I’ve had lots of conversations in the last few months with leaders, who were interested in team coaching… I could see the curiosity in their eyes. At the same time, I could detect a subtle energy of uncertainty and a sense of puzzlement around ‘the how’. ‘The how’, as in “What is the structure of a team coaching program?”Well, in fact, there is no structure… there isn’t a topic A, followed by B, followed by C where real teamcoaching occurs. That’s what we as team coaches love about it: the complexity, the uncertainty and, indeed, the messiness it brings and through all these experiences, the power to sustainably transform teams to thrive.
I am so passionate about, and have previously written about, the power of team coaching. What I wish to share today is how we create change in the ‘here and now’ through using team coaching.
Change happens in the present moment. It doesn’t happen in the past, nor does it happen in the future. It is NOW. However, the past and the future do affect team energy in the here and now. A team is a dynamic interdependent whole, one dynamic system with its own unique patterns of co-relating.
To begin with we, as team coaches, need awareness – of the team and their patterns and of ourselves as team coaches, as we are creating the conditions for team transformation, in context (future – what the team aspires to, what is their vision, what purpose drives them and ignites energy; past – what has the team experienced, what worked well for them and why, what didn’t work so well, and now – the current context for the team – what is the complex environment within which the team operates and how is it inviting them to grow, adapt, co-create and collaborate to find new solutions). This is a three-dimensional awareness. The team needs that awareness, being evoked by the process of coaching.
There are choices with respect to what to do with this multilayered awareness. This is where the messiness starts. Making the decision as team coaches, in the here and now, what would best serve this team to evolve? What would create the energy sufficient to generate meaningful and sustainable action? It is messy, because we cannot know how it will work, there is uncertainty in it, but there is great potential. How we as coaches co-create with the team a certain shape (solution, clarity) and with what emerges relates to a coach’s meta skills. These meta skills (see Team Coaching Studio’s (TCS) Team Coaching Wheel©) are: presence, use of self and active experiments. At TCS presence is defined as “the ability to be fully present and conscious in order to create spontaneous relationship with the team”. It reminds me of my mantra which I repeat to myself before team coaching ‘when the dancer becomes the dance’… It’s being the dance and letting your energy lead you to connect and co-create in the present. Use of self is defined as “the ability to leverage your presence to make intentional interventions”. And, active experiments “are about creating a real-time shift in the team’s perspectives and behaviour. They emerge spontaneously out of the team process playing out in the here and now. Active experiments convert insight into action and change.”
As you will notice, these three skills are interconnected – we can’t practice active experiments without being present and leveraging our presence.
As a team coach, I am excited about active experiments. At the start of my journey as a team coach it seemed intimidating to me, yet it also brought an abundance of energy… the energy streaming out of that opportunity to co-create with a team. Using the example of one leadership team I coached, when the level of trust and psychological safety became high, I could dive into the experiment.
This was a leadership team of six and we had been working for almost a year. At the start of the session, we reconnected as usual and after, in the silence of anticipation, I simply asked: What would make this team session an extraordinary one for you? So in we dived, and engaged discussion ensued whilst respecting all the ‘golden rules’ this team chose. I loved being part of this emergent, exciting and insightful process.
Real team coaching is emergent, present and holds the wisdom of letting go and trusting the flow. It is humble and yet very powerful! It doesn’t need to fix and control, because the value of any human and team is intrinsic, ever present and just waiting to be unleashed. That’s how I imagine us to be so that we inspire transformational change for a better world.