What Leadership Team Coaching Can Do for Your Company

September 15, 2015 | Roger and Susie Engelau

“No single leader can any longer meet the demands placed on them and there is growing recognition of the need for highly effective leadership teams.”  ~Peter Hawkins, the top thought leader on the subject of leadership team coaching in his book, Leadership Team Coaching.

There’s a growing wisdom gap in the CEO’s ability to lead the leadership team, according to Hawkins. Many leaders are failing to provide the leadership required to tackle this. He maintains that team coaching is necessary to reduce the danger of ‘group think’ (the prevailing dominant culture, which reduces independent and diverse thought and increases fear).

Increasingly, I find myself doing more leadership team coaching. Here are 8 of the most pressing issues facing business owners who lead leadership teams today: 

  1. The high caliber managers who make up your team expect a lot from you, the CEO. You must win their emotional support. You “will have to be more competent, articulate, creative, inspirational, and more credible if you’re going to win the hearts and minds of your followers” [2000 Hooper and Potter]  No stress there!
  2. There’s no forum for you to talk about the challenges you face and your personal role.
  3. Each member of the team must at once maximize the performance of his/er function while allocating money, time, attention, promotions, etc. to benefit the whole organization.
  4. There can be holding back, jealousies, power-plays… Every person begins to calculate the way their choices will affect their resume. A scarcity mind-set can dominate the hidden dynamics of the team.
  5. What systems are most effective for group decision-making? How does the group decide what kind of decisions are needed when it comes to strategy, policy, practice, and communication?
  6. In the absence of a specified decision-making process, managers tend to be dominated by the power relationships and personality patterns among them.
  7. Too much or too little conflict both impede results, so what techniques does a leader use to control unhealthy conflict and encourage healthy conflict? (Lencioni, The Five Dysfunctions of a Team)
  8. In a world with increasingly complex choices, it’s harder to put distance between the work and the bigger picture, between job life and our personal lives… a probable factor in why more leaders turn to 3rd-party coaches who can provide perspective and protected space.

How Good Leadership Team Coaching Can Help

Here are 7 benefits of leadership team coaching, according to a Center for Creative Leadership whitepaper by Dennis Riddle:

  1. It helps teams go beyond their current abilities because it turns a loosely-bound group of individuals into a real team focused on the company’s goal vs their own goals.
  2. As long as there are topics that are not discussable, the team can’t be managed. Being outside the team’s dynamics, the leadership team coach can verbally observe unhealthy dynamics then provide a structured way to discuss and resolve them. Full team member engagement won’t occur unless each member of the team can trust that the conversation will not result in harm to their objectives or to their future prospects.
  3. Good leadership team coaching helps the group take charge of their key team functions: setting direction, creating alignment throughout the organization, and building the commitment of everyone needed to accomplish organizational objectives.
  4. Since it’s difficult for independent-minded managers to accept feedback, a leadership team coach helps the team to assess how the members’ collective behaviors or processes may be contributing to or hindering the team’s overall success.
  5. The coach provides suggestions about what norms or processes need to be established to improve effectiveness. Although there’s some need for relationship building, whitewater rafting or “kumbaya activities” don’t serve leadership teams as well as focusing on real issues facing the team.
  6. Leadership team coaching provides processes… for clarifying roles, communication, decision-making, conflict management, meeting rhythms, and organizational structure.
  7. Leadership team coaching provides solutions and improvements in real time rather than taking time out for training and staff retreats.

A manufacturing client of mine had a leadership team established and they were meeting regularly. In their meetings they’d report on stuff, but there’d been no real identification of leadership team goals. They were individuals reporting on individual goals vs a team reporting against common, game-changing, high-level goals. As an outside, 3rd party, I model how to hold people accountable, help them create worthwhile goals that move the biz forward, assign actions, and follow up next time. The team, and therefore the business, is getting momentum, there’s a centralized energy among the managers, and their roller coaster income has stabilized and is trending upwards.

Hawkins has developed successful team disciplines – commissioning, co-creating, connecting, and core learning – required for teams to change. A leadership team coach understands these and will help you put them into practice while helping you solve the daily problems and make the improvements that will drive profits and keep your business moving forward.