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Book Summary – Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership

In an increasingly complex world, no leader—no matter how capable—can single-handedly fulfill all the demands expected of him/her. To thrive, organizations need leadership teams to work together across functional and geographical borders, and to satisfy the needs of both internal and external stakeholders. In this Leadership Team Coaching summary, you’ll get an overview of the detailed, systems-level approach to team development and coaching by Peter Hawkins.

What is Leadership Team Coaching About?

Executive team coaching is a relatively new field compared to individual coaching. In this book, Peter Hawkins provides a comprehensive review of the research, history and approaches behind team coaching. He explains the elements of high-performing teams, and presents a holistic approach to team coaching. He also shares how to coach different types of teams and how to select/develop coaches.

This is useful for leaders, HR/coaching practitioners, or anyone who wishes to understand coaching practices and techniques for enhancing team performance.

The book was originally written in 4 parts. In our Leadership Team Coaching summary, we’ve organized the key insights in 2 sections:

• Coaching high-performing leadership teams; and

• Implementing systemic team coaching.

Coaching High Performance Leadership Teams

What are High-Performing Leadership Teams?

A team is much more than a work group, e.g. a group formed to give advice, share information, make decisions, or finish a specific task.

A real team has several characteristics:

  • It delivers a collective product, where the combined output is greater than the sum of individual parts.
  • Its interactions are open and generative (not agenda-bound).
  • It focuses not just on tasks, but also processes and learning.
  • All members share leadership roles, with both individual and mutual accountability.

Do get our complete 16-page Leadership Team Coaching summary to learn more about (i) the characteristics of high-performing teams, and (ii) the additional challenges for coaching leadership teams. Basically, leadership is relational by nature, so leadership development should address not just the leaders’ individual abilities, but also their relationships, real-world challenges, and the context in which they operate.

Peter Hawkins integrates all of these considerations and factors into 5 disciplines for effective teams (elaborated below).

What is Team Coaching?

Team coaching evolved from a blend of traditional consulting, personal coaching, and sports/professional coaching. The goal is to improve a team’s collective ability to work together.

It’s much more than team-building, which often occurs in the early stages of team formation when members are still unfamiliar with one another. The focus is on the entire team, not individual team members.

In fact, team coaching falls on a spectrum, with the coach’s responsibility expanding as you move from left to right.

Leadership Team Coaching summary - team coaching spectrum

Team facilitation is about improving specific processes, e.g. having an external party help with conflict resolution or facilitate a strategy session. A team process consultant may also work alongside a team to diagnose gaps and areas for improvement.

Team performance coaching addresses both processes and results/outcomes.

Leadership team coaching is not just for senior teams. It can elevate any team’s collective ability to influence its stakeholders.

Transformational leadership team coaching goes a level further to raise the team’s ability to transform its business.

Systemic team coaching adopts an even more holistic approach, to address a team’s ripple effects across a complex system, e.g. how it affects its stakeholder’s stakeholders, or it customer’s customers.

Based on years of research and experience at Bath Consultancy Group, Hawkins believes that systemic team coaching is the best approach for developing high-performing transformational leadership teams. He defines it as “a process by which a team coach works with a whole team, both when they are together and when they are apart, in order to help them improve both their collective performance and how they work together, and also how they develop their collective leadership to more effectively engage with all their key stakeholder groups to jointly transform the wider business.”

Implementing Systemic Team Coaching

The 5 Essential Disciplines For Team Performance

Hawkins consolidates the elements of a great team into 5 disciplines. These include 4 internal and external domains, as well as a 5th discipline that links the 4 domains.

Leadership Team Coaching summary - 5 disciplines for effective teams

Commissioning (external task): The team leader and sponsor agree on the team’s mandate, or what it must deliver. This is necessary for the leader to select the right members.

Clarifying (internal task): Once the team is assembled, its members must jointly crystallize their mission, including their primary purpose, strategy, core values, and vision of what they could become.

Co-creating (internal process): Having committed to the mission, the team must now jointly figure out how to deliver results, such that the total output exceeds the sum of its parts.

Connecting (external process): An effective team must engage all its key stakeholders (e.g. its customers, investors, suppliers, regulators, and local communities) and develop/align those relationships to improve the overall results.

Core learning (systemic integration): To thrive, a team must continually learn, unlearn, and stay ahead of ongoing changes.

In our full summary, we dive further into (i) the team coach’s role for each of the 5 disciplines above, and (ii) the interlinkages between the 5 disciplines to be managed.

The Team Coaching Process: CID-CLEAR

The role of a team coach is to help the leadership team to improve its operations, performance, relationships, and its ability to self-learn and self-develop. Hawkins’ CID-CLEAR model can be used by team leaders or coaches alike.

Basically, use CID to set up the relationship (Contracting1 => Inquiry => Discovery), before embarking on the 5-part CLEAR coaching process (Contracting2 => Listening => Exploring & Experimentation => Action => Review).

Leadership Team Coaching summary - CID-CLEAR coaching processSimilar to the 5 disciplines, CLEAR is a cyclical process. You can get a breakdown of each of these steps from our full 16-page Leadership Team Coaching summary.

Team leaders can use the approach to get buy-in for any situation. For example, at the start of a meeting, start with a contract/check-in, listen to inputs, explore 1-2 key items, zoom in on action-steps for those items, then review what worked or didn’t work.

Coaching Different Types of Teams

Teams can be categorized based on their function, geographical reach, hierarchical position, etc. Coaches should adapt their approach and focus to match the needs of different types of teams. Peter Hawkins breaks down the differences in coaching requirements for various types of teams including: leadership teams, management teams, project teams, virtual teams, international teams, and client/customer account teams.

He also devoted an entire chapter to discuss the considerations for coaching a board of directors (BOD). Coaches must understand the more complex challenges and roles faced by BODs compared to the other types of teams, know about different types of board structures, and adapt the CID-CLEAR process accordingly.

Selecting, Developing and Working with Team Coaches

Individual coaching is often done internally by HR/line managers, internal or external coaches. Yet, few coaches are equipped to handle the full spectrum of team coaching highlighted above. Hawkins shares a 7-stage model (using the elements shared earlier) to help you select and work with the right coaches. He also explains the components and processes for team coaching supervision, and the tools/methods for coaching different types of teams under different circumstances.

Finally, he explains the new skills and perspectives that individual, organizational, and sports coaches would need in order to become effective team coaches. These include the ability to: zoom in and out to see the components parts and and wider patterns, tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity, take “appropriate leadership”, work with diversity, etc.

If you’d like additional insights on building strong teams, do check out the Overcoming the Five Dysfunctions of a Team summary.

Getting More from “Leadership Team Coaching”

Ultimately, coaching is not an end in itself, but a way to equip individuals and teams with the ability develop and unlock their organizations’ potential and contribution. If you’re ready to explore team coaching for your team, or to become a team coach, do check out more details in our full book summary bundle. This includes an infographic, 16-page text summary, and a 30-minute audio summary.
Leadership Team Coaching summary - Book Summary Bundle

In the book, Hawkins reviews past research/work from many other practitioners and thought leaders, such as Wageman et al, Katzenbach and Smith, Peter Senge, Peter Drucker, and Patrick Lencioni. He also includes case studies, detailed frameworks, models, questionnaires and tools that practitioners can use to understand and apply the concepts. You can purchase the book here or visit Bath Consultancy’s website for more information.

About the Author of Leadership Team Coaching

Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership was written by by Peter Hawkins–a consultant, coach, author, and researcher, best known for his work in leadership, executive coaching, and systemic team coaching. He’s a Professor of Leadership at Henley Business School, Emeritus Chairman of Bath Consultancy Group, Chairman of Renewal Associates, and serves on the board of several small companies and charitable trusts.

Leadership Team Coaching Quotes

“A carefully selected and well supported team have far more chance of being successful in leading today’s complex organizations than a heroic leader.”

“Leadership lies in the ability to transform relationships and inspire, motivate and align those wider parts of the system necessary to transform the contribution of the team.”

“Teams not only need to learn, but also unlearn.”

“Ultimately the value of a business is rooted in the wide range of perceptions stakeholders hold about the company.”

“If you do not know what success will look like and how it will be measured, you are far less likely to achieve it.”

“Leadership is not just a role we inhabit – it is also an attitude to life and its challenges.”

Click here to download the Leadership Team Coaching summary & infographic

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