Video: Professor Peter Hawkins on Systemic Team Coaching

19th March

Reading time 4 minutes

Share this article:

Twitter LinkedIn


Right now in the world we're seeing an enormous upsurge in people wanting team coaches, because people are recognizing that challenges now facing the world can't be dealt with by heroic individual leaders.

We need collective, collaborative leadership, But traditionally a lot of team coaching has been about how do we get better relationships and dynamics within the boundaries of the team?

The real challenge today is how do we also get that team to be able to team with the teams upstream from it, above it, the employers beneath it, the teams upstream, the team downstream?

So, when we work with the team it's as much about working with how they engage with the outside world, with what the future is requiring and probably even more than dealing with what's happening in the interpersonal and personal dynamics. And that's where Systemic Team Coaching takes us into real value creation not just to a harmonious working group.

So the five disciplines of high value creating teams, which we developed about 15-18 years ago and have refined ever since as we worked for teams right around the world, is to look at, first of all, how do we focus not only on the team's task but also on the team's process. And how do we focus on the internal of the team AND the external.

So that gives us a two by two. In the top, up here, we have the first of the disciplines – commissioning, why are we a team? And here we say you don't create the team purpose - you discover it. We discover it because the team's purpose is always outside in, and future back. What do our stakeholders need from us today, and what will they need different in the future? And that gives us our collective purpose. What can we only achieve together that we cannot achieve apart? The ‘why’ of our team.

There, we look at having got the purpose, how do we turn that into a clear team charter? If that's the why, the purpose, the commissioning - the clarifying is all about the ‘what’. What do we need to do in terms of team KPIs, team objectives, team roles, team processes. What do we need to focus on together, rather than in our separate silos?

Once we've got the ‘why’ and the ‘what’, now we can come down to the ‘how’. The co-creating. How do we need to have our meetings? How do we need to join up? How do we need to shift the team dynamic to achieve the what to serve the why? So once we've got the why, the what, and the how we've laid the foundations. But we only really create value when we move right across here to the southeast, which is the connecting discipline which is the ‘who’. How through the work we've done do we transform the partnership with every one of our stakeholders? Our employees, our investors, our suppliers our customers, communities where we operate and the more than human world of the ecology? How do we shift our teaming across the boundary with the teams around us?

So now we've got the why, the what, the how, the who and right in the middle that connects all of those four is the core learning. How do we constantly grow our  collective capacity as a team to do more at higher quality, with less resource? Not by pedalling harder, but by collaborating better because that's what every team we work with is having to step up to.

So now we have the five disciplines – commissioning, clarifying, co-creating, connecting and core learning.

Classically, group coaching is when we're coaching individuals but in a group context. They may be not just us coaching individuals but the group being part of the coaching matrix, but the focus is what each individual brings. Whereas in Systemic Team Coaching we're looking at the team as a whole being the focus, then even the team is not our client. The team, in Systemic Team Coaching is our coaching partner and the client is the world that team is in service of - their customers, their employees, investors, communities.

 So, we are shoulder to shoulder with the team discovering what the world of their stakeholders and the world of the future needs and helping them create more value in that context.

Renewal Associates, with the Academy of Executive coaching, run several types of Systemic Team Coaching programmes. We have the certificate programme which actually is for anyone who may be a HR business partner, or a team leader, or a coach, or a consultant who wants to become really team literate. And then how can they incorporate team coaching to the work they're already doing and start to be able to offer it more? Every coach today needs to be team literate. Why? Because sooner or later if you're a coach the most common issue that gets brought to you is “How do I develop my team?”, “How do I deal with difficult team members?”, “How do I get my team to step up?” And to do that very soon you discover as an individual coach that you are supervising the team coaching of your coachee. So, it's really important that even if you never coach whole teams you learn about team coaching because you're going to be doing it one removed anyway. The same way as every team leader in today's world needs to become a team coach. So this has wider applicability, and once you've done the certificate program there's the opportunity to go on to the one-year Master Practitioner programme where you can really learn the depth of skills of going into different teams and multiple teams in organisations.