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Understanding the Rapid Growth of Team Coaching

John Leary-Joyce | 03/08/2015

We have to remember that ‘team coaching’ is a new hybrid, emerging out of a wealth of research, experience and practice over decades in team facilitation and team development. So when we talk about growth in ‘team coaching’ it partly includes those already in the field switching the name of what they do to ‘coaching’ which is a much more fashionably/sexy title. However, a lot of team facilitation is conducted as one-off events and the influence of coaching is to help the team over a period of time to develop its capability/capacity.

management & leadership programmes A lot of ‘team coaching’ interventions are built on the back of change management & leadership programmes where there is an awareness that to really embed change requires teams to work effectively. Many so-called ‘teams’ are simple working groups that come together to share information or report to the same senior leader. Again there is the recognition that this is not good enough in today’s challenging marketplace. All the research and experience indicates that these groups will be more effective when they pull together for a common goal, work across silos and manage their stakeholders collectively. This is obvious in team sports and is gradually being recognised in organisations.

There is also the growing recognition that for effective individual coaching of team leaders requires the coach to get involved with how that leader is leading his/her team. This makes it very tempting for the individual coach but is fraught with huge difficulties. The multiple levels of attention that is required for team work requires is way beyond the capacity of someone trained to work with individuals. I think that individual coaches need to do a substantial team coach training programme unless they have a solid background in team work, either as a successful team leader, facilitator or consultant in order understand the complexities of team coaching.

The new governance regulations requires Board evaluations, and while still these are primarily a ‘tick box’ exercise, it indicates that there is the growing expectation for Boards to work as teams - an area in which team coaching can serve. The weakness in many team coaching training programmes and interventions is the lack of real systemic focus. Team coaching is just a more sophisticated version of team development and focuses on the dynamics of the relationships within the team and doesn’t address what the team is there to do and who does it serve. This is where the Systemic Team Coaching programme run by the AoEC stands out. The Five Disciplines model lays as much emphasis on how the team relates to its stakeholders as it does to its internal relationships.

So these are the areas where we’re seeing the rapid growth of ‘team coaching’ and it seems that it’s across all types of organisations and sectors. There is a risk that team coaching is just another title for off-site team development days and it is good to see that professional bodies like APECS are taking the lead in developing accreditation standards for team coaches.

The field of team coaching is going to grow exponentially over the next 5 years. We are now understanding the limitations of individual coaching and seeing that a more systemic perspective that involves teams is required for broader more sustainable change in organisations.

See more about the Systemic Team Coaching Certificate.

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