According to International Coaching Federation research, team coaching is currently the fastest growing area within coaching as a whole. 70% of leading organisations say they intend to invest in team coaching over the next two years and at all levels.
Dr. Peter Hawkins, professor of leadership at Henley Business School, writes that organisations need systemic team coaching to support teams with what he describes as the ‘unholy trinity of challenges’ that companies now face. These are: increasing demands from stakeholders as a whole, greater expectations of quality and the diminishing availability of resources. He more recently writes about how thinking systemically can support conversations that leaders may not be thinking that coaches can handle for example: sustainability and climate change, neurodiversity in teams, diversity and inclusion and team wellbeing.
Teams need coaches to be their ‘thinking partner’ in the same way as a 1-1 coach. They need space and time to co-create a plan of change through discovery of their collective self-awareness and they need connection and conversation to take responsibility for that change.
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What types of ‘one to many’ coaching formats are there and what makes a great team coach?
“Grounded in our core coaching competencies, group coaching brings the coaching conversation into a small group context. It is an intimate conversation space, focused on goal setting, deepening awareness around key issues, taking action, and accountability.” Jennifer Britton
For some sessions the agenda is not set and the group coaching is free-flow allowing the group to meet its collective needs through individuals and there mindful participation and learning style preferences. For some contracts the topic can be set up in advance to which the coach attends and facilitates the discussion and group dynamics. We are careful to contract for what we bring to the session by way of content as it is important for the coach to not be seen as the expert in the thinking and for the group to benefit from the collective wisdom in the room.
“Develop a climate of psychological safety, conducive to collective learning. Team members learn to have open dialogue, to share concerns and fears and to work with constructive, empathetic challenge. As a result they build deeper levels of trust and higher quality of collaboration.” Prof David Clutterbuck
Team coaching brings more of a group learning edge to a group defined as a working team and might involve discussion around agenda setting and content sharing if this is conducive to moving the team to expand their awareness and think differently. Team and leadership models are most commonly shared around which coaching questions are asked of the team. The coaching encourages the team to self-coach change for themselves as a whole as well as individuals. The benefits of the collaboration result in improvements to team performance.
Systemic Team Coaching
“Systemic Coaching integrates individual and team coaching approaches into a larger holistic systemic approach, aligning needs of individuals and their teams with organisation goals and key results and can extend to the ecosystems in which the work sits”. Dr. Peter Hawkins
Systemic team coaching shines a light on the team and its connections inside and outside of the team and its connection to its purpose, the future of the organisation and potentially beyond the organisation. The coaching involves thinking differently at new levels and the coach must work to listen and provide support for the team practically, intuitively and in partnership with the team over a longer period of time.