Transformative Learning: A Journey into Systemic Team Coaching® Supervision


In 2021, Peter Hawkins and I launched the Systemic Team Coaching® Supervision Training Program (STC® STP), aiming to provide a transformative learning experience. The program featured Peter’s renowned 10-eyed model, a favourite among supervisors worldwide. To our delight, participants found that the training not only enhanced their systemic team coaching skills but also completed their systemic team coaching training or supervision training in unexpected ways. They elevated their practice and became more reflective and systemic practitioners. 

Many participants went on to pursue full supervision training programs and became Core Faculty in our Global Team Coaching Programs. This unique niche of combining Systemic Team Coaching® experience with supervision training has proven invaluable both in leading trainings and in coaching practice. 

Recently, I had the pleasure of supervising a pair of team coaches who had completed the STC® STP. It was encouraging to see them grasp parallel process, understanding how their dyad’s dynamics mirrored those of the team and organization. The next step for each of them to consciously ‘hold the whole’ system even when they coached different parts. Another takeaway was their surprise at discovering how they could step out of their comfort zones while remaining authentic—being bold yet encouraging, directive in one moment and supportive in another. John Heron’s styles introduced them to a new way of working, allowing for a fuller range of emotional expression in both directive and non-directive approaches. It’s akin to using the entire piano keyboard rather than just the 12 key octave you see in front of you.  

For those not familiar with John Heron’s styles, here they are: 

  1. Prescriptive: This style involves giving specific advice or instructions
  2. Informative: Providing information and facts to the coachee
  3. Confronting: Challenging the coachee’s assumptions or beliefs
  4. Cathartic: Allowing the coachee to express emotions or feelings
  5. Catalytic: Encouraging the coachee to explore new perspectives or ideas
  6. Supportive: Providing emotional support and encouragement.


Heron’s model underscores that we need to bring the fullness of who we are to support the full potential of who the team can be.  

A couple of questions for consideration: 

  • How do you match for rapport and mismatch for change, at the right moment, with the right skill?  
  • Are there any styles that you find challenging to utilize, or do you prefer certain styles over others? 

Our Systemic Team Coaching® Supervision Training Program has not only enhanced participants’ supervision skills but has also transformed their approach to team coaching. It’s gratifying to see our graduates apply their learnings in diverse settings, becoming more reflective, systemic, confident, and fully capable in their practice.  


Dr Catherine Carr, June 2024


Supervising Systemic Team Coaching

In chapter 16 of the 4th edition of my book “Leadership Team Coaching Developing collective transformational leadership.” (Kogan Page 2021), I write about the need for more trained Systemic Team Coaching Supervisors.  This year Dr Catherine Carr and myself, supported by a global faculty, are leading a training for those who want to increase their coaching supervision skills to be able to supervise Systemic Team Coaching.  To book on this course click here 


“Effective team coaching requires someone who can maintain the difficult boundary position of working closely with the team while remaining relatively independent of the team dynamics and culture, and who can be aware of the systemic dynamics both within the team and between the team and the wider systemic levels that the team is nested within. To be able to sense and make sense of these complex system dynamics is almost impossible if one is working alone, but it becomes possible with good quality supervision. 

What is supervision? 

“Supervision is a joint endeavour in which a practitioner, with the help of a 

supervisor, attends to their clients, themselves, as part of their client–practitioner relationships, and the wider systemic context, and by so doing improves the quality of their work, transforms their client relationships, continuously develops themselves, their practice and the wider profession.” (Hawkins and Smith, 2013: 169) 

Coaching supervision has three elements: 

  • qualitative: providing an external perspective to ensure quality of practice; 
  • developmental: mentoring the coach on their development in the profession; 
  • resourcing: coaching the coach on their coaching practice and work life 

to ensure they are adequately resourcing themselves  

(Hawkins and Smith, 2013: 173–74). 


Coaching and mentoring have been areas of enormous growth in the last 20 years (Jarvis, 2004; Berglas, 2002; Hawkins and Turner, 2017; Hawkins et al, 2019). Despite this, coaching supervision was noticeable by its absence in the first 20 years of this new profession. In the early part of the 21st century very few coaches were receiving supervision (Hawkins and Schwenk, 2006), and those who did so were going to supervisors trained in psychotherapy or counselling. It was not until 2003 that the first specific training was offered for coaching supervisors and 2006 that the first research was published (Hawkins and Schwenk, 2006) and the first book specifically on coaching supervision was published (Hawkins and Smith, 2006). 

In the years since the research, we have seen a significant growth in the practice of coaching supervision (see Hawkins and Turner, 2017; Hawkins and Turner, 2020). All the major professional coaching bodies now recommend supervision as an essential aspect of continuing professional practice and development, and more companies are now requiring supervision for all their internal and external coaches. There has also been growth in the amount of training for coaching supervisors; the UK has led in this field, and such training is now being seen in other countries. However, the growth in specific supervision for team coaching and training for supervisors in this area is still lagging behind, although it is beginning to be available in one or two places. 

Supervision is even more essential for team coaching than it is for individual coaching, as it is nigh on impossible for a coach to be aware of the many levels of the team dynamic as well as the wider systemic context of the team. Additionally, the team coach has often been brought in by the team leader or a sub-section of the team, and may struggle to be accepted by the whole team and the team sponsors in the wider system as someone who can be trusted to work in the interests of the greater whole. For the coach to build and maintain a working alliance with the whole team and in service of all the stakeholders requires constant vigilance. Often, I have found that one can be doing perfectly adequate team coaching but be undone as a coach by unseen team and organizational politics outside of the sessions one is attending. 

I have written elsewhere (Hawkins, 2008, 2010, 2011b, 2011c; Hawkins and Smith, 2006, 2013) of the potential dangers of coaches going to psychologists or psychotherapists for supervision and how this can accentuate the danger of the coaching over-focusing on the individual client and underserving the organizational client. There is now a new challenge, which is that those who are practising team coaching are going for supervision to coach supervisors who are individually oriented, and this accentuates the danger of the coaching over-focusing on the personal and interpersonal dynamics of the team and under-serving the collective aspects of the team in its systemic context. 

There is a shortage of skilled supervisors who are trained not only in coaching and coaching supervision but also in systemic team coaching and the supervision of team coaches. 

Working from Source

Working from Source
By Peter Hawkins, March 2024

In October my new book “Beauty in Leadership and Coaching: and the Transformation of Human Consciousness” will be published by Routledge. In the final chapter I write about how we can work from ‘Source’ rather than from effort.  This will be once again one of the key themes and practices we will address on the Advanced Retreats I run each summer at Barrow Castle, on the outskirts of Bath, surrounded by gardens, woodlands and hills. To book for these click here.

Here is a passage from the final chapter of the book.

We need to learn how to live and work from source, rather than from effort and goal driven will.  On the advanced retreats I run each summer, we carryout collaborative inquiries into the different experiential phenomena of working from effort and working from source.  In pairs I ask one of the pair to adopt the position they are in when working from effort, and for two minutes, to report out to their partner:  “when I work from effort I……..” and to keep discovering new aspects of how this shows up within them.

When both partners have done this, we then invite them to find the physical bodily state they occupy when they work from source, and this time to continually repeat and complete the sentence: “When I work from source I…..”.  I have found that everyone who has taken part has a deep-felt sense of the difference between these two states and knows them from the inside.  Only when these have been deeply accessed, do the pair go on to explore how they can let go of ‘efforting’ and let source flow through their lives more fully.  

I have discovered that when I am working from source, I can work a week of long hours and end the week with more energy than I started it.  It is as if I am using renewable energy, rather than burning up stored fuel.  I am in-tune with my bio-rhythms, rather than working to the clock-time of forced labour.  Since the Industrial Revolution we have created this life versus work split, where we have to use the short time away from work to replenish all the spent energy from being a ‘wage-slave’ throughout the working week.  Even the concepts of ‘work – life balance’, has built into it the notions of work as draining energy and non-work life as replenishing it.

In the chapter on Grace we explored the whole notion of flow. How we can be in flow in our self, our head, heart, and body; our thoughts, feelings and actions.  How we can be in flow with others in our teams and families, our organizations and communities.  How we can be in flow with our work, our art and our craft, and the wider human and more-than-human world, with which we are inextricably entwined.

We are born out of Beauty, sustained by Beauty.  When we awake and become the beauty we love, we return home, to the home we have never left. 


How can you lead, support and coach High-value creating teams?

How can you lead, support and coach High-value creating teams?

Dr. Catherine Carr, MCEC, PCC, RCC and I are very excited to launch our new program, that takes more than twenty years of work developing Systemic Team Coaching around the world and translates it into an on-line program not only for coaches, but for team leaders, HR business partners, consultants and everyone who needs to develop effective teamwork directly as a team leader/member or indirectly through those they coach.
This can be the beginning of the journey to become a professional Systemic Team Coach; or it can be a stand alone training to help you coach individual team leaders and team members, or make a difference to the teams you lead or as a team member.
Supported by a great global faculty from right around the world including
Sue Coyne PCCInge Simons, MCCPau LimMichael CooperIngela Camba LudlowFenneke Tjallingii-Brocken, MSc., PCC, CPCCMonica CallonJonathan SibleyAxel KlimekBob GibbonChristophe MikolajczakDaiana Stoicescu, Coach Trainer, MCC by ICF 🚀Dirk NieuwoudtDumi Magadlela PhD PCCHarriet Dodd PCCJulie StocktonKaren Yanqun WuKathryn AdamsLesley GarrickLilia DicuLucy Shenouda MCC, ACTC, ESIAMichael CooperNathalie Lerotić Pavlik MSc, GMBPsSPamela MaguireSusan Douglas, Ph.D., ACTC, PCC, ESIATjessica Stegenga 🌎 and many others

Join us for a FREE 90 minute Masterclass when we launch our new program!

Programs running on 5 dates between 26th February and 11th March

Don’t miss this valuable opportunity to learn from the best! Secure your free seat here:

Please share this post with your fellow leaders, coaches and mentors who want to unlock the power of high-value creating teams



This is the seventh year that I am sending out a range of Systemic Team Coaching Christmas Crackers to the wide and growing global community of team coaches around the world.  Each year I take one-line aphorisms that I have found myself using on my various trainings and make a short collection.  Like mottos and jokes in Christmas Crackers, they are there to both amuse and help us see the world differently.  I hope you enjoy them.  Previous years aphorisms are published in the 4th Edition of “Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership” (2021) published by Kogan Page.

  1. We need to coach the connections, not the person
    For coaching to move beyond very expensive personal development for the already highly privileged, we need to coach the connections: the connections between the leader and their team; between the team and the team of teams; between the organization and all the stakeholders; between the various functions and between the organizational issues.
  2. Turn blame into need and complaint into request
    The biggest loss of energy and time in team meetings comes from spending time on polluting BMWs. This stands for Blame, Moan and Whine. We can make a big difference by turning every blame or complaint about the present or past into a clear request about the future.  See also my blog on “Grumble to gratitude”.

  3. Discover the extra team member beyond the persons in the room; she is called synergy
    Many teams tell me how pressured and over-worked they are. To one leadership team of 6 who expressed this, I said, ‘You are not making use of the 7th member of the team.’ They asked who the seventh member was.  I said, “she is called synergy.”

  4. Team coaching requires a team of team coaches
    To work systemically it is often more effective to co-coach a team, with two systemic team coaches.  In that case, it is essential for the co-coaches to turn up as a team, one that is more than the sum of its parts and not as a relay-race.

  5. The team is not your client but your team coaching partner
    When team coaching, the team is our coaching partner, and the client is all their stakeholders that the team serves and co-creates value for.

  6. An effective team takes responsibility for each other’s performance, learning and well-being
    I learnt this from my colleague David Clutterbuck, which I think captures very well the movement from individual accountability to collective mutual accountability.

  7. Is your inner team more than the sum of its parts?
    I wrote a blog on this earlier in the year. We all play many roles in life and how we work as a team makes a big difference to both the quality of our lives and the positive difference we can make in the world.  Do your internal team members collaborate or compete with each other? Is your inner team more than the sum of it’s parts 

  8. A purpose without a plan is a dream
    We discover our purpose by discovering what we can uniquely do that our stakeholder’s world of tomorrow needs, if we do not turn this purpose into a plan, it remains a dream, and we are surrounded by unmet needs.

  9. When we are in the spotlight, only the ones behind us can see our shadow
    Carl Jung said that the greater the light, the darker the shadow. This is particularly true for nearly all strong and charismatic leaders.  We all need help from those who are behind us and in our shadow: our team members, followers, our children and our partners.

  10. When the rubber hits the road, the road nearly always wins
    Reality is stronger than the best developed strategies and plans of any individual or group.  As one of my teachers said, “Those who do battle with the reality of what is, never win.” So, we need to welcome reality as our teacher and partner.

  11. To work from source is to realise that the source is not only inside you nor only outside you.
    When our work is in flow and we are working from source, we are not doing the work by ourselves, but in partnership with the world beyond us when the inner and outer merge.

  12. We are not our emotions but the space in which they happen
    The more we can witness our own emotions without identifying with them, the greater our ability to witness the emotions of others with compassionate empathy, without becoming collusive or reactive.

  13. “Beauty is love made sensate.”
    Let me end with this wonderful quote from my friend and teacher Elias Amidon, as it captures in five words much of what I am writing about in my book which is to be published by Routledge in 2024: “Beauty in Leadership and Coaching: and the transformation of human consciousness.”

Happy Christmas, Hanukah, Solstice, Dōngzhì Festival, Yuletide, Saturnalia, or December holidays to all my friends, colleagues, and Blog followers everywhere.

There will be a new program with  called Team Development Essentials and Practitioner program in 2024.

I will also be running a number of Systemic Team Coaching® Practitioner Certificate 3-day intensives in 2024.
Houston, Texas, USA January 22-24  
Singapore, March 13-15
Paris, France, April 24-26
Milan, Italy, May 15-17
Prague, Czech Republic November 4-6.   For more information visit the website

In addition, I will be holding Advanced Retreats for Coaches and Team Coaches during June and September in Barrow Castle, Bath UK, and an on-line programme on Supervising Team Coaching and Transformational Coaching.
For more information visit: Advanced Retreats

Peter Hawkins
21 December 2023
©Renewal Associates 2023

Love your work more in 2024

My first Sufi spiritual teacher always said – “You can always love more.”  By this he meant more in terms of depth and breadth.

What would you need to do, to love your work more in 2024?  For too long we have talked about work -life balance in ways that portray work as a burden we then have to recover from.  In contrast I aim to leave each week of work more energised, alive and creative than when the week began.

So, what have I discovered enables this to happen?

  1. Discover the deeper purpose in your work. Work out who and what your work serves, for whom your work creates value and benefit. Love what you do and love those who benefit from it.
  2. Being in love with learning. Every person and team I coach and every person I train and/or supervise, I see as my next teacher. I have made a commitment that if I ever teach a course or workshop and do not: a) learn something new; b) teach something new; and c) upgrade the program, it will be the last time I teach that course.
  3. Teach what you are learning. I believe that we do not learn by being taught, only when we turn what we have read or heard into our own enacted practice. Also, that we learn most by teaching what we are learning to others, as then we need to be clear in understanding the learning and have to embody it.
  4. Always be curious. Be fascinated by everyone you meet; they all have an interesting story to tell.  Also be curious about new places, their history and culture; new subjects and ways of working different to yours.
  5. Surround yourself with great colleagues and partners. When I was in my mid-twenties and running a therapeutic community, I realised that my boss could not supervise my work, so I formed a peer supervision group and recruited people from many different organizations. My learning and love of the work quickly multiplied. Create a group of great colleagues, compatriots with a shared purpose.  Help those already in your team, by discovering their passion and helping them to develop it more fully at work.
  6. Treat every difficult person and situation that you encounter as a ‘generous lesson life has sent you.” Our most difficult clients, colleagues, bosses or teams are potentially best teachers, so rather than getting frustrated by them, ask yourself what they need you to learn.
  7. Work from source rather than from effort. Each summer I run advanced retreats at Barrow Castle near Bath UK and we explore how to work from source and renewable energy, rather than ego effort and energy that is not renewable. This entails letting go of believing it is you doing the work, and having to perform and get it right, and realise you are always working in partnership and just a channel for the work happening.
  8. Create teams that are synergistic and are more than the sum of their parts. Teams that enjoy being together, but even more love what they are collectively and collaboratively achieving together for the benefit of those they serve. Teams that have a collective purpose, remembering it is the purpose that creates the team, not the team members who create the purpose.

 I invite you to think of three easy ways you could love your work more in 2024.

I will be starting the year by teaching a Systemic Team Coaching 3-day training in Houston USA 22-24th January 2024, assisted by Steliana van de Rijt-Economu and meeting up with as many of our North American alumni who can join us on the evening of the 23rd January. I will love learning from each new trainee and how our alumni are taking the work into new worlds.  If you would love to learn with me visit

From Grumble to Gratitude – four steps to align with life’s agenda


From Grumble to Gratitude – four steps to align with life’s agenda

 I was working with an action learning group of very senior partners in one of the world’s leading professional services firms.  They were all sharing how “Time-poor they were”, how their week was over-filled with meetings and incessant e-mails and messages.  Inside me I could feel a small inner urge to join in the competition of who was the winner in being most time-poor!  However, I soon realised that the conversation was creating a joint downward spiral of helplessness, in privileged leaders who are very senior, powerful and very well paid. so decided I need to intervene.  I said: “I have been sitting here listening and wondering how any of us can be time poor, as far as I know we all have the same number of hours, minutes and seconds every day as everyone other being in the world.  What we are all privileged to have is great range of challenging opportunities, so what would happen if instead of talking about being time-poor, we discussed how we were opportunity rich, privileged to have more possible things to do every day, than we can fit in.”  The energy changed and the dialogue changed to how to make better choices among the multitude of possible activities.

I was delighted when they came back a few months later and told me how they had intervened when their staff had complained about not having enough time and told them they were “Opportunity rich.”.

One of the major ways the energy within a  team is dissipated is through time spent in what I have termed BMWs.  This does not refer to the make of well-known car, but the letters stand for  “Blame, Moan and Whine”.  As problems mount up and challenges get bigger, all of us can fall in feeling victims and hard done by and look for someone to blame.  However, the short-term relief that this may give us, is soon negated and then negatively surpassed, as individual and collective victimhood and helplessness sets in.

Often do I hear the following statements as I  work with many senior leaders and leadership teams around the world:

“Our Board are so unhelpful and restrictive.”

“We just don’t have the time to attend to looking at the really big challenges coming over the horizon.”

“Our CEO is so controlling and never empowers us.”

“We lack the resources to do what is required.”

“Our customers keep making impossible demands.”

“If only I could get rid of X, we would have a great team.”

I am sure there are many examples you could add to this list from your own experience as a coach, or as a leader.  Every minute we listen to a person ‘BMWing’ we are supporting their descent into greater victimhood and feelings of being powerless.  Our job as coaches and team coaches is to help people move to ecological BMWs which stand for “Breath, Move and Wonder”.  To help intervene  supportively in this process I have gradually developed a four-step practice, which I have found very helpful in overcoming both personal and professional difficulties and traumas.


  1. Whenever a problem arrives in your life or in another’s story, reframe it not as a problem but as a challenge
    Just play back what you have heard but substituting the word challenge for the word problem
    A: My Boss never listens
    B: I hear you have a challenge in finding a way to get heard by your Boss


  1. Locate the challenge not in a person, or a part or a system, but in a relationship or connection
    Challenges are always relational, for example between two people, or a person and a task or between two conflicting needs
    A:  We can’t make a profit by meeting all the customer’s needs
    B: I hear you have not yet found a way to meet the needs of customers and investors


  1. See the challenge as the latest generous lesson that life has sent you, to take your learning and development to the next level
    Challenges take us to the edge of what we know and what we know how to manage or respond to.  This is the learning edge which requires us to expand our repertoire of responses, develop new thinking, new being and new doing
    A: I never get heard in meetings
    B: It sounds like life is requiring you to  find new ways of engaging with your team to get your message across


  1. Find the gratitude in your heart for being given this lesson, no matter how awful and shocking it maybe at the time
    This is the hardest step of all, particularly when we are faced with a major trauma, difficulty or setback.  But it is very helpful in restoring our equilibrium and resilience
    A: As a company we are just recovering from the Covid Pandemic
    B: Perhaps we can explore the gifts, lessons and new opportunities that Covid brought to us


Professor Peter Hawkins  May 2023


Is Your Inner Team more than the sum of its parts? 

Is Your Inner Team more than the sum of its parts? 

 In coaching teams over the last forty years in many parts of the world, I have realised that one of the teams that most needs coaching is our own ‘inner team’.  Each of us has many different roles which are matched by different sub-personalities.  We think we have just one ‘I’, but we have many ‘I’s.  Sometimes these different parts of ourselves complement and support each other: other times they disagree and fight together.  The great 20th century Sufi teacher Gurdjieff would point out in his teachings, that the ‘I’ that goes to bed determined to get up in the morning to get a job done before breakfast, is not the same ‘I’, as the one who wakes up tired in the morning and wants to rest in bed. 

We can start developing our inner team by discovering more about each of the team members. Each of these is cocreated in the space between us and the worlds we inhabit.   I have in my team, the teacher, the writer, the organizational consultant, the coach,  the gardener, the husband, father, and grandfather.  Then there are the less prominent members, such as the avid reader, the one who loves good food and wine and entertaining, the humorous one, the meditator, the one who loves young children,  the poet, the friend, the walker, the one who watches cricket and sport. Then there is the integrating and orchestrating ‘Self’, who witnesses these different roles and sub-personalities and who needs to play the role of the team leader. 

The next step in helping this team to be more than the sum of its parts, is to find the team purpose.  This work can be done by addressing the questions:  

  1. what can this team do through collaborating together, that they cannot do by working separately in parallel?   
  1. who and what does the team serve, which require their teamwork? 
  1. what are the top priorities that they all share? 

Only then can we turn to explore how the team members need to collaborate better to serve the collective purpose. We can inquire into which of these support each other and which ones compete for attention?  We can look at our own inner diversity and inclusion – which team members get all the limelight and demand attention, and which ones easily get overlooked and ignored? 

One way of addressing this is to use the method I developed for feedback between team members and the wider team, entitled “Team Contribution Grid” (Hawkins 2022, pp.376-377), for each of your internal team members.  You fill out a separate grid for each member.  Here is the grid I created for each of my team members to complete. 

Three ways I currently contribute to Team Peter 



Three ways I could contribute more fully to Team Peter 


Three ways I receive value from team Peter 



Three ways I could receive greater value from team Peter 




Once they have all been completed, then If you can, put each separate grid on a different chair and imagine them all sitting there, and one by one giving feedback, as you stand in the middle representing the whole team. 

If this is not possible, stick them all up on a wall or white board.  Arrange them in clusters, with those who get on well together, close to each other, and those who are disconnected at a distance.  Think how they would respond to each other. 

Having listened to all the parts, as the team leader, where do you need to coach and facilitate better connections between members?  Which team members need more attention and time in the spotlight?  Which need to be less prominent and move into more of a support role? 

Now compose the message you want all your team members to hear and take on board. Completing the following seed sentences might help you do this: 

  1. Our biggest collective challenges, which requires help from all of you are……… 
  2. Together we could achieve so much more in………  by……….. 
  3. To achieve that, the help I need from all of you is……. 


Once you have written this, try reading it out loud imagining all the different team members in different places in the room. 

Then compose individual messages for each of the individual members. 

  1. What I value about your contribution is…… 
  2. What I find difficult about you is…… 
  3. What the difference I need from you going forward is….. 

In response to each of these, write the commitment that you need each of these roles and sub-personalities to make.  Try and be as specific as possible. 

As team leader we need to love and appreciate every member of our inner team, and not be ashamed of any one of them.  If there are any, we are ashamed of, we need to find a way of developing them to change or help them successfully leave the team.  Our biggest challenge is to help the team to be aligned to the collective purpose and key future challenges; to work together so the team becomes more than the sum of its parts. 


Peter Hawkins April 2023 

Dancing on The Learning Edge

Dancing on The Learning Edge. 


The dance of renewal, the dance that made the world, was always danced here at the edge of things, on the brink, on the foggy coast.”  Ursula Le Guin (1989) 

-All Coaching, Team Coaching, Team Meetings, Conferences are most creative when they quickly travel to the ‘Learning Edge’ and discover how to be creative together at the place where are knowing no longer helps and new answers are required. 

I define the Learning Edge as the place where none of the team members has the answer, where neither the Team Leader or the Team Coach, have the answer, but everyone is clear that life and our stakeholders are requiring us to find and answer. 

What helps us travel quickly to this edge, rather than wasting time trading advice to each other’s problems and sharing pre-cooked thinking, are three processes: 

  1. Thinking outside-in: getting team members to discover who their works creates value for and what each of those stakeholders value about them, find difficult and need different going forward  
  2. Creating future back: Where does the team need to be in 3-5 years’ time in order to double its beneficial impact in the world and create greater value, with and for all its stakeholders, including the wider ecology we all share?  Visioning what success would look, sound and feel like, once we have achieved that. Then addressing the road-map to get there and what are the main barriers and blockages that need to be overcome. 
  3. Turning Problems into Challenges and Challenges into  Opportunities: now we have to reframe the barriers and blockages from being problems to being challenges and opportunities.  The great Roman philosopher Marcus Aurelius wrote 

“The impediment to action advances action, what stands in the way becomes the way” 

One simple practice I have for doing this is when people say,’ but you cannot do x in our organization’, I simply respond with the one word: ‘yet’. 

  1. Entering the journey together with Open Mind; Open Heart and Oen Will: These are the three pre-requisites that Otto Scharmer recommends in the early stages of the U shaped journey of transformation. 

You can sense when you arrive at the learning edge, because it starts to feel scary – the excitement and anxiety increase and the road ahead is foggy and unclear.  Often at this stage teams can become desperate and turn to the team leader or team coach and imploring ask, “so what should we do?”  This has to be resisted, as otherwise the moment of discovery is quickly replaced by a moment of dependency.   

The next human reaction to resist the fresh challenge that is facing us, is to quickly search for past solutions that have worked before. Here it is essential to be reminded that “what got us to her, will not get us to there.”  New times and new challenges call for fresh new responses.  Here as team leader or team coach we have to quickly block off the easy exits, that will quickly become cul-de-sacs, and support the team in staying on the foggy cliff edge. 

Here we have to become comfortable with being uncomfortable, discover what we have to unlearn to free up the space for new learning to emerge, and facilitate processes for generative dialogue, where we can cocreate an answer that was in nobody’s head before we came together.  A good example of such a process is what I have termed ‘Collective Build’ ( see Hawkins 2021: pp371-372 ) 

If you want to explore both your own learning edge and how to help others learn at the edge, then I am running two summer Advanced Retreats for experienced coaches, consultants and leaders in the beautiful setting of Barrow Castle just outside the historical small city of Bath, UK on June 28th -30th and September 6th-8th 2023. Fore more details visit 


Transforming David Kantor’s Four Player model of Team Roles

Transforming David Kantor’s Four Player model of Team Roles

 The late David Kantor (17 December 1927 – 28 March 2021)  made a very valuable contribution to exploring different roles and communication patterns in teams.  His “Four Player” model, proposed that there are four different roles team members can play in team meetings.  These are: 

  • Mover – a person who proposes or advocates an action or strategy for the team
  • Opposer – the person who opposes what has been proposed 
  • Follower – people who agree and follow what has been proposed
  • Bystander – someone who neither supports nor opposes what has been proposed, but provides information, data, or commentary on the proposition

These are often laid out in the following model: 


 These roles can be further used to explore the dominant or habitual communication patterns in a team.  Using P for a proposition; O, for an opposition, F, for the communicating of support and followership, and B – for a neutral contribution from a bystander. 

Thus, a team meeting where someone put up an idea, which is immediately opposed, followed by a different proposition, which in turn is immediately opposed would be scored as M/O/M/O. 

A meeting where a proposition is put forward and everyone just falls into line agreeing to it, would be M/F/F/F/F. 

A meeting where a Proposition is put forward and several team members provide a commentary and stories and further data, but no one agrees to make it happen would be M/B/B/B/B. 

There are many other patterns and dance between the four types of players.  If people stick to just these four player roles, the best that can be hoped for when a mover makes a proposition is that some followers, say great idea, I am up for that, while some of the bystanders bring other perspectives, data and experience that helps refine and develop the proposition, before they too become followers of the new improved idea.   

The model captures some of the often-adopted roles and interplays in traditional team meetings. However, in the many years I have been working in teams I constantly meet the need of the team to go beyond understanding the roles they are trapped in enacting, to discovering how these can transform in a way for the team to be more co-creative and generative.  This is where team coaches need not only maps to better see the current terrain of the team, but also possible new transformative pathways. That help the team mature their inter-play.   

Moving the dancers on to transform the dance. 

I have written a great deal, about how you develop co-creation and generative dialogue within leadership teams that is a key part of creating a team that is more than the sum of its parts. (See especially Hawkins 2021 and Hawkins 2022),  In relation to the role and patterns that David Kantor so usefully saw and wrote about, I have discovered that what can help the team move on further, is first for all four players to transform how they play their role.   

Mover to Challenge Framer
The first important change is when the person that brings the proposition steps back from being a Mover, trying to promote and persuade people to follow a solution, and instead frames the challenge that they are inviting the team to help them address.  I have frequently written about how, if the team do not own and buy into the challenge, they will not own and buy into the solution.  I think it was Reg Revans who said, “people do not resist change, they resist being changed”.  

Opposer to Inquirer
When the challenge has been framed and people invited to help address it, the next changed required is for the Opposer to become an inquirer, sharing any concerns not through arguing against any potential solution, but asking questions that address their concerns, or invite exploration of potential unintended consequences to different ways of addressing the challenge. 

Bystander to Contributor
To create a change in the culture of an organization or even in a team dynamic, one of the quickest ways is to mobilise the bystanders.  A Team Coach or team member can ask the people who are sitting on the side-lines watching a conflict or a stuck situation, to come out of the audience and get active on the pitch.  This involves also helping them move from being a non-committal commentator on what is happening to someone who build on what is there and develops and shapes it to the next stage of iteration and development. 

Follower to Implementer
I have witnessed many times, teams all agreeing to what is proposed but then wondering a month later why it has not happened.  Sometimes I will point out they have confused agreement with commitment.  Agreement is made with raising your hand or nodding your head and means I think it is a good idea and someone should make it happen. Commitment is embodied and means I will put my energy into making it happen. 

 With these transformed player roles, the dance can look very different.   

  1. CFWe have a challenge X and I need the team’s help in working out how we will address it.
  2. Can you say more about what you see as the dangers and risks if we do not address X?

I (2). What would success look like if we managed to collectively address that challenge? 

  1. One way I have seen this challenge being addressed elsewhere is….

C (2). What if we experimented with  …… 

C (3).  One way I would build on that is…. 

  1. These are great ideas, if I have heard you right and put all those ideas together it sounds like the first step we need to make happen is…….

Imp.  I am up for leading on making that happen. Are there 2 or 3 others that will work with me on this? 

Imp (2,3,4,)  Yes happy to support you on this.  

  1. CF. When will you bring this back to the team for us to collectively develop it further?

Imp. Two weeks today if the others of you think this is realistic? 

Thus, by transforming each of the dancers we have created a new dance between them which is more generative and co-creative dance.  But this transformation of the dance does not happen over-night, it takes clear intention, and practice, and mutual help an challenge when we all fall back on old habits and patterns. 

Peter Hawkins April 2023 

  1. Hawkins, P. (2021).  Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership.  4th edition.  London: Kogan Page
  2. Hawkins, P. (ed) (2022).  Leadership Team Coaching in Practice: Case Studies on Creating Highly Effective Teams.  3rd edition.  London: Kogan Page
  3. Kantor, D. (2012) Reading the Room: Group Dynamics for Coaches and Leaders.  San Francisco, USA: Jossey-Bass