Episode #066: Yehudi Meshchaninov: Insights from a Millennial Team Coach


What can the millennial generation of team coaches teach us about teams, teaming and team coaching? Tune in to this week’s episode of The Team Coaching Zone Podcast to find out! In this episode host Dr. Krister Lowe explores this topic with Yehudi Meshchaninov–a millennial team coach and the Founder of Leadership Labs NYC.

In the episode Yehudi shares his journey to team coaching beginning as a Rabbinical student where he was interested in exploring spiritual traditions; to discovering positive psychology and pursuing a master’s degree; to working in education reform in New York City schools; to starting Leadership Labs NYC where he has been consulting to tech startups, boutique consulting firms and small businesses as a team coach; to pursuing an interdisciplinary doctorate at Columbia University in Adult Learning, Leadership and Organizational Psychology.

Some themes explored in this episode include: the role of learning in an age of constant change; Millennial values and how they are pushing a desire to bring the whole person to work; rapid iteration, sub-optimizing and learning in context; the role of spirituality in work; influences on Yehudi’s approach to team coaching including structuralism (organizational psychology) developmentalism (adult learning and leadership); using video feedback in coaching and more. Yehudi also shares four stories coaching teams that reveal some powerful lessons learned and practical tips for team coaches.

This is a fun, inspiring and thought-provoking episode that you are not going to want to miss! Tune into today and get ready to take your team coaching practice to the next level!

Listen Now



Part 1 – Getting to Know the Team Coach: Yehudi Meshchaninov

About Yehudi Meshchaninov

  • Team Coach
  • Founder of Leadership Labs NY—a leadership consulting practice that collaborative cultures that enable agility, innovation and continual learning
  • Focus on entrepreneurial startups, boutique consulting firms and small businesses
  • An executive coach at Columbia Business School, and AMA Certified MBTI Coach, Hofstra Law school Transformative Mediation Program, TalkSense Trainer, Lecturer at Yeshiva University
  • First career in education
  • Holds a Master of Arts & currently pursuing an interdisciplinary doctorate at Columbia University
  • Proud Millennial, Brooklynite and improv fan
  • Theme about constant change and learning has really taken off
  • Blending across generations: Boomers, Xers, Millennials

Journey to Team Coaching

  • Went to Rabbinical school—studying spiritual conditions
  • Took an interest in positive psychology—went to Columbia to do a Masters in Psychology
  • Started working on a large change project in New York City Schools—partnership with Harvard University
  • Met Barry Jentz, went back to Columbia to start a PhD, started his own company
  • Leadership Labs NY, LLC.—clients tend to Millennials
  • Began doing informal team coaching with teacher teams: something about the power of working with groups; liked the idea of doing deeper work with coaching that facilitation wasn’t tending to offer
  • How to support people over time to facilitate developmental shifts
  • Adult learning + organizational psychology
  • Team coaching blends a number of labels and methods
  • Notion of that you can really prepare for the future, its coming to fast; focus on learning skills – how are we learning as team coaches?
  • 1 in 3 workers in the US workforce are Millennials – bringing a focus on constant change
  • What is the middle ground between top down decision making and bottom up bean bag chair chaos
  • Millenials – embracing learning through doing model
  • Value of learning in context: Millenials seeking feedback and wanting leaders and managers to be more like coaches
  • Rapid iteration: ship it
  • Begin agile vs. efficient
  • Trying 1 or 2 new things in engagement that you have never done before
  • Spirituality: wanting to bring your whole self to work; values driven decision-making; meaningful work; TED talk by Alain deBaton; Question is not “is it true” but rather “is it useful.” What are our spiritual aspirational goals as human beings?

Part 2 – Approach to Team Coaching & Stories

Approach to Team Coaching

  • Influences:
    • Structuralists (Hackman, Wageman, Katzenbach & Smith, etc…)
    • Hawkins’ work on co-creation
    • Facilitation and Adult Learning: Steven Brookfield (50 great ways to get people talking); Liberating Structures (micro-structures)
  • Adult Learning:
    • Pragmatic: techniques and tools (e.g. Brookfield); what does it take for people to be open to learning (i.e. safe space, Boyatzis)
    • Developmental: mindset expansion; work we are asking clients to do is complex and requires being open to multiple perspectives; Kegan, Torbert, etc…
    • Single, Double and Triple Loop Learning (Argyris)
  • Learning Teams
  • Discrepancies: (Schon, Argyris) espoused values vs. what we actually do; shows up a lot among the Millenials (e.g. high aspirations yet hard to live up to)
  • DeBono thinking hats

Story #1 – Marketing Company

  • Teams are often created in the image of their leader (big picture, visionary, high on aspiration but not effective on details)
  • Shadow coaching with the leader: observed leader with a team member and called the team member back in; found that the member and leader were not at all on the same page
  • How to bring big picture excitement down to details

Story #2 – Marketing Company

  • Creating a video for a celebrity
  • Week deadline
  • Lack of clarity on roles and how much the leader would micromanage
  • RACI – matrix, plot out what needs to get done; sticky notes “what are all the things that need to get done to be successful” and plot them on the matrix: R-esponsible, A-ccountable, C- onsulted, I-nformed; helped surface assumptions that were under the surface

Story #3 – Tech Company

  • How decisions were being made
  • A latent sense that the leader was more intuitive than concrete
  • Did a deep dive on what a decision-making process could look like in the future: they put on the table some things that had happen in the past; on the 2nd day when Yehudi wasn’t there they continued the conversation—trusting that the team has collective intelligence
  • Focus on learning and development through real work

Story #4 – Tech Company that was Expanding

  • Leadership team thought the team needed to step up their game but they found via the team coaching that the leaders needed to step it up
  • Realization: “It all trickles down from us.”
  • Project morphed and changed a few times
  • Contracting as a ongoing process vs. a one time event
  • Focus became the leadership team: meeting every two weeks for 2 hours

Video Feedback in Coaching

  • Video being pushed in Millennial generation: convergence around technology and learner mindset
  • Barry Jentz’s influence on Yehudi
  • Video widely used in many areas but not so much in coaching
  • Vulnerability: putting oneself on tape
  • Story of leadership development using video feedback: really helps you identify blind spots (seeing it is super powerful)
  • Doing a fishbowl with two people in the middle on video tape that were struggling with communication – done in front of the whole team
  • Power of video: helps you step out and reflect; identify subconscious things that are getting in the way
  • Mezirow’s idea of “disorienting dilemma” – challenging ourselves to confront our mindsets
  • Empty chair technique – what would the organization say if it was sitting here

Part 3 – Parting Advice/Resources/Contacting Yehudi

  • Podcast with Barry Jentz
  • Recommended Resources:
    • Rethinking Organizations
    • Freedom Inc.
  • Video Feedback Course
    • An online course to help coaches learn how to use video feedback in individual as well as team coaching
    • A module based course that teaches a systematic step-by-step approach to using video feedback
    • Barrier to entry is low with using iphones, tablets, laptops, Skype calls, etc…
    • Not needing to be prepared
    • http://www.teamcoachingzone.com/videofeedbackcoaching/
  • Contacting Yehudi: http://leadershiplabsny.com

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