Annette Kledal is a PCC ICF-accredited coach based in Denmark and is the founding partner at Expand.nu. She studied the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Certificate and Diploma programmes and here, gives a candid insight into her time on the Diploma and how she is applying systemic team coaching in her work with leadership teams.
What is your career background and coaching experience, and what led you to sign up for the AoEC’s Systemic Team Coaching Diploma course?
I am originally a dentist, practicing for 10 years in Copenhagen. But that is over 20 years ago and since I left dentistry I have been working with coaching and transformation. Many people say: ‘wow, that was quite a leap’ when I tell them that! And it was and at the same time taking a step in another direction is not that difficult, when you know you are doing what is right for you. When I first met coaching back in 1999, I just knew that “this is me – this is the perfect fit”.
It has been 21 years since I’ve founded my company, Expand.nu. It has been and still is, a fantastic journey being and working as a coach. I love every minute of it.
I started out working mostly with individuals privately and in organisations. As I gained more experience and I could see, that the complexity in organisations grew with more stakeholders to manage and more work being team based, I realised I needed to learn more about coaching teams. I took some courses in Denmark and I read Peter Hawkins book Leadership Team Coaching many years ago. But something was still missing for me to experience the same impact coaching teams as I knew from coaching individuals. Around the same time, I decided to take onboard a co-partner in Expand.nu, Christophe Kittel, with a long-standing international business and corporate background. Working with teams became even more obvious to us.
That’s when we were so lucky to experience Peter Hawkins on the 3-day certificate training in Denmark and I just knew I had to take the full programme in London. It was the same feeling of knowing, that I had leaving dentistry and going into coaching. A feeling I have met other times in my life and that I know I must follow.
What did you find were the most beneficial learning experiences on the diploma?
That is a big question because there are so many learnings at many levels and the great thing is, that they seem to continue after the programme has ended.
To highlight a few of them, I think the length and depth of the programme helped me get a feeling of getting systemic team coaching ‘under my skin’. This was also due to the client case work that I did during the programme. Putting frameworks, models and personal learnings into work immediately between the modules was really creating great learning. I would recommend anyone taking the programme to have a client case to work with during the programme.
Understanding things like ‘how the system speaks through the individual and team’ and what it means ‘coaching the connection’ (and not the individual) took some time for me to really grasp. Here supervision with Hilary Lines was of great help to raise awareness.
The supervision also turned out to create learning on another level. I was lucky to have my co-coach back home in Denmark. We did a supervision call together with Hilary, and that was eye opening to get to see and understand the parallel processes going on between our client system and our coach system. I think we know it is happening, but to experience it this way was truly eye opening.
And then of course all the models, tools and great people in the training was very beneficial.
How has your own coaching model evolved having studied the diploma programme?
I have been teaching coaching on my own ICF-accredited coach training in Denmark for many years. I have developed a coaching model that I know works if you want to create transformation in individuals and it has also proven useful in coaching teams. The diploma programme with the AoEC has upgraded my approach with teams, but also coaching individuals in organisations in a more systemic way.
One example I can mention is the preparation phase (CID) before you do your final contracting with the team. Doing the inquiry and diagnosis together with the team creates a lot of awareness and commitment early on in the process. I didn’t quite do it this way before.
Involving stakeholders both physically during the team coaching process, but also by inviting team members to ‘sit in the chair of an important stakeholder’ and bring the voice into the coaching is something I do a lot. Before I often did it by asking circular questions, but now I also ‘roleplay’ it and it has a big impact.
I think to bottom-line how my model has changed is by always holding a space for the system, always bringing it in and always working to find a common purpose for people who need or want to collaborate – it being me and the client or the client and a stakeholder – or the team and the system. It works on all levels.
What advice would you give to future participants to ensure they really get the best from the learning experience? (E.g. make the most the practitioner group, focus on the case study, do all the background reading etc)
I think my best advice would be to have a client team (case study) to work with during the programme. I found that to be essential. My second piece of advice would be to use your practitioner group as much as you can. It is of great support and a good way to learn more from other great coaches.
What was the benefit to you of working on a live case study throughout the programme?
Putting what we learned into case work and practice immediately. I integrate best through working with what am learning on a concrete level. I need to do it to know I am learning. To me that is an essential part of the learning journey.
And then it was fun and challenging – experiencing what worked and what didn’t and then reflecting on why and what could be done differently next time. The journaling was a great tool to help that. And having done it almost from the beginning really helped me when I had to do the case for the assessment.
Has team coaching become a bigger part of your coaching work since doing the programme?
Yes – and we still want it to grow. Team coaching is on its way to becoming one of Expand.nu’s pillars.
I find we are a bit behind the UK here in Denmark, but the need is there, and the awareness is rising of how beneficial team coaching is to create effective teamwork.
Sometimes it seems like leadership teams don’t think they have the time to invest in themselves as a team – but I don’t see how they can afford not to invest. When I work in organisations, I see so much time wasted, procedures that don’t work, frustrations among employees, silos etc. Missing opportunities for creating great results, better co-operation, creativity and innovation. When a leadership team sets the tone and really act as a team with shared leadership, things happen.
Right now, I am coaching a leadership team who by investing in themselves, finding the purpose of them working as a team with shared leadership (but different roles) is making a huge difference already a couple of months into the process. The impact is already starting to show in the wider organisation.
What typically are the challenges or opportunities you have been asked to help clients with?
Forming new teams – using all of the 5 Disciplines of Highly Effective Teams.
Help teams in their co-creation: use each other’s differences, learn to use conflict as a strength, values work.
Connecting discipline: stakeholder management and coaching the connections with important stakeholders.
Building a team and not just a group of people working together - finding the team purpose (Why do we need to be a team?) and connecting it to what the team needs to step up to.
How do you measure the effectiveness of your team coaching work with clients?
It is a great question and an ongoing concern as to how to best measure the effects of team coaching.
Together with our clients we establish success criteria that we use to measure against during the coaching process and after.
What feedback have you received from the clients you have worked with?
First, that it really makes sense. Our clients tell us that it makes a difference. That it is meaningful. That it is worth the time and effort.
Even if we don’t get to coach a team but have presented the 5C model and how we work with a team, we get the same feedback that the approach really makes sense.
What do you find most rewarding about your coaching work?
Partnering with our clients creating true transformation and the desired results is great. It is such a wonderful experience every time. And it makes me humble to witness what people are capable of. There is so much greatness out there.
A massive thank you to Annette for taking the time to share her personal experience of team coach training with the AoEC.