Developing the collective intelligence of the team

Coaching provides leadership teams with an environment in which they can make progress with issues that otherwise feel elusive or hard to address. Such issues typically include organisational challenges that have a sense of 'stuckness' or complexity to them; ones where previous attempts at a solution may have failed to deliver hoped-for results. These might relate to the performance and functioning of the team itself; or a requirement to develop a different leadership style in the wider business; or a need to embed organisational change.

Such issues present individual leaders and teams with the need to see from a different perspective, to re-frame their understanding of the problems, and to look beyond established 'technical' solutions. A major difficulty here is that the success most leaders achieve, at least early on in their careers, is through the quality of their technical leadership, this being the application of established expertise to problem solving. Complex organisational and cultural issues however require leaders to develop their capacity for adaptive leadership*. Such leadership recognises that change is required at the core of what people are doing, feeling, and thinking; that such change cannot be achieved simply be dictating it, or by calling in an expert.

So how does team coaching help? It does so by bringing to light what is currently out of sight; by providing a language and a depth of insight that enables the team to identify real underlying issues; by recognising how these issues are systemic or interconnected, requiring an integrated response; and by providing the support and security that the team needs to deal with things that in all truth it might be easier and more comfortable to avoid.

*For more on adaptive leadership, see Heifetz and Laurie (2001); Harvard Business Review: The Work of Leadership