www.aoec.com for more information.

 #3: Certified Team Performance Coach (CTPC) Certification Program offered by Team Coaching International

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I took Team Coaching International’s (TCI) 3-day Master Class a few months ago with Co-Founder Phil Sandhal and it offers yet another solid option for team coaches.  Phil is well-known in the coaching world for his work with the Coaches Training Institute (CTI) and for co-writing the book Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives with CTI Co-Founders Henry and Karen Kimsey-House and Laura Whitworth.

Back around 2004 Phil along with his partner Alexis Phillips co-founded TCI and began niching down into the team coaching space.  I had the good fortune to interview Phil on the TCZ podcast in Episode #024 as well as the CEO of TCI George Johnson in episode #036. This approach revolves around their research into high team performance which reveals two main factors: Productivity and Positivity. Each factor is broken down into 7 sub-dimensions. These 14 team performance indicators help a team reveal where to invest time and resources to improve performance.  The 7 productivity indicators include: proactive, goals & strategies, leadership, accountability, alignment, decision making, and resources. The 7 positivity indicators include: trust, optimism, constructive interaction, communication, camaraderie, values diversity and respect

Some elements of this approach that stand out in my view include:

  • A focus on measurement: TCI finds an average increase of 20% on the 14 team performance indicators when teams employ the TCI approach.
  • Lot’s of case examples and metrics to demonstrate measurable results through team coaching.
  • Have developed a suite of 4 assessments (Team Diagnostic, Team LeaderView, Team 360 View, Organization View) that provide coaches with a set of tools that can diagnose a team’s strengths and growth areas, identify areas for coaching and that provides the ability to measure the results of a team coaching engagement.
  • They have identified 4 principles that guide the team coaching process, 5 essential competencies of a team coach along with specific skills associated with each competency. Also included is a 3 phase approach: 1) Discovery & Assessment; 2) Ongoing Coaching; 3) Completion and Next Steps

Their approach to certification (i.e. becoming a Certified Team Performance Coach) has 3 components:

  1. An online self-study course called Understand and Access the Tools
  2. Accelerated Learning – combination of self-study and group calls facilitated by a TCI Faculty member
  3. Master Class – a 3 day in-person course

I completed the Understand and Access the Tools course as well as the Master Class.  I found that taking the online course first was excellent as it offloaded a lot of the basic cognitive knowledge behind the approach.  When you get to the Master Class you can dive right in without having to learn a lot of basic concepts.

So in summary this is yet another solid offering that provides a nice balance between structure and flexibility and that gives both new and experienced team coaches a lot of practical takeaways. Folks can listen to podcast #024 with Phil Sandhal and episode #036 with George Johnson to learn more about TCI’s approach. Also episodes #044 with Mazher Ahmad on Scaling Internal Team Coaching and #040 with Carissa Bub on What is Your Team’s Story also are episodes with team coaches that incorporate the TCI assessments and framework into their work.

One other final point: Phil is coming out with a book on team coaching in 2017 so stay tuned for that! That should be a great resource for team coaches.

#4: Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching (ORSC) Certification Training Program by CRR Global.

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It wasn’t long interviewing guests on the podcast before I started hearing about The Organization and Relationship Systems Coaching program (ORSC) offered by CRR Global. I’ve interviewed both co-founders and creators Marita Fridjhon (#020 and #051) and Faith Fuller (#048). I personally haven’t been through ORSC yet to date though hope to do so in the future. A number of the guests of my show and some of my team coaching colleagues have been through the program however and given positive reviews.

ORSC revolves around the idea of Relationship Systems Intelligence—which extends emotional and social intelligence into the realm of understanding the intelligence that resides in systems.   When you are part of team that is in flow, that is creating synergy, or really in the zone–that’s when a team is tapping into its RSI.  So this approach looks at fostering and leveraging the collective intelligence of the team.  The team coach coaches the team to tap into what is trying to emerge – all systems are in a state of emergence.

There are five courses in the ORSC series:

  1. Organization and Relationship Systems at Work: 2 days; how to see the system, hear it, and sense it; the emotional field
  2. Systems Intelligence: 3 days; all about change; individuals, couples, teams, organizations, nations
  3. Systems Geography: 3 days; all about the structure of systems; leveraging diversity and how to work with roles; ghost roles that haunt the system; how to work with triggers
  4. Relationship Systems Path: 3 days; how to bring out the creativity and generativity within a team
  5. Systems Integration: 3 days; bringing it all together

Following the 5 courses one can continue on to become ORSC certified. It’s an 8 month program broken down into two four-month semesters with a 3 week break in between.  Included in the 8 month program are: 90-minute Skill Drill calls; 17 hours of supervision (5 hours of group supervision, six hours of live team coaching supervision and 6 hours of individual one-to-one supervision); colleague calls, a World Work Project; 100 hours of coaching; and a 3 day residential training.  So this is a rigorous and deep program that addresses, in my view, many of the limitations of training that I mentioned at the outset of this post.

CRR Global did a survey with ORSCC graduates and found that:

  • 41% saw an increase of over 6 new clients
  • 53% reported an increase in corporate clients
  • 71% reported a shift to full fee clients
  • 77% became very confident in speaking about organization and relationship systems coaching with prospective clients
  • 82% raised their hourly rate, and of that group, 76% charged $250 per hour or more

So for folks who want to learn more check out TCZ episodes with Marita Fridjhon (#020 and #051) and Faith Fuller (#048).  Marita just came out earlier this year with her book Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence which was the focus we explored in episode #051. You can go to crrglobal.com for more information.

#5: The Advanced Group and Team Coaching Intensive and Practicum with Potentials Realized

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I discovered Jennifer Britton, the Founder of Potentials Realized, back in episode #011 and learned about her compelling journey into group and team coaching.  Jennifer is based in Canada and wrote one of the first books on group coaching called Effective Group Coaching in 2009 and then went on to write the book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching in 2013.

I haven’t personally attended any of Jennifer’s trainings however a few listeners of the podcast have attended and have reported being very satisfied.  Jennifer offers a range of telephone-based, webinar-based (Zoom) as well as in-person training workshops (Toronto and Muskoka) for coaches as well as in-house for organizations.

She offers 3 main programs:

  1. The Advanced Group and Team Caoching Practicum – delivered virtually by Zoom, there are 6 x 75 minute calls which takes a deeper dive into group and team coaching topics and where coaches can get practice and feedback on their skills.
  2. Group and Team Coaching Intensive – a 2 day workshop offered in-person which she faciliates in both Toronto and Muskoka Canada and also which she provides in house to organizations. In this course she takes people into best practices and hands-on practice.
  3. Group Coaching Essentials – delivered via tele seminar (i.e. phone conference), 5 x 75 minute calls which provides essential training in group coaching.

So yet another solid set of programs for team coaches to consider.  You can learn more at potentialsrealized.com and also check out episode #011 with Jennifer. Her book From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching, which I highlighted in the last article on Five Books on Team Coaching, may also be a good entry for folks wanting to take the plunge into the realm of Potentials Realized and Jennifer Britton.

So there you have it! 5 solid Team Coach Training programs.  I think you will be happy pursuing any of these offerings.  I suggest you try to attend one of the workshops with the creators of these programs if possible.  All of them have deep experience in team coaching, have written books and articles on the topic and have been pioneers in the field.  There is a saying that: “you are the average of the 5 people you spend the most time with.”  So surrounding yourself with any of these pioneers is likely to rub off on you in a positive way! 🙂

Some Additional Options

As the team coaching field heats up I imagine we are going to see more team coach training programs coming out.  Two programs that I’ve recently discovered include the Coaching Agile Teams 3.0 program offered by The Agile Coaching Institute. I learned about this program through my recent episode with Bob Costello on Coaching Agile Teams (Episode #53). I’m hoping to have more interviews on this approach to team coaching that originates in the software industry.  Also stay tuned for an upcoming podcast episode this Fall with Alexander Caillet at Corentus who just this year launched the firm’s first team coaching certificate program (http://www.corentus.com/team-coaching-certificate-program/).  If you have attended a team coaching training program that wasn’t included in the list here please do add your voice in the comment section of this post below.

I’ll close this article series out by mentioning two instrument-centered certification programs.  These are two instruments that I’ve been using in my team coaching practice with much success:  The Team Diagnostic Survey developed by Richard Hackman and Ruth Wageman and The Team Emotional Intelligence Assessment by Drs. Vanessa Druskat, Steven Wolff and Geetu Bharwaney.  These two instruments have some world-class research behind them and that lend themselves particularly well to team coaching. They don’t have a full-blown team coaching framework and methodology behind them like the programs mentioned in the above review.  However each one is linked to the team coaching industry and make explicit linkages to team coaching and therefore, in my view, warrant a look by team coaches.

The Team Coaching Zone will be hosting a special three-day training with Dr. Ruth Wageman in New York City (November 9-11) titled: “Diagnosing and Coaching Teams Using the Team Diagnostic Survey.”  Ruth is a leading scholar-practitioner in the area of teams. She wrote the book: Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great and the first peer reviewed article on team coaching along with Richard Hackman called “A Theory of Team Coaching” which appeared in the January 2005 issue of the Academy of Management Review.  Check out episode #039 with her and #047 with Trexler Proffitt to learn more about this offering.  You can also check out more information on the November program at http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/events/.

I have a podcast episode with Drs. Druskat and Wolff on Team Emotional Intelligence and the Team Ei Survey coming out in the next few days so stay tuned for that to learn more about this great team coaching tool and the research that spawned it. The accreditation course consists of two 3-hour webinars which prepares you to deploy the instrument as part of your team coaching engagements. You can check out podcast episode #029 with Dr. Geetu Bharwaney where she discusses applying the Team Ei Survey as part her team coaching work.

Finally If you are a subscriber to the TCZ newsletter which comes out roughly every 1 to 2 weeks, there is a section of the newsletter on upcoming team coach trainining programs where you can find workshop dates and locations.  The creators of a number of these training programs have offerred some special discounts to subscribers of the Team Coaching Zone. So feel free to check that out.  You can subscribe to the TCZ newsletter at: http://www.teamcoachingzone.com.

Alright, well that wraps up this 3-part article series on Team Coaching Resources where we reviewed 5 Team Level Assessments (Part 1), 5 Team Coaching Books (Part 2), and 5 Team Coach Training Programs (Part 3).  I hope you found the series useful. I welcome your comments, likes and shares below.  Have a great rest of your week and remember to Stay in the Zone!

Krister Lowe, PhD, CPCC

Organizational Psychologist, Leadership and Team Coach, & Host of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast

Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist, a Leadership and Team Coach, and the Creator of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast and Website (www.TeamCoachingZone.com). Dr. Lowe is a specialist in team coaching, conflict resolution and performance management and has more than fifteen years of experience consulting to diverse organizations in more than 25 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. His coaching, consulting, facilitation and training interventions have reached more than 25,000 people globally. He is the Host of The Team Coaching Zone podcast–a weekly interview show that explores the art and science of team coaching–and that has a listenership in more than 95 countries around the world.

Team Coaching Resources (Part 2): Five Books on Team Coaching

Team Coaching Resources (Part 2): Five Books on Team Coaching

A book is a device to ignite the imagination.  -Alan Bennett

(Note: This article was originally published on LinkedIn.  View it here on LinkedIn.)


My relationship with books has resembled a tumultuous love affair.  Utterly enraptured one moment only to be followed by a crash and burn falling out the next.  In college I majored in English Literature.  The crushing number of books I had to read beat the love for reading out of me by the time I graduated.  While pursuing my Master’s Degree in Social-Organizational Psychology some 6 years later I had recovered and rediscovered my passion for books.  But this time they were more practical and scientific and revolved around themes such as leadership, teams, conflict resolution, organization change, and the like.  By the time I was waist-deep into my doctoral training (also in Social Organizational Psychology) a few years later, books had been replaced with an explosion of articles that distilled the latest insights from theory, research and practice down into 10 to 20 pages for rapid and mass consumption. And so now after a long drought (and a second recovery!) I’m back to reading books but this time they tend to revolve around the specific theme of team coaching.

In this second in a three-part article series on Team Coaching Resources, I’m going to be providing a brief overview of 5 books that I recommend on the topic of coaching teams in organizations.  I have discovered these books from interviewing guests on my podcast show The Team Coaching Zone.  These books have impacted my understanding and approach to team coaching in quite meaningful ways.  In the 1st article published last week, entitled Team Coaching Resources (Part 1): Five Team-Level AssessmentsI provided an overview of five team-level assessments that I’ve also discovered through the podcast interviews.  In the 3rd article coming out next week, I will provide an overview of some of the main team coach training programs that I’ve discovered along the journey of the show as well.  I’ve also recorded podcasts episodes focusing on these themes in case you prefer to listen by audio. (The episodes are available for free download via iTunes, SoundCloud, Google Play Music, Sticher Radio.  Go to The Team Coaching Zone to find ways to listen).

While there are countless books on teams, team effectiveness and teaming, you can count the number of books specifically on the topic of “team coaching” probably with the fingers on one or two hands.  Team coaching is an emerging niche area within the broader coaching field and as such the number of books available on the subject is somewhat limited. However there are a few solid books on the topic that I feel provide both new as well as experienced practitioners with some solid guidance on the subject.  I’m suspect that we will see more books coming out on the topic in the coming years.

I’m going to break down this post into 3 sections:

  • A) A brief discussion of the 70-20-10 rule of learning that puts books into context as one of a number of learning vehicles for team coaches.
  • B) An overview of 5 books specifically on the topic of team coaching that I’ve discovered through the podcast interviews that I think warrant a closer look by team coaches.
  • C) A brief overview of 10 additional books on the broader topic of teams and teaming that I think may be worth a look by team coaches as well in order to develop a broader knowledge base and context for team coaching. 

A. The 70-20-10 Rule of Learning

Producing a podcast show in one’s niche area has a number of obvious as well as hidden benefits. Chief among these is LEARNING.  Interviewing a thought leader once per week results in a steady drip feeding of new concepts, frameworks, tips, inspirational anecdotes, lessons learned from successes and failures, as well as exposure to new books, assessments and training programs.  I can’t say enough about how important learning is for us as team coaches. Since team coaching is fundamentally a process of learning and change, it goes without saying that we as team coaches need to be modeling this process within ourselves to be effective. The learning and stretching we do gets immediately reflected in the value we bring to our clients and keeps our primary tool (the self as instrument) sharpened and ready for action.

You are likely familiar with the 70-20-10 rule of learning which suggests that:

  • 70% of what we learn comes through doing (i.e. on the job experience)
  • 20% comes through relationships (e.g. mentors, coaches, supervision, role models, etc…)
  • 10% comes through formal and informal modes (e.g. training courses, books, articles, blog posts, webinars, podcasts, etc…)

As team coaches its important to consider the myriad ways we can accelerate our learning.  I find it interesting how the dominant emphasis tends to be on attending certification trainings. The amount of money spent on such training likely dominates most expenditures on learning.  While I’m a believer that such trainings are important and useful and have their place, the 70-20-10 rule would suggest that we should be allocating our resources a bit differently.  How many of us as team coaches for example have ongoing supervision, engage in co-team coaching, or shadow more experienced coaches?  I think there is a wide open field for broadening our mindset and approaches to learning as coaches.  I know for me hosting a regular podcast show has been an unintended but secret weapon in this regard.

So where do books–that old, tried, true and tested learning vehicle–fit in to the equation? Well they definitely fit in the 10% category.  A world of caution: just because most of our learning tends to come through the 70 and 20 approaches mentioned above, it doesn’t mean that those approaches can exert transformative effects. Small things can have dramatic impacts under the right conditions.  A good book can definitely transform your thinking and practice.  Kurt Lewin the famous social psychologist said that “there is nothing so practical as a good theory.” The point is that the driver behind all of our techniques and skills is our mindset–the mental frameworks that breath spirit into and that guide our actions. For me the books that we are going to be taking a look at in this post, can help you challenge your own concepts, your own theories of change and give you ideas about how team coaching can unfold in new and exciting ways.

Okay enough preaching! Let’s get on with introducing 5 great books on team coaching that I’ve discovered on my podcast and that have exerted significant impacts on how practice as a team coach today.

B. Five Books on Team Coaching

#1) Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership by Peter Hawkins, PhD published in 2014 (2nd Edition) by Kogan Page.


If there was one book that has influenced me the most this is it.  Peter Hawkins contributions to the team coaching field have been super-ground breaking.  The Team Coaching Zone brought Peter over to New York city earlier this year to do a 3-day Systemic Team Coaching certificate training program and the session didn’t disappoint in the least.  I just looked on my bookshelf to grab the book and sure enough it wasn’t there! My wife always seems to be stealing it from me! So Honey, if in the unlikely event that you are reading this post, can return the book? Thanks! 🙂  All kidding aside, I had the good fortune of interviewing Peter back in episode #019 and recommend you take a listen to that episode. You can also watch a short 4 minute YouTube video of Peter introducing the 5 Disciplines of High Performing teams here. I often use this video when introducing Systemic Team Coaching to teams.

I think all team coaches need to understand the body of knowledge Peter has pioneered in the area of Systemic Team Coaching and that has also been further developed through his collaboration with the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC). You can check out a podcast I recently did with John Leary-Joyce the founder of the AoEC here as well.

There are a lot of gems in the book Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership.  Here are a few standouts:

  • The continuum of team coaching: a continuum that distinguishes team building, team facilitation, process consultation, high performance team coaching, leadership team coaching, transformational leadership team coaching and systemic team coaching
  • The 5 Disciplines of High Performing Teams framework
  • The CID-CLEAR team coaching process model
  • The journey of the team leader from Team Manager –> Team Leader –> Team Orchestrator –> Team Coach
  • Developing as a team coach
  • Supervision of team coaches
  • Team coaching methods, tools and techniques

In addition to being a great ongoing reference for me as a team coach, I’ve found it helpful to send a copy to team leaders as well as to the members on leadership teams as part of the team coaching process.

So a big shout out and salute to Peter Hawkins here. He’s a great role model for team coaches and the rare find of someone who has been not only a thought leader and teacher but who has also really gotten up to his elbows with teams to apply these principles and techniques over more than 30 years.  I can’t say enough good things about Peter and feel that this book is an essential.

It also should be noted that there is a companion book edited by Peter entitled: Leadership Team Coaching in Practice: Development High-Performing Teams.  This book contains a number of case studies from actual team coaching engagements in a range of industries and that illustrate the Systemic Team Coaching approach.  It also covers some additional themes of interest to team coaches (e.g. the latest research on high performing teams, embodied approaches to team coaching, training systemic team coaches, and more).

#2) Coaching the Team At Work by Professor David Clutterbuck published in 2007 by Nicholas Brealey. 

Coaching the Team at Work

This book which came out in 2007 is probably one of the first books dedicated directly to the topic of team coaching.  I had the good fortune to interview David on the podcast back in episode #052.  David is a real personality: brilliant and funny and a very prolific writer.  He has published more than 50 books including a number on coaching and mentoring.  Some of the specific elements I like in Coaching the Team at Work are:

  • A nice introductory chapter on What is Coaching?
  • A section on the business case for team coaching which provides some arguments for the benefits of engaging in team coaching
  • Four models of team coaching placed on a directive to nondirective continuum
  • The concept of learning teams: what is a learning team, 6 types of learning teams and how to coach a learning team.  This is one of the most substantive parts of the book where David dedicates over 75 pages to the topic.  The book is worth purchasing for this section alone.
  • The self-coaching team
  • Distinctions between team building and team coaching

This book may be a good first read for a would-be-team-coach as it provides a nice broad overview and introduction to team coaching as well as some depth.  It also will appeal to experienced team coaches as a reference for specific topics of interest (e.g. coaching different types of teams including learning teams and virtual teams, transitioning teams to self-coaching, working with team leaders, and more…).

#3) From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching by Jennifer Britton, published in 2013 by Josey-Bass/Wiley.


I discovered Jennifer early on back in episode #011.  She has done a great job of distinguishing group coaching–where the focus is on the individual’s development in a group setting–from that of team coaching–where the focus is on the development and performance of the team as a whole. She calls them “related sisters”–both sub-disciplines within the larger coaching field.  This is a very well written and edited book. It is a really solid work that sets a high standard. I would say individuals new to team coaching would also do well to consider this as a first read on the subject.

Some noteworthy aspects of the book in my view include:

  • The section on 12 best practices in group and team coaching
  • The core competencies for group and team coaches with linkages to ICF’s competency framework
  • The roles of coaching, facilitating and training in team coaching: fusion of approaches
  • The 5 stages of a team coaching process
  • Tricky issues in team coaching and when/why team coaching may fail
  • Virtual design and delivery of team coaching
  • Creating connection and engagement throughout the team coaching process
  • Co-facilitation
  • Trends in team and group coaching
  • An appendix with some exercises, tools and resources for group and team coaches

Again, this is a solid introduction and resource for team coaches.  Also team coaches who aren’t familiar with group coaching may find this book a double benefit as team coaching interventions can often be blended with group coaching as well (e.g. working with a leadership team on both individual leadership development as well as the team’s collective development and performance).

#4) High Performance Team Coaching: A Comprehensive System for Leaders and Coaches by Jacqueline Peters & Catherine Carr published by FrisenPress in 2013.


Among the first to get doctoral degrees based on a co-dissertation on team coaching, Dr. Jacqueline Peters and Dr. Catherine Carr have produced a very slim yet solid and practical resource on high performance team coaching.  I had the good fortune to interview Dr. Peters in episode #012 and Dr. Carr in episode #013.

Peters and Carr were students of Peter Hawkins and it was through them that I discovered his great work on systemic team coaching.  This book is another another great resource for team coaches that provides a step-by-step approach to coaching teams for performance.  Some aspects of the book that stand out:

  • It can be read in a few hours – it’s slim (only 80 pages), affordable and available both in hard copy as well as in e-book format
  • Very practical with some great tips and tools for team coaches
  • Supported by solid research based on the work of Hackman and Wageman, Hawkins and others
  • Provides a great 6 step team coaching cycle and model which I found really helpful when I was first getting deeper into team coaching. The 6 steps include: 1) Assessment, 2) Coaching for Team Design, 3) Team Launch, 4) Individual Coaching, 5) Ongoing Team Coaching (including Peer Coaching), 6) Review Learning and Successes.
  • The role of psychological safety at the center of the model
  • Team cycle: the 6 phases of team coaching mapped onto the beginning, midpoint and ending phases of a team’s lifecycle

This book provides new coaches with a great resource for jumping right into the “pool” of team coaching and also will provide more experienced team coaches with a range of useful concepts, tips and resources that make it worth a look.

#5) Group and Team Coaching: The Secret Life of Groups by Christine Thornton, 2nd Edition published by Routledge in 2016.


This gem of a book was just published a few months ago in 2016.  I have an interview lined up with Christine in October and am looking forward to bringing the episode out to the listeners then.  This book’s distinction is that it is grounded in a 70 year tradition: the group analysis / group relations / group dynamics body of work.  I’ve had a number of listeners of the podcast requesting for more information on this approach.  This book is the one that helps connect this tradition specifically to the area of group and team coaching.

When the book arrived in the mail I was surprised at how small it was.  However once I opened it up I discovered how much substance is in this book.  This book will take you into this 70+ year tradition and help you get up to seed quickly and practically.  Th group analysis and group relations tradition is one that all team coaches should be familiar with in my view.  Some aspects of the books that I think stand out include:

  • 9 Group processes – the secret life of groups (Group Matrix, Communication, Translation, Mirroring, Exchange, Resonance, Condenser Phenomena, Location, The Reflection Process)
  • 8 group factors that influence learning and change (Connectedness and Belonging, Interpersonal Learning, Competition/Envy/Admiration, Idealization and Emulation, Practicing Courage and Freedom to Act, Witnessing and Being Witnessed, Encouragement, Group Performance Coaching)
  • Teams and groups that don’t work: dysfunctional teams and dynamics
  • Managing beginnings, middles and endings with groups and teams
  • How to use tools in team coaching: 7 rules
  • Contracting
  • Substantive models and information on coaching groups vs. teams
  • Working with the team leader and the team: dual loyalty
  • Strategies for tackling problematic behaviors that can crop up and more

So for folks wanting to go deeper into the psychological dynamics underlying groups and teams, this is the book for you. While it touches on deep concepts its also very practical and will leave you with practical insights that you can apply immediately as a team coach.

During my graduate work I did a significant amount of training in group relations and have found it super helpful for me as a team coach. Specifically it has helped when the the psychodynamic processes going on in groups gets tough–this body of knowledge helps you with “holding” the group.  In addition to reading the book, team coaches would do well to attend a group relations conference in order to experience these dynamics first hand.  When the team coaching engagements I’m a part of fail, they usually boil down to one of the themes laid out in this book.


Alright, well there you have it: the top 5 books that I would recommend on team coaching. I don’t think you can go wrong with any of these. I’ve delved into all 5 personally and they each have had an impact on my team coaching practice. You may wish to listen to podcast episodes with each author before purchasing one of the books in order to get a feel for their ideas and style.

I’m sure there are some other books out there on the topic of team coaching that I haven’t yet discovered or covered here. I know some additional books are in the works including one by Phil Sandal that it coming out next year in 2017. I’m looking forward to that one in particular.   And as the field heats up I imagine we are going to see a proliferation of books on the topic.  Feel free to share your recommendations on books that specifically focus on team coaching in a comment to this post.

C. Ten Additional Books on Teams and Teaming

Obviously there is a broader literature on teams, teaming and team effectiveness and performance. As team coaches it goes without saying that we should have a broad and rich background of knowledge about teams in general to support our craft.

In this section I want to briefly cover some books that don’t focus on team coaching per se but that I’ve come across and discovered via my interviews with thought leaders and that I think you may want to check out.  Again this list isn’t exhaustive so I hope you’ll excuse me if your favorite book on teams doesn’t show up!

1) Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances by Dr. Richard Hackman (2002) and Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes to Make Them Great by Wageman, Nunes, Burruss and Hackman (2008). I’ve written a number of blog posts on the great research underlying these works that focus on the 3 Essential and 3 Enabling Conditions that underlie team effectiveness.  In these works, Dr. Richard Hackman and Dr. Ruth Wageman lay out some world class research on teams, the role and need for team coaching, clearly defined outcome measures for team coaching as well as a diagnostic instrument that team coaches may find particularly useful in team coaching engagements.  Check out the following podcasts to learn more about this body of work: Ruth Wageman, PhD on “Reflections on the Theory, Research and Practice of Team Coaching.”  http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/ruthwageman/. Trexler Proffitt, PhD on “The Team Diagnostic Survey: Coaching Teams for High Performance.” http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/trexlerproffittphd/.

2) Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High-Performance Organization by Jon Katzenbach and Douglas Smith (1st edition, 1999).  This is a very practical book based on extensive work with real-world teams.  The authors lay out a Team Performance Curve which maps the developmental stages of a team from a working group –> a pseudo team –> a potential team –> a real team –> a high performing team.  Of particular benefit to team coaches will be the author’s findings on the team basics that drive team effectiveness including: small #, complementary skills, common purpose and performance goals, common approach, mutual accountability. A classic that in my view belongs on the shelf of every team coach.

3) Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate and Compete in the Knowledge Economy (2014) by Amy Edmundson. This book provides a great overview of the historical trends and forces bearing down on organizations and why teams have become the fundamental unit of organizational learning today.  Edmundson makes an important distinction between team as a noun vs. teaming as verb and suggests a shift to a more dynamic way of thinking about teams.  I also appreciate her perspective on the fundamental shift underway in organizations from the “organizing to execute” model to the “organizing to learn” model.

4) Team of Teams: New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World (2015) by General Stanley McChrystal, Tantum Collins, David Silverman, and Chris Fussell.  This is one of my favorite recent books on teams.  Based on the experiences of the Special Operations Forces who faced the challenge of developing a new teaming-based approach to fighting a nimble unconventional adversary (Al Qaeda) this book is ground breaking in many respects.  In addition to being a very compelling story, the book provides a template for scaling up large numbers of small nimble teams to collaborate on a large scale.  The book has a number of implications for organizations of any type and, in my view, provides team coaches with a way of thinking about scaling up team coaching beyond just one or a few teams in an organization.  Look for an upcoming Team Coaching Zone podcast episode with co-author of the book David Silverman who is the CEO of CrossLead–a company that is bringing the insights from Team of Teamsinto the world of business.

5) Creating Intelligent Teams: Leading with Relationship Systems Intelligence (2016) by Anne Rod and Marita Fridjhon. I’ve had the good fortune of interviewing Marita Fridjohn from CRR Global twice (Episode #020 and #Episode #051 where she provides an overview of her new book).  The book provides a wealth of wisdom based on Marita’s distinguished career coaching individuals, teams and systems.  The book gets into why we need intelligent teams and provides a deep dive into Relationship Systems Intelligence which extends emotional and social intelligence into the realm of systems. The book covers a number of themes including the competencies of intelligent teams, a three phase approach to working with and developing intelligent teams, change in teams and more.  The book is designed to be practical and contains a range of tips and exercises in addition to a paradigmatic shift in the way we think of teams.

6) Extraordinary Groups: How Ordinary Teams Achieve Amazing Results (2009) by Geoffrey Bellman and Kathleen Ryan.  This book, recommended by a guest on the podcast, provides a great evidence-based look into the essential factors that give rise to high performance in teams.  The work presents a Group Needs model that can help teams, team leaders and team coaches nurture groups to extraordinary performance.  I have been listening to this book recently via audiobook and have found it useful.  I appreciate that the book is based on insights from extensive work interviewing extraordinary teams in an incredibly diverse range of industries.

7) Coaching Agile Teams: A Companion for ScrumMasters, Agile Coaches and Project Managers in Transition (2010) by Lyssa Adkins.  I came across this book while interviewing Bob Costello on the topic of coaching agile teams in the software development field back in episode #053.  This book provides a great dive into being and becoming an agile team coach and how to coach an agile team.  I think this is another domain that team coaches should spend some time becoming familiar with even if they aren’t working in the technology and software sector.  Stayed tuned for more upcoming podcasts on team coaching with agile teams in the near future.

8) Great Business Teams: Cracking the Code for Standout Performance (2008) by Howard Guttman.  This book has been recommended a number of times on the podcast.  This book dives into more than 30 examples that demystify high performing teams at the top levels, business unit levels and functional levels.  A 5 factor framework points towards the ingredients that lead to high team performance. Another solid resource for team coaches who want to expand their background reading on what leads to high performing teams from an author who has been deep in the trenches.

9) The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable (2002) by Patrick Lencioni.  I couldn’t neglect to mention this well-know classic. Written in the form of fictional tale of a struggling Silicon Valley firm and its female CEO who helps a dysfunctional executive committee to become a team and succeed, this book uses storytelling to convey some deep insights into teams. The book lays out the 5 dysfunctions: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and inattention results.  It also includes a questionnaire that teams, team leaders and team coaches can use for assessing these shortcomings.

10) Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable Problems (2014) by Barry Johnson, PhD.  I discovered this compelling body of work back in episode #017 with Cliff Kayser.  All teams and organizations face polarities (also known as paradox, wicked problems, chronic tensions, and dilemmas) that as author Barry Johnson suggests cannot be solved but that can be managed.  When teams and organizations identify the polarities (interdependent pairs) that are at play, the power latent in these “energy systems” can be harnessed to drive change.  As a team coach I find these polarities constantly revealing themselves.  While not a book specifically on teams like the ones mentioned above, this book has deep implications for teams and team coaching.


In this post I’ve attempted to provide team coaches with some recommendations on the main books on team coaching out there that I’ve discovered through my interviews with thought leaders on The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  I’ve also tried to put books into the broader context of learning using the well-known 70-20-10 rule.  In addition I’ve suggested some books that touch on the broader topic of teams, teaming and team performance.

I know that many other books not mentioned above have come up during my podcast interviews like Kegan’s Immunity to Change, Schein’s Process Consultation, LaLoux on Reinventing Organizations and more. Other guests on the show including Bill Torbert, Barry Jentz, Andrew Sillitoe, Geetu Bharwaney, and Jim Tamm have also published books that are relevant to team coaching as well. However in this post I have limited the review to those 10 I just mentioned.  Once again feel free to chime in with comments to this post on your favorite book on teams.  I’m particularly interested in ones that you may have discovered on the topic of team coaching that were not mentioned here.

I hope you found this post useful. I don’t know about you but it can be challenging to find the time to read in our busy lives. While we may learn the most through doing and through relationships such as mentoring and coaching, sometimes spending time with a great book whether in audio or hard copy format can surely be worth the investment.  One compelling idea can have a ripple effect on your practice as a team coach and can make all the difference. I hearken back to the time when I was a college and a graduate student and how much reading I was required to do. I wish I had the above list of books back then!  It surely would have accelerated my journey down the road to becoming a better team coach and to serving teams and team leaders more effectively.

Next week I’ll be releasing the 3rd and final article in this series on Team Coaching Resources along with a podcast.  That article and episode will be focusing on 5 team coach training programs that I’ve come across on The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.

Until then I’m going to curl up with a good book and see if I can ignite the imagination! Cheers!

Krister Lowe, MA, PhD, CPCC

Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist, a Leadership and Team Coach, and the Creator of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast and Website (www.TeamCoachingZone.com). He is a specialist in leadership and team coaching and has more than fifteen years of experience consulting to diverse organizations in more than 25 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. His coaching, consulting, facilitation and training interventions have reached more than 25,000 people globally. He is the Host of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast–a weekly interview show that explores the art and science of coaching teams in organizations–and that has a listenership in more than 95 countries around the world.

Team Coaching Resources (Part 1): Five Team Level Assessments

Team Coaching Resources (Part 1): Five Team Level Assessments

(Note: This post was originally published on August 23, 2016 on LinkedIn.  You can view it on LinkedIn here).

Since launching The Team Coaching Zone Podcast-an interview show that explores the art & science of coaching teams in organizations–back in January of 2015, I’ve interviewed some great pioneers, thought leaders and practitioners in the field.  The insights that I have gleaned from the interviews have transformed my approach to team coaching as well as my business. When listeners of the show reach out to me I’m often asked for recommendations on team coaching resources.  Specifically they revolve around three themes:

  • What team coaching assessments are available?
  • What are some of the main books on team coaching?
  • What team coach training programs should I consider exploring?

Recently a listener suggested that I pull together a consumer reports type episode or blog post series to review some of the resources that I’ve come across.  So voila here we go with the first in a 3-part blog post series on Team Coaching Resources!  I’ll also be recording podcast versions covering similar content so feel free to check those out at http://www.teamcoachingzone.com as well as on iTunesSoundCloudStitcher Radioand Google Play Music.

In this post that focuses on team coaching assessments I will:

  1. Briefly discuss some pros and cons of using assessments in team coaching engagements.
  2. Discuss using individual-level assessments in team coaching and list some of the assessments that I’ve come across on the podcast.
  3. Discuss using team-level assessments and highlight 5 team level assessments that I believe warrant a closer look by team coaches.
  4. Outline some alternatives to using assessments including do-it-yourself surveys (e.g. Survey Monkey or Google Forms), interviews, focus groups and observation.  I’ll also briefly discuss combining methods as well.

1) Pros and Cons of Using Assessments in Team Coaching


So why use an assessment in the first place? That’s a good question! An easy way to answer this is to think about using Google Maps, Apple Maps or in the old days MapQuest.  To get anywhere you have to input where you are starting from and where you are going.  Once those two coordinates have been identified a road map can be drawn identifying various routes to guide you to the destination.  A good team assessment in like manner can help you hone in on your current state and also help you map out the route to your destination.

However there is another important point which is about building motivation and readiness for change.   Dr. Richard Boyatzis, out of Case Western University, has outlined five dynamic phases or as he likes to call them discoveries that individuals, groups or larger systems must make when trying to create intentional sustainable change  (For more info check out Boyatzis, R.E. (2006) An overview of intentional change from a complexity perspective. Journal of Management Development, 25, 607-623).  Creating sustainable change requires 1) discovering the ideal self or desired future; 2) an assessment of the real self or current state; 3) a learning agenda; 4) experimentation and practice; and 5) resonant relationships that enable us to learn. The engine for change gets created by the gap or dynamic tension between the desired future and current states.

An assessment can help create the motivational tension that when harnessed can propel the team forward.  And while there are different ways of doing this (see section 4 below), assessments can be great approach to doing this efficiently.  In my experience coaching teams I’ve found a few general pros and cons using assessments that are summarized in the table below:


 2) Individual-Level Assessments

Given the historical focus in most organizations on individual level performance management, it’s not surprising that a plethora of individual-level assessments abound.  Well-known instruments like MBTI and DiSC often times show up in team building and team coaching engagements.  And while they can help teams form and create a more safe interpersonal climate, they have some limitations when applied at the group level.  One limitation or risk of using individual-level assessments with groups and teams is that a team is an entity unto itself with its own personality, history and dynamics.  It has been observed that coaching all the individual members of a leadership team doesn’t necessarily result in increased team performance (Source: Wageman, R., Nunes, D.A., Burruss, J.A., & Hackman, J.R. (2008). Senior Leadership Teams: What It Takes To Make Them Great). And that’s because a team is more than the sum of its parts.   Team dynamics cannot easily be captured by simply aggregating individual level measures and making interpretations based on such averages.

So the main point here is that while individual assessments may be supportive of a team coaching engagement and useful as part of the team formation stage as well as in peer coaching among team members, their diagnostic potential is limited. Before moving on to the next section which focuses on team-level assessments for team coaching, let’s pause for a moment to list some of the individual-level instruments (13 based on my review!) that haven been mentioned throughout the various episodes of the team coaching zone podcast:

3) Team-Level Assessments

In this section I’d like provide an overview of 5 team-level assessments that I’ve discovered through the podcast interviews that are particularly suited to team coaching. While there are many team assessments on the market, the five presented here are, in my view, particularly suited for team coaching.  The list is not intended to be exhaustive.  I’ve used a number of these instruments as a team coach myself and have also experienced one of them directly as an end user on a team.

A. The Team Diagnostic Survey


Developed by the late Dr. Richard Hackman and other scholar-practitioners at Harvard University including Dr. Ruth Wageman, the Team Diagnostic Survey is based on substantial research on real-world teams in a number of industries.  The research underlying the instrument found that approximately 50% of the variance in team effectiveness can be attributed to two sets of conditions (Essential and Enabling) each measured by three factors.  The three essential factors

The three enabling factors include: 4) Sound Structure – the team has a clear task design, the right size in terms of number and shared norms for how it will work together; 5) Organizational Support – the team receives the information, resources, education and recognition/rewards that it needs to succeed; and 6) Team Coaching – support and challenge by an external or internal team coach, a team leader and/or team members that is regularly available and that is helpful.

In addition to the Essential and Enabling conditions, the assessment captures three measures of team effectiveness: 1) task performance – the team’s main clients or users are satisfied with the quality, quantity and timeliness of the team’s work; 2) quality of the team’s process – team members work together in ways that enable them to increase their effectiveness over time vs. one-time performances; and 3) member satisfaction – the team’s dynamic facilitates rather than impedes the learning and growth of team members.

Furthermore there are some additional dimensions assessed including the team leader’s effectiveness; psychological safety, the team’s learning orientation and more.  To learn more about the Team Diagnostic survey you can check out:


B. Team Emotional Intelligence Survey


Based on 20 years of research by Dr. Vanessa Druskat and Dr. Steve Wolff that focuses on understanding what differentiates high performing teams from good performing teams, The Team Emotional Intelligence Survey assess 3 Team Fundamentals (1. Goals & Objectives, 2. Meeting Procedures, and 3. Roles & Responsibilities) that all good and high performing teams have in place. The assessment also captures 9 Team Emotional Intelligence Norms that point the way for a team to go from good to great.  The 9 norms are organized across three levels:

  • Individual Level – 1) Interpersonal Understanding, 2) Addressing Counterproductive Behavior, 3) Caring Behavior
  • Team Level – 4) Team Self-Evaluation; 5) Creating Emotion Resources; 6) Creating an Affirmative Environment; 7) Proactive Problem-Solving
  • Organizational Level – 8) Organizational Understanding; 9) Building External Relations

An additional interesting set of factors assessed in the instrument are 4 Elements of Team Social Capital that emerge when the Team Fundamentals and Team Ei Norms are established.  These include: 1) Safety, Trust & Risk Taking; 2) Team Identity; 3) Innovation; and 4) Creating Debate.

Finally the survey includes a section for verbatim responses that ask respondents to share what the team should Continue doing wellStop doing that isn’t working well; and Start doing that they aren’t doing as well as a final question involving what else they would like to share about the team’s functioning.

To learn more about The Team Emotional Intelligence Survey you can check out:


C. Team Diagnostic – Team Leaderview – Team 360 View – Organization View Suite of Assessments


Team Coaching International’s (TCI) Co-Founders Alexis Phillips and Phil Sandhal (Co-Author of Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives), created a suite of four diagnostic instruments specifically designed for team coaching.  Their research identified two sets of strengths that enable teams to take action and that build effective relationships to motivate and sustain that action.

  1. Productivity Strengths: 7 productivity strengths or sub-dimensions are identified that support the team in achieving results, accomplishing tasks, sand taying on course to reach goals and objectives. The seven include: Resources, Decision Making, Alignment, Accountability, Leadership, Goals & Strategies and Proactive.
  2. Positivity Strengths: 7 positivity strengths or sub-dimensions help the team with interrelationships between team members and the spirt of the team as a system.  The strengths build on research from the areas of Emotional Intelligence, Positive Psychology and academic research into relationships that work.  The seven include: Respect, Values Diversity, Camaraderie, Communication, Constructive Interaction, Optimism, Trust.

The two sets of Productivity and Positivity strengths form the basis of the four instruments TCI has specifically designed for team coaching.  The four instruments include:

  • Team Diagnostic: a team level online assessment completed by all team members on the two sets of strengths. The 40 page report that is generated contains a generous number of quad and spider diagrams, tables of the highest and lowest scoring items in each of the two ares, line graphs of the items where the most agreement and least agreement was reported and more.  The survey also includes open-ended questions which can be customized.  TCI reports a 20% increase on average in a team’s effectiveness on the Productivity and Positivity dimensions following use of the Team Diagnostic.
  • Team Leader View: A second instrument available is the Team Leader View. The diagnostic tool is based on the same model as the Team Diagnostic and consists of a team leader’s “view” of his/her own team on the Productivity and Positivity strengths.  The results can be layered onto the results of the Team Diagnostic profile to see where a leader’s view of the team aligns or not with that of the team.  The results outline areas of strength as well as areas for improvement for both the team as well as the team leader.
  • Team 360 View: A third instrument, the Team 360 View, is an external assessment conducted by stakeholder’s of the team. Stakeholder’s assess the team on the Productivity and Positivity competencies.
  • Organization View: A fourth instrument in the suite, the Organization View, assesses the health of the organization’s culture (Positivity) as well as the capability of the organization to be productive (Productivity).  The instrument can be used with a division, a large department, an entire organization or a representative sample of the company.  The final report can also be segmented to show overall results as well as subsets (e.g. IT, finance, manufacturing, etc…)

To learn more about TCI’s methodology and instruments you can check out:


D. Team Connect 360


Based on the pioneering work of Peter Hawkins, PhD on the 5 disciplines of high performing teams, the Academy of Executive Coaching (AoEC) and Renewal Associates partnered to develop the Team Connect 360.  The instrument, available to team coaches who have been trained in Systemic Team Coaching, provides a holistic view of the team’s internal dynamics as well as its external relationships with stakeholders.

The instrument collects data on the 5 disciplines of high performing teams from 4 sets of raters: Team Members, Primary Stakeholder (i.e. who the team reports to), Direct Reports of the Team, and Other Stakeholders. The five disciplines framework provides a balanced look at the team on both task as well as process dimensions as well as outside and inside views of the team.  The five disciplines include:

  1. Stakeholder Expectations – focuses on looking externally from a task perspective on what the team is being called to achieve.
  2. Team Tasks – focuses on looking internally within the team from a task perspective on the specific areas the team will focus on to achieve its purpose.
  3. Team Relationships – focuses on looking internally within the team from a process perspective on how the team will co-create its way of working together to achieve its Team Tasks and Stakeholder Expectations.
  4. Stakeholder Relationships – focuses on looking externally from a process perspective on which stakeholders need to be engaged for the team to successfully deliver on its purpose.
  5. Team Learning – focuses on how well the team is capturing the learning for the benefit of the organization, as well as how it nurtures and encourages the learning and development of each team member.

The assessment includes both quantitative ratings as well as qualitative open-ended comments sections for raters to provide feedback on each of the 5 disciplines.  Summary views, detailed breakdowns within each of the 5 areas as well as overall performance summaries on a number of team success criteria are provided.

To learn more about the 5 Disciplines, Systemic Team Coaching, and the Team Connect 360 you can check out:


5) Polarity Map


Based on the pioneering work of Dr. Barry Johnson on Polarity Management: Identifying and Managing Unsolvable ProblemsPolarity Partnerships developed the Polarity Approach to Continuity and Transformation (PACT), the Polarity Map and the Polarity Assessment.  The approach helps leaders, teams and organizations to utilize problem solving as well as “both/and” thinking to address strategic opportunities and challenges.  All leaders, teams and organizations face polarities (also known as paradox, wicked problems, chronic tensions, dilemmas, contradictions, dualities and dichotomies) that by nature are “unsolvable.” While fundamentally unsolvable, the energy contained in these systems of interdependent pairs can be harnessed to drive learning and change.

A few years ago I was fortunate to experience the Polarity Map as as an end user while working as part of a small management consulting team.  The assessment and process helped us to quickly identify the unique polarities that were alive in our team and that had yet to be harnessed to propel us to the next level of effectiveness.

The PACT process unfolds in 5 steps:

  1. Seeing: identifying the polarities a team is facing.
  2. Mapping: mapping out the polarities on a polarity map.
  3. Assessing: assessing through an online instrument how well or poorly your team is leveraging the polarity.
  4. Learning: making meaning out your assessment results.
  5. Leveraging: leveraging your insights to commit to developing actions and tactical strategies to achieve success as well as to identify and monitor early warnings that require course correction.

To learn more about this approach you can check out:


4) Alternatives to Using Assessments

Let’s close out this post by suggesting some alternatives to using assessments as well as combining assessments with other forms of data collection. Collecting needs assessment data and feeding that data back to team can be accomplished through variety of additional methods including:

  • Do-it-Yourself Surveys: prior to getting trained and certified in a number of the instruments mentioned in this post, I relied heavily on Survey Monkey and Google Forms to create customized quantitative and qualitative surveys prior to team coaching engagements.  An easy yet effective method I found was to collect SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats) data through a series of open-ended questions and then to add some quantitative rating scales on a number of team effectiveness dimensions identified from research articles on team performance.  I still use Survey Monkey surveys to this day and find that the graphs and tables they generate can easily be adapted to create PowerPoint decks for feedback sessions with clients.  The downside to me of this approach is simply the time involved. As my practice has grown, my time has become more limited and so I am more willing to pay to have this work done for me through a validated assessment than building out a custom survey.
  • Interviews: in many ways conducting 20 to 30 minutes interviews with members of a team as well its stakeholders is unbeatable.  In addition to collecting data it has the advantage of helping you build a relationship with each member of the team. It’s an opportunity to build trust with team members in a way that an online assessment simply can’t.  You also gain lots of nuance into how the dynamics in the team are playing out.  Online assessments tend to be more impersonal and lack the ability to capture these nuances. While costly in terms of time, interviews begin the process of building readiness for change.  Tip:  when creating an interview protocol, first identify a team effectiveness model from which you can then formulate a few questions that drive a semi-structured interview.  In other words, have some structure to your questions but then follow the energy and get curious when something sounds interesting or warranting of deeper exploration.  After conducting the interviews you can then organize the data across all of your interviewees according to the model which will help when feeding the data back.
  • Focus Groups: get groups of 6 to 10 people either face-to-face or online via a webinar platform (e.g Adobe Connect, WebEx, Zoom, Go-To-Meeting, etc…) to conduct a group interview.  One creative approach a colleague and I developed a few years ago when working with a larger team, was to have focus group members begin the session by first interviewing each other on their experience of the team guided by a few key questions (e.g. what are 1 or 2 main strengths of our team and what are 1 or 2 things that are really holding us back).  After each person is interviewed (usually about 7 minutes per person) the full group then can share findings and begin a larger group dialogue about the current state of the team and where they would like to go in the future.  This approach has the benefit of starting in a safe and more personal way (i.e. via the interviews) and then moving up to a rich group dialogue.  An advantage of focus groups is that you can engage a large number of people in the process in less time than via conducting one-to-one interviews but you still can capture the nuance.  Also you enroll participants in a more dynamic way in getting the change process started and generating their motivation and buy-in.
  • Observation: a final and largely underutilized method is observation.  Sitting in on team meetings is guaranteed to reveal a wealth of data about the team’s dynamics, strengths and areas for improvement.  One team that I work with conducts an annual one day retreat. They invite me to come and observe the first half day of the session and then to spend the afternoon sharing my observations, facilitating a dialogue about the findings as well as engaging in team coaching on a specific area for improvement.  The advantage of this approach is that the needs assessment happens in real time and the coaching follows in quick succession.

In summary, there are a number of alternatives to using assessments all of which have advantages and disadvantages.  They also can be combined together including with an online assessment.  The “triangulation” of data that occurs can lead to greater confidence in the findings when patterns across the different sets of data corroborate each other.  I like to combine interviews with an online assessment so that I get the best of both worlds (i.e. building a relationship with each team member and capturing the nuances while also have the concrete data and tables that are fit to a team effectiveness model).

So in closing, as the field of team coaching evolves it can be helpful for us as team coaches to explore both best practices for conducting team needs assessments as well as the various methodologies and technologies available for doing so.  In this post we explored the pros and cons of using assessments, briefly discussed the strengths and limitations of using individual-level assessments in team coaching, explored 5 online team-level assessments for team coaching and also explored some alternatives to using assessments.  I hope you found this post informative and stimulates your thinking about how you are approaching your work with teams.

I welcome your comments and feedback as well as any insights you have gleaned from your practice using assessments as part of team coaching engagements.

To further your learning, checkout http://www.teamcoachingzone.com for a range of free content and be sure to subscribe to The Team Coaching Zone Newsletter to stay up to date on the latest podcast episodes, blog posts, webinars and events going on at The Team Coaching Zone as well as to gain information and discounts on upcoming team coaching training events.

Have a great day!

Krister Lowe, MA, PhD, CPCC

Dr. Krister Lowe is an Organizational Psychologist, a Leadership and Team Coach, and the Creator of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast and Website (www.TeamCoachingZone.com). He is a specialist in leadership and team coaching and has more than fifteen years of experience consulting to diverse organizations in more than 25 countries throughout Europe, Asia, Africa, the Middle East, and the Americas. His coaching, consulting, facilitation and training interventions have reached more than 25,000 people globally. He is the Host of The Team Coaching Zone podcast–a weekly interview show that explores the art and science of coaching teams in organizations–and that has a listenership in more than 95 countries around the world.

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