Coaching Executive Leadership Teams

Our Approach to Executive Leadership Team Coaching

Our approach to executive team development is based on a philosophy that this is a process that is by its nature “developmental” (hence the use of the term “journey”) consists of a well planned series of activities taking place over a defined period of time, and involves the dual coaching of  Team both on and off the field (i.e., the programme includes both on-site observation and off-site practice development sessions).  We also work with the definition of “leadership” being a social process (see purpose x processes x people model below) rather than being linked to a title/job-grade.

Key to the team coaching intervention is the formulation and delivery of a ‘practice development programme’ that consists of a planned and scheduled series of workshops with the executive team that takes into consideration the business agenda whilst at the same time focuses on individual leadership and team development priorities (these can range from dealing with underlying group process dynamics through to facilitating strategic planning conversations).

The team coaching programme takes into account the organisational context of the team as well as the stage at which the team is at in terms of its’ own “life cycle”. Our experience has shown us that team development programmes tend to span a 6 month to 2 year time line, with the frequency of engagement trailing off as the team leader and team are able to become more “self directed” to sustain the level of effectiveness and performance of the Team.

What is a “High Performance Team” (HPT)?  A 2-axis KPI scorecard

As a point of departure, we understand a high performance team is all about the intersect between 2-axis of performance:  BEING and DOING.   This 2-axis model has helped our clients in exploring how successful a team is – what are focus areas for consideration and what are strengths to build upon.   DOING is all about work results, it is the axis that takes into account the task delivery dynamic.   BEING is all about social cohesion, it is the axis that evaluates the  interpersonal dynamic.

This implies that when we coach a team, our definition of success takes into account a need to pay attention to both the task of the team (clarity of vision, mission, strategy and business objectives, how it is organised, etc.) as well as the teamwork that will be required (interpersonal dynamics, levels of affinity, individual and collective capabilities required, ways of working & appreciation of interdependencies, etc).

The simple, yet elegant model, is based on Kurt Lewin‘s pioneering research and theory as a social psychologist.  Sean Germond has developed a HPT assessment tool that he uses to understand where a team is at, and to track the progress of the team during and post the Team Coaching Programme.   As each team has unique characteristics, the team members themselves co-create the HPT index that becomes their own scorecard – using the 2-axis model.

The Dimensions/Elements that underlie Performance

The above scorecard is a helpful metric for understanding performance.  However, we also believe that such outcomes are under-pinned by the 3 dimensions of teamwork .   The 3-D Model provides a helpful frame of reference to facilitate the conversation that the team needs to have on ‘what do we need to talk about”.

The dimensions are completely interrelated and interdependent, and are “joined together” by the relevant and appropriate leadership practices. You cannot think about the team’s purpose (what is our intent and ambition), without understanding “who we are” as well as ensuring that “how we work together” supports our expectations and our intent.

There are many models and theories about what makes a successful team.  Such models or frameworks inform the approach that one might adopt when asked to assist a client in a team development process:  be this in the establishment of a team (e.g., often when the team context, structure or composition has changed) or the improvement of an existing team (e.g., where the team is experiencing difficulties).

RThe Pygmalion Team Effectiveness model provides us with a frame of reference that would support any Team Coaching Programme, and this is outlined below.  The model concerns itself with what practices would enable a team to be effective in order to achieve success.  However, we recognise that models are merely metaphors or images that provide a point of departure, so the model offered below does so as a tentative 1st step in helping shape a mutual understanding of the client’s intent.

  • “Purpose” is all about the team’s alignment with business vision, mission & objectives and how these support longer strategic priorities.

This means that an effective team is: clear about its ambition and how this plan has been translated into effective delivery; has a shared understanding of context issues (internal and external) that inform and continue to influence such plans; is able to work within the structure that defines both roles as well as work processes; and is always paying attention to key performance drivers and indicators.

  • “People” is all about assisting the team with realising the value contribution that each team member brings to the team in terms of their unique contribution (that is a combination of skills, experience, personality and networks).

This means that an effective team is able to leverage the diversity of talent and work styles that is in the team; is able to deal with conflict and disagreement as well as celebrate cooperation and achievement; can collaborate and accommodate personal and functional (role) requirements; understands and grows each other abilities as leaders to be effective contributors to the team and the business.

  • “Processes” is all about ensuring that how the team works together has a direct impact on the performance of the team (i.e., you get what you set out to achieve) and the mutual sense of identification and belonging to the team.

This means that an effective team is able to retain focus on what is important; is able to have productive conversations (meetings) relating to operational and strategic issues; has discovered the most efficient way of co-ordinating effort and execution; is flexible in its approach to emerging realities and the changing landscape; and makes the best possible use of resources to get the job done