Malcolm Forbes once said that diversity was the art of thinking independently together. One of our founding principles is that diversity brings richness and infinite possibilities, however, we must first learn to navigate and master the territory and the collective energy of a group of personalities in a team.
As systemic team coaches we recognise that it is not so much about coaching individuals and groups that make up the organisation rather it is about extending the conversation to explore the spaces in between the teams. The biggest challenge all organisations face is in the connections between the various parts, levels and divisions of the business itself – for example between the exec and the non exec. Our underlying supposition is that behind the team’s assets there is an unlimited potential that can be unearthed for transformational results.
“Systemic Team Coaching is 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 both improve 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.” (Hawkins, 2011)
Working in this way requires a paradigm shift as the majority of the coaching world typically hones in on individual one to one coaching or team coaching that has far more to do with team-building and the development of the individual members working together.
Focusing on the executive team collective entity we support them with their evolutionary purpose, core values, performance and processes and explore the extent to which they embody the ethos of the team when they are not working together but are out working in other parts of the organisation or with stakeholders. How big is their impact then?
“Leadership is both deeply personal and inherently collective. At its essence it concerns the capacity of a human community to shape its destiny and, in particular, to bring forth new realities in line with people’s deepest aspirations.” (Society for Organisational Learning, 1993)
We are interested in the collective voice of the team. We bust the myth that achievement relies on a Great Man or Great Woman. As exposed by Bennis back in 1997.
“Our mythology refuses to catch up with us. And so we cling to the myth of the Lone Ranger, the romantic idea that great things are usually accomplished by a larger-than-life individual working alone. Despite evidence to the contrary – including the fact that Michelangelo worked with a group of 16 to paint the Sistine Chapel”
Going forwards due to the complexity of the world we work in there is going to be greater demand for systems coaches that focus on systemic ways of being and support leaders to become team coaches for their own teams. Teams are nested systems within bigger systems and so the key is to see teams as living systems and we inspire our clients to see that whatever emerges is always greater than what we think we know. We also help teams realise that absolute trust between human beings is an unrealisable goal, particularly in work teams. For us a more useful goal is the team trusting each other enough to disclose their mistrust.
We also show leaders and their teams how to listen so that they can experience a sense of collective identity through their bodies and enable teams to recognise that too much or too little conflict is unhelpful in a team. Great teams need to learn how to creatively work through the conflicting needs in their wider system. We are well placed to do this because we have had to use similar skills to co-create Transformational Leaders Ltd. We enable teams to sense what the world of tomorrow needs us to do today. Our approach is grounded in supervision for our coaches so that we do not recreate the “heroic team coach.”
“Enabling a team to function at more than the sum of its parts, by clarifying its mission and improving its external and internal relationships. It is different therefore from coaching team leaders on how to lead their teams, or coaching individuals in a group setting.” (Hawkins and Smith, 2006)
Out of this world….I walked in not knowing what to expect whilst knowing what I wanted to achieve, I went to a place of “dreamland” that I knew existed but didn’t know how it worked.