The expansion of team coaching as a profession has been remarkably rapid. Yet the future of team coaching lies increasingly not as an additional skill for external professional coaches, but as an essential skill for leaders at all levels in organisations. A significant proportion of people training as team coaches are team leaders, who see the benefits of having a deeper insight into how teams work and how this can help them develop a more effective style of leadership.
Leaders, who have engaged purposefully with team coaching, report that they are far more aware of the systems within and around their teams. As a result, they see more clearly the complexity of the forces that drive or undermine team performance and can intervene in much more targeted ways. They are able to spread some leadership responsibilities amongst team members, freeing them up to focus on what is most important. They also:
- Find more time to develop direct reports
- Feel more confident and self-assured in tackling complex problems
- Are better able to influence the organisation’s systems to achieve positive change
- See team coaching as a valuable investment in their career progression.
Team coach training at the Foundation level builds on leaders’ experience of working in teams and leading teams to start to build a coaching culture within the leader’s own team. At a more advanced (Practitioner) level, they can help other leaders and their teams to begin a similar journey. At a Senior Practitioner level they might, for example, work with a team of teams.
As companies come under greater pressure to respond flexibly to constant change, the skills of team coaching will become more and more essential. Conversations with senior HR professionals around the world convince me that every manager needs teaming skills. It used to be enough, if managers had some understanding of team building, but a modern environment requires greater sophistication in organising to obtain the best from people both individually and together. Having Foundation level team coaching skills not only helps the leader get more from their existing team, but sets them apart in the competition for promotion to higher levels of management.
In those conversations with HR, it also emerges that they have a major concern that many (in some cases, more than half) of their executives are obsolete, in the sense that they cannot adapt to more inclusive leadership styles and they are unable to engage in complex, adaptive systems thinking. Yet these are skills that can readily be acquired as a Practitioner or Senior Practitioner team coach. One reason for this is that the training requires them to practice on other teams, as well as their own – so their learning is faster, deeper and broader.
Of course, not everyone will be able to adapt to thrive in this complex environment. Yet leaders, who are serious about how they add significant value to their organisations increasingly recognise the value of acquiring team coaching skills.
© David Clutterbuck, 2023