What is Systemic Team Coaching?
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 improve both 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 2014:80).
We believe that it is Systemic Team Coaching which is the most needed by today’s organisations and where there is the largest shortage of experienced practitioners.
What makes Systemic Team Coaching most valuable to today's business?
What makes Systemic Team Coaching most valuable to businesses today is that it enables the team to re-frame and enhance the way it relates to and serves its business environment, which means placing as much emphasis on how it leads change with it stakeholders as how it functions internally. Therefore, rather than just focusing on the team’s internal relationships and functioning, (the focus of much ‘team building’ work) the systemic team coach works with the team and its members to build their collective leadership, helping them to co-create value in their engagement with their stakeholders. These include the commissioners of the team; the investors; those that the team leads; the customers and suppliers of the team; the communities in which it operates and the more than human world the team depends upon. This approach recognises that the biggest challenges in nearly all organisations today lie not inside the individuals, teams or even departments, but in the connections between them. Working well as a team when the team is together is an important first step to every team member being able to represent the whole team effectively when they engage with the team’s stakeholders.
We have continued through our own practice and trainings to constantly innovate and refine what we have termed ‘Systemic Team Coaching’ and have continued to publish what has emerged (Hawkins 2017 and Hawkins edited 2018).
The Five Disciplines Model:
In developing Systemic Team Coaching we reviewed all the best research on team performance that we could find including Katzenbach and Smith (1993 &1999); Clutterbuck (2007); Kets de Fries (2005 &2011); Wageman et al (2008); West (2012). From this research and from reviewing in depth the practice of ourselves and our colleagues Peter Hawkins developed the Hawkins Five Disciplines Model of Team Effectiveness. This model proposes that to be effective teams need to have mastered all five disciplines and that systemic team coaching needs to be able to coach teams both within each discipline and on connecting these disciplines.
Are we clear about what our stakeholders are requiring from us? That may be the board, the investors, the customers, communities in which we operate – so the commission comes from a number of sources and so you have to be very careful about the stakeholder/s that you are not noticing. For example, BP didn’t realise that the fisherman of the East Coast of America were an important stakeholder before it was too late. Commission is all about understanding WHY we are here, and this is determined by the stakeholders that we work with,
Receiving a clear commission from your stakeholder/s is not enough. A great team creates its own sense of collective endeavour- what are we here to achieve that we can’t achieve by working in parallel? What are the KPI’s of the leadership team? Not just our individual KPI’s, but our collective goals and roles? How do we not only run our functions, but contribute to the whole? Clarifying is all about WHAT are we going to do.
HOW do we work together in a way that is generative? How do we have meetings where we are not just exchanging pre-cooked thoughts, but we’re generating new thinking that none of us had before we came into the room?
Great teams are not just ones that have great internal meetings and relate well together. Where teams create real value is in how they engage externally with all their stakeholders (customers, suppliers, investors, sponsors, communities and the wider environment). It is also important that each team member is able to represent the whole team and not just their function when engaging externally.
- Core learning.
How does the whole team develop and learn, not just the individuals within it? How does a team take time out to reflect on its development? To ask how does it grow its collective capacity? And how does it become a source of individual stretch and development for its members?
We have developed several 360-degree feedback questionnaires for teams to give and receive feedback on their performance in each of these five disciplines. The first of these in 2010, and a later version was published in Hawkins 2018; and the latest on-line version ‘Team Connect 360” has been developed between AoEC and Renewal Associates. These provide data on how the team sees itself, how the stakeholders see it and also both groups aspirations for the team, that the systemic team coach and the team can jointly explore and use to co-design the team coaching journey. The questionnaires can also be used to evaluate and re-design the team coaching after six months, nine months or a year.
Systemic team coaching is never just a series of events or away-days, but an on-going development journey which continues even when the team coach is not present. It may involve off-site events, the team coach providing process consultancy to the team’s regular meetings or attending stakeholder engagement events. It may also involve some individual coaching of team members focused on how they can develop their contribution to the team’s effectiveness. This is particularly important for the team leader. Combining individual coaching as part of the collective team coaching requires careful contracting with the whole team and clear boundary management (Hawkins 2014:243)
Clutterbuck, D (2007) Coaching the Team at Work, Nicholas Brealey, London
Hackman, J R (2011a) Collaborative Intelligence: Using teams to solve hard problems, Berrett- Koehler, San Francisco
Hawkins, P (2011 &2014 &2017 3rd edition) Leadership Team Coaching: Developing collective transformational leadership, Kogan Page, London
Hawkins, P (ed.) (2014B and 2018 2nd edition) Leadership Team Coaching in Practice, Kogan Page, London
Katzenbach, J and Smith, D (1993a) The discipline of teams, Harvard Business Review, March–April, pp 111–20
Katzenbach, J and Smith, D (1993b, 1999) The Wisdom of Teams: Creating the high-performance organization, Harvard Business School Press, Harvard, MA
Wageman, R, Nunes, D A, Burruss, J A and Hackman, J R (2008) Senior Leadership Teams, Harvard Business School Press, Harvard, MA
West, M A (2012) Effective Teamwork: Practical lessons from Organizational Research, 3rd edn, BPS Blackwell, Oxford
"This book is truly a tour de force and must read for all of us!"
Pam McLean PhD, CEO Hudson Institute of Coaching, USA
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Systemic Team Coaching Resources