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Jean S. Frankel, Founder and Principal at Ideas for Action LLC.

#005: Developing Leadership Cultures Through Team Coaching

Join Dr. Krister Lowe and this week’s leading organizational team coach, Jean Frankel, on the The Team Coaching Zone Podcast.  In the episode, Jean shares stories coaching leadership teams–specifically with the boards of professional associations and larger universities.  Jean S. Frankel is an internationally known and respected management consultant, educator, facilitator and executive coach. As a founder and principal of Ideas for Action, LLC, Frankel has designed and facilitated strategic planning, governance redesign, organizational assessment, and leadership development activities for a wide variety of organizations.  She is certified coach through Columbia University’s Coaching Certification Program and is also the author of three books.


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Learn more about Jean at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ideasforactionllc


  1. Frankel, J.S. & Eckert, G. (2012). From Insight to Action: Six New Ways to Think, Lead, and Achieve.
  2. Tecker, G.H., Frankel, J.S., & Meyer, P.D. (2002). The Will to Govern Well: Knowledge, Trust & Nimbleness.
  3. Katzenbach, J.R. & Smith, D.K. (2006). The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the High Performance Organization.
  4. Tuckman’s stages of group development: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tuckman’s_stages_of_group_development
  5. Total Quality Management: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Total_quality_management.
  6. Edwards Demming: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/W._Edwards_Deming
  7. NBI Thinking Preferences: NBICertification.com
  8. Hogan Assessments: http://www.hoganassessments.com
  9. Hackman, J.R. (2002). Leading Teams: Setting the Stage for Great Performances.
  10. Jennifer Britton: http://www.groupcoachingessentials.com/pages/home


PART 1 – GETTING TO KNOW THE TEAM COACH: Jean Frankel, Ideas for Action, LLC.

  • Jean S. Frankel is an internationally known and respected management consultant, educator, facilitator and executive coach. As a founder and principal of Ideas for Action, LLC, Frankel has designed and facilitated strategic planning, governance redesign, organizational assessment, and leadership development activities for a wide variety of organizations. Her consulting experience includes work with organizations in a variety of business sectors, including professional and trade associations, academic institutions, community-based economic development organizations, and philanthropic and fraternal groups of all types and sizes.
  • Author of 3 books.
  • How she got into coaching: had a past doing a lot of work with groups.   Helping groups with strategic planning and structure. Became aware of coaching 10 years ago when the ICF (International Coaching Federation) became one of her clients. After working with them for 1.5 years and their global leaders she became interested in coaching. Their global board had 16 people and 11 came from different cultures which made for a dynamic team. Coaching at the individual and team levels really got her excited.
  • Now executive coaching is a large part of her practice.
  • How she got into team coaching: Became certified in coaching at the Columbia University Coaching Certification Program and started integrating coaching into her consulting practice. Coach training impacted the way she was working with groups: listening, focusing each of them as individuals and then as a whole. Coaching teams in the context of governance has become an area of specialization. Such boards tend to be very diverse and time limited and their life cycle is very fast.  She also works with leadership teams in higher education and corporate settings.
  • Sources of influence: The Wisdom of Teams by Katzenbach & Smith with the evolution from a working group, to a pseudo team, to a potential team, to a real team to a high performing team, and Tuckman’s stages of team development (Forming – Storming – Norming – Performing) has been helpful in thinking about the life cycle of teams. Lot of work in the 1980’s in Total Quality Management where there was a big focus on teams and team norms, work of Demming.
  • Team coaching in an exciting and new place. Most formal coach training programs focus more on the transformational experiences on working with individuals.
  • Facilitation skills and group process skills combined with the individual coach training has really informed her approach. Still learning and being exposed to people who do this work.


  • Hits – Two Team Coaching Success Stories:
    • Story #1: Board of 7 people, smaller teams can sometimes be more challenging as individual personalities can really have a large impact. Managing individuals collectively into a team can be challenging.
    • Was a board governing a profession. The leader was a professional in the profession.
    • Group was a tight knit group of professionals but never had worked together as a team and some had been never been on a board. Further the profession they were a part of focused a lot on serving individuals and so didn’t have a lot of expertise in working with groups or teams.
    • They wanted a team coach and to work with them over the course of a year.
    • Impetus: beginning of board year, some new team members, needed to help the board form and grow. Role was to facilitate a growth process.
    • The facilitation elements in team coaching are important. Need to facilitate client discovery of growth and development.
    • Work of the team was governing the association (education programs, policy development, establishment of standards)
    • Team coaching is best done in the context of the team’s real work rather than in a vacuum. For example how their communication skills impacted real work challenges or tasks.
    • Not just development for its own sake.
    • Process:
      • Built a knowledge base starting with telephone interviews. Identified their individual strengths and areas for development as leaders
      • Had them take the NBI Thinking Preferences Assessment to understand individually and collectively their preferences
      • Three Day Retreat: had a low preference as a leadership team for communication and this was a important because they needed to lead 15,000 people. Explored individual strengths and weaknesses in order to understand each person’s role. Establishment of group norms, code of conduct, identification of areas they needed to work on in terms of growth and development. Second day the group faced a tough decision which they made in an intuitive way. Was like a sports team where everyone was in flow and had really come together. Was a result of the first day which helped them focus on each other and really listen to each other. Deep listening. They were at Level 3 listening. All coming from the same profession brought a similar value set which was important. Commonality of culture of their profession (some unspoken values).
      • Hackman’s work, Katzenbach and Smith, TQM work informed this phase.
      • Jean has written 3 books: One is the “Will to Govern Well” which focuses on leadership and the importance of group norms.
      • Learning (Day 1), Doing (Day 2), Reflection (Day 3)
      • Teams need a formal development plan as a group. That became a focus on the third day.
      • Really important that there is a real concrete outcome to the coaching and not just learning and generating good feelings.
    • Group only meets 4 times per year in person. Monthly conference calls in person. Jean attended each call and helped link back to norms and what they had agreed to during the retreat. Was a lot of virtual team coaching.
    • Essential for a team to have face-to-face interaction in the beginning and then working virtually is okay. Adobe Connect, GoToMeeting, Skype technology platforms has helped a lot to bring more feelings of face to face.
    • Need to keep the momentum rolling. Finding ways to sustain the team’s work and sustaining momentum was essential.
    • Part of her role was to model good group process. Modeling facilitation. She shifted her role from a lot of facilitation early on to shifting to facilitating more reflection later as the group became more capable.
    • Not just the team leader’s role to manage the functioning of the group. All became collectively responsible for keeping the group accountable to itself.
    • At the end, they institutionalized a formal evaluation process of the team’s behaviors, actions, competencies in order to measure it’s success. Spent a half day face-to-face to evaluate themselves as a team.
    • In year two the cycle started over. 3 new Board members elected, 3 members replaced. Integrating new team members became the focus.
    • Key Takeaways/Lessons Learned:
      • Clarity: team coaching can get fuzzy unless we are clear about “what will you do differently as a result of our coaching.”
      • The team coach can’t do the work of the team. The team needs to take accountability for its work.
      • Real sense of integrating the work of the coaching into the real work of the organization.
    • Story #2: Another success story was working with a University leadership team where was doing both individual one-to-one coaching as well a team coaching. 14 Vice Presidents. Team wasn’t sure what it’s purpose or work was.
    • President has an open management style. Wanted the team to clarify its contribution to the university and asked how as a team they could accomplish this. He laid out a competency model of how they could be effective leaders within their respective areas of responsibility but also working as a cross-functional team.
    • “T” shaped team. Being able to work across boundaries.
    • Working with about 10 VP’s individually and then with the leadership team as a whole.
    • During recent retreat their progress seemed quite remarkable. Was a result of the one-to-one coaching but also having clarity on their “common work” as a group.
    • The one-to-one coaching has a number of consistent elements (e.g. NBI, Hogan) and are beginning to identify the “T” shaped competencies that are necessary for effectiveness.
    • The individual coaching has really informed and contributed to the team’s work.
    • Keeping confidentiality a challenge.
    • Conversation with Richard Kilberg at a coaching conference at Harvard about being embedded in the organization. Challenging multiple roles (e.g. working on behalf of the leader, working with each respective team member, working with the team as a whole, etc…).
    • Importance of role clarity and defining the roles you as a team coach will be playing (e.g. facilitator, consultant, educator, coach, etc…). Making explicit what the role of the team coach is.
    • Spends 3 to 4 days per month at the university working on this engagement.
    • Key Takeaways/Lessons Learned:
      • Group is learning a collective language around leadership.
      • Developing a culture of leadership through team coaching.
      • A number of VP’s now want to take this into their individual organizations; team coaching is cascading.
      • Team coaching can really impact the organization’s culture.
  • Miss – Team Coaching Challenge Story:
    • Eye opener dynamic
    • Coaching at a senior level is a whole different animal. Not too much written about coaching at a senior level.
    • How do engage with big egos and with a big public role.
    • Worked with a leadership team of a membership organization. Worked on Board orientation and group norms.
    • Also was working on one-to-one coaching with the CEO. Coaching was under the radar.   Was both a team coach as well as a one-to-one coach.
    • Believes that as a coach you have to model behaviors. There is a danger in doing the leader’s work for him/her. She began to step into a leadership role herself. The team members were saying “Who is running the show here?”
    • Leader wasn’t modeling behaviors and then Jean ended up filling the vacuum. She became concerned when some were commenting on how much leadership she was providing.
    • Can be a tough balancing act.
    • Leader made a comment that he didn’t need to learn something so long as Jean could show it.
    • Couple of rules she follows: don’t get involved in the politics; avoid getting into the “doing” role; objectivity – when you are in embedded assignments over time with a client, one of the values you bring is being an objective third party and that you have to manage the pull of being brought too close into the system.
    • The important role that supervision can play to help manage the forces of working in the system. Co-team coaching can really help as well.
    • Key Takeaways/Lessons Learned:
      • There was a lot of pressure in the assignment given the public nature of the leader’s role. Being able to keep emotional distance to maintain objectivity.
      • Getting so involved in the importance of the work that you can lose sight of who is doing the work.
      • Keep on the look out for the little signs that give warnings.
      • Being clear on your roles.
      • When you see someone not acting it can be hard to restrain yourself from jumping in to the do the work.

Part Three – Parting Advice & Resources

  • Something that has Jean currently excited: The current University engagement she is working with and the integration of the individual and team coaching has been really exciting. Universities can have big reach, $3 Billion, 50,000 students and can have a huge impact.
  • Coaches need to get good coach training and finding some training in facilitation skills and getting up in front of groups. Supplement coach training with facilitation, group process training.
  • Jennifer Britton does group coaching training.
  • Jean’s books: “From Insight to Action: 6 New Ways to Think, Lead and Achieve.” The competencies are very focused on helping individuals and teams become more effective.

How to Contact Jean Frankel

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