Leadership team coaching in practice

Photo: Private collection


Photo: Private collection

Dr Hawkins, what would you like for our readers to know about you in the beginning of this interview?

I am passionate about helping to develop the collective leadership that is needed for the 21st century, so that my five grandchildren will grow up in a world which is no longer dominated by 20th century male heroic leaders who are not fit for the future.

Can you please tell us about the evolution of your seminal ideas in the field of systemic team coaching and the Five C Model?

Having coached leadership teams for 30 years in many different sectors in a variety of countries, I was dissatisfied with the progress that some of these teams were making. I reviewed all the best global research on effective teams, carried out some of my own research in the area and soon realised that the world lacked a comprehensive model of effective leadership teams and how best to coach these teams.
This model proposes that to be effective, teams need to have mastered all five disciplines and that systemic team coaches, and team leaders, need to be able to coach teams both within each discipline and on the connections between these disciplines.

1. Commission 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 several 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 important stakeholders before it was too late. Commission is all about understanding WHY we exist as a team, our ‘Raison-d’etre’ and this is determined by the stakeholders that we work with.
2. Clarifying Receiving a clear commission from your stakeholders is not enough. A great team creates its own sense of its collective endeavour- what are we here to achieve collectively 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 as a team.
3. Co-creating 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 together we’re generating new thinking that none of us had before we came into the room?
4. Connecting 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.
5. Core learning If a team only achieves being effective in the first four disciplines, it becomes better and better at succeeding in playing today’s game. However, in a world of exponential change every team needs to also be growing its capacity to meet the increasing challenges and growing complexity of the future. The team needs to be focussing on its individual and collective learning. How it can do more at higher quality with less resource and become more agile and resilient. The team needs to take time out to reflect and preflect 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?

The idea of system is at the core of your approach. Could you with our readers some of the main principles of the systemic approach.

That a team is not just the product of the team members, but has a life of its own, which is also created by the team’s purpose and all the interactions with all its stakeholders

It’s interesting that there are many conflicting views on the role of psychology in coaching and team coaching in particular. What is your view on these issues?

A team coach needs to understand adult psychology, human relationships, team dynamics and also organizational behaviour. But they have to also understand business as we are not in the business of helping team members relate better to each other, but to be more productive and to co-create value with and for all their stakeholders.

In your groundbreaking books Leadership Team Coaching and Leadership Team Coaching in Practice, you offer models, tools and techniques, as well as case studies in organizational team coaching. Can you please share with our readers some of the success stories from your own team coaching practice?

Over the last 35 years I have worked with hundreds of leadership teams in over 30 countries and across a wide range of sectors, including global companies, governments, international charities, professional service firms and universities. Many of these engagements not only helped the executive team function far more successfully, but also each team better lead the teams that reported to them. In addition many of these assignments were to help the executive team collectively lead a major organizational transformation. A number of these are written up in my second team coaching book: Leadership Team Coaching in Practice.

We are now seeing an explosion of digital strategies and disruptive startups. How do you see the role of team coaching in these business trends?

In the latest edition of both my books on team coaching I have included case studies of coaching business start-ups and growth companies. This is where all the growth in employment is increasingly coming from, and here you have to coach not just the leadership team but coach the business.

We know you are very busy delivering the Systemic Team Coaching Certificate all over the globe. Can you please tell us who is your typical audience in this program and what is the thing they find most useful in the program.

On the programmes, we have had coaches, organizational development consultants, HR directors and HR business partners as well as CEOs and leaders of business wanting to learn how to coach and develop their own team.

The feedback has been amazing and people are incredibly positive about it.

What is in your opinion the future of team coaching?

Currently this is the fastest growing form of any type of coaching and I believe this will continue to grow. What is important going forward is that the focus is not simply on facilitating the team to relate better together, but on systemic team coaching that enables the team collectively to create greater value with and for all their stakeholders.

In the beginning of the year you delivered the program in New York City. What is the main difference between coaching in America and Europe?

Europe has been quicker to realise that coaching needs to deliver not just for the individual but also the team, the organization and the organization’s stakeholders. But in the last 2-3 years systemic team coaching has taken off right across North America and in April I will be delivering four systemic team coaching trainings, in Hollywood, San Francisco, Santa Barbara and Vancouver, all of which have sold out!

For the end, what would be your definition of team coaching in one sentence?

Systemic team coaching is working with the whole team over time, so that it functions at more than the sum of its parts and co-creates greater value with and for all its stakeholders.

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