When we think of a team or a coach, we probably assume that the topic is sports. But the coaching of teams exists in today’s workplace as well.
At CCL, team coaching refers to the process of a single coach working with a team of leaders. This type of coaching has evolved alongside increasingly team-oriented workplaces.
Most leaders, however, are unfamiliar with team coaching. Team coaching is often left to professional consultants, as today’s leaders primarily develop and coach individuals. But leader-coaches will be even more successful if they are able to extend their coaching responsibilities to entire teams.
Being a team coach requires a wide range of skills and perspectives. Underlying those are personal qualities of courage, risk taking, and maturity. Let’s discuss how you can become an effective team coach:
1. Be clear regarding performance and development.
Try to facilitate learning for the team as a whole. Find ways that your team members can gain insight and practice different behaviors to improve their individual and team member effectiveness. Assess and moderate their behaviors as well.
2. Develop organizational savvy.
The coach needs to be adept at being part of a coaching organization — not just at being a skilled individual coach. This means being collaborative and open to influence and learning. It also means being willing to share unsuccessful strategies so other coaches may avoid the same difficulties.
3. Utilize a systems-thinking perspective.
Coaches must understand the complex organizational dynamics in which the team operates.
4. Be comfortable with ambiguity.
Team dynamics often create unpredictability. Coaches shouldn’t expect to drive the direction and specific outcomes of the team; instead, they must be willing to learn the ways in which the team works, and then coach accordingly.
5. Understand, identify, and manage boundaries.
A team coach should be finely attuned to the many relationships within the team. The coach has to work within at least 3 relational units: with individual coachees, with the team as a whole, and, finally, with the organization.
6. Remember that team coaching doesn’t always have immediate results.
Effective team coaching does require some altruism and a strong desire to help your organization. Other business and organizational demands are great and constant. Don’t expect too much too soon from the team members.
If a leader-coach is persistent, the team and the individuals within it will function better. And you can start slow — introducing small changes that foster growth and development.
Here are 3 things a coach can try:
- Introduce a new view. Invite a trusted colleague to coach the team. A fresh perspective may help the team see new paths and solutions.
- Break the rules. Doing something different within a team can create positive turbulence and open up new possibilities.
- Share your struggles. Having team members hear and see some vulnerability on your part might translate into authenticity on their part.
So lead on, and happy coaching!