In the last 7 years I have been fascinated by Eastern Philosophy. After going through two major wake up calls in life, I embarked on the journey within, which is such a JOY-ney. 

I was intuitively seeking for something that can get to the roots of sustainable transformation and only a holistic approach could tackle my questions about life, meaning and joyful and purposeful existence. Thus, I chose to specialise coaching at the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC) and team coaching at the Team Coaching Studio (TCS). I knew deep within that these schools can give me such a good start into a profession that brought me back to my essence and my natural talent. Why? Because they offered systemic and holistic approach to intrapersonal and interpersonal human transformation.

We all know as coaches, that in order to serve clients and inspire transformation, we need to walk that journey of inner transformation and professional development constantly. If on that journey, I believe, we can have a palpable impact. 

The thoughts that inspired me to write this article are from the renowned Dr. Siegel, a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at the UCLA School of Medicine and the founding co-director of the Mindful Awareness Research. These come from his just released new book IntraConnected: MW (Me + We). 

“Humanity is in a perpetual trap in which we seek to change one another or society based on our own belief systems. Because we have not made our inner world conscious, we continue to seek change in the external world of forms, as if the inner world were a construct of the outer.” 

I trust that the sustainable change we are seeking for, needs to start from within. And then we can connect on a different level and work united to co-create and collaborate for the good of society and the planet.

In the last 8 years I have been blessed to see numerous human transformations in my one-on-one coaching work. At some point in my professional and purpose led journey, I felt that I want to have more impact and noticed that the most challenges occur in the way we relate to each other. Thus, it made sense to me to focus my energy on working with teams. Which I did! Since 2018 I have been facilitating workshops and met hundreds of people who were inspired and hopefully did some steps to transformation, which were sustainable. Did this team work lead to lasting transformation? Were these real teams or groups? How sustainable and impactful was the work we did? 

Only in 2021 I could find the answers of the questions I have been asking myself and these came as a result of my Team Coaching certification. I noticed two things are happening in the professional field of team development. There is misunderstanding what team coaching really is and the focus is mainly on team facilitation (delivered within workshops) and partially teaching. Each of these approaches has its place, however systemic collective human transformation happens when the interpersonal transformational work is done willingly (all team members consciously choose to do it), with wholehearted commitment, over a long period of time and within the presence of a skillful team coach, who can create the environment of psychological safety and enable the knowing to emerge from within the team as a dynamic whole.

What is the difference between team coaching and facilitation?

Woudstra (2018) suggests a definition of team coaching based on the ICF definition as: 

“Partnering with the team and it’s dynamics, relationships and wider context to maximize the synergy of their collective abilities and potential, to achieve their common purpose or shared goals.” 

I will share with you as well my own definition of team coaching, which is: partnering with the team as a dynamic interconnected whole, with the purpose to generate awareness and energy so that they connect and collaborate to serve a compelling and meaningful purpose.

Team facilitation is focused on managing the process of a meeting freeing up the team to focus on the task.

There are two major differences here. In team coaching we are partnering with the team as a dynamic interconnected whole. In facilitation we manage the process. Both approaches are dialogic, but coaching is emergent, where facilitation is structured. In team coaching  everything emerges in the here and now and is not scripted.

Why do I believe that team coaching is more sustainable?

  • Because it stimulates the team to think for themselves and inspires them to do their own work, it evokes awareness and collective action with shared accountability.
  • Because the agenda is in the team’s hands. They choose what is relevant to them now and in the here and now this process of co-creation takes place.
  • Because they feel empowered and interdependent through going on this journey together
  • Because through noticing and learning about the differences in each other they could use them as  a resource (collective capability) they can tackle major challenges only if this is to serve a compelling and meaningful purpose, which they have co-created and feel aligned with.

Jason Gregory (2018), who is one of my favorite authors and has deep knowledge of eastern philosophy, shared in his book “Effortless Living: Wu-Wei and the Spontaneous State of Natural Harmony”:

“If we interfere unnecessarily with any organism on this planet, we hinder its growth through our attempt to control it. When it is interfered with, an organism finds itself in a struggle to grow into everything it should be. As a result, the organism’s natural impulse to grow is met with resistance by another organism, which assumes that it is superior to all life and needs other, organisms to survive. We could say that human beings fit perfectly in this category because of the personal agendas we wish to cast upon the world.”

What a humbling thought, which reminds me about the power of coaching. With trust and love let us be enablers of environments where humans interconnected into a dynamic whole (teams) and focused on a shared meaningful purpose, can find their own solutions to tackle the challenges we face today for a better future where we all thrive.