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How Systemic Team Coaching Supports Leaders as They Shift to Building High Value-Creating Teams

A volatile, complex, fast-changing world demands that leadership teams look beyond the narrow lens of “better company performance” and strive to create greater value for all the stakeholders they serve. That’s easy to say, but not so easy to do.

To meet this challenge, organizations need to adopt new mindsets and new ways of working together. That’s why the true innovators in every industry are moving from the outdated model of High Performing Teams to a focus on building and supporting High Value-Creating Teams—groups of leaders that create holistic, sustainable value for stakeholders across their entire ecosystem (as explored in Part 1 of this series).

Making that shift requires organizations to support their leadership teams in entirely different ways. Many are finding that Systemic Team Coaching provides the best path forward.

What Makes Systemic Team Coaching Unique

Systemic Team Coaching is a relatively new concept born out of a need to better support leaders as they work to transform their businesses in the face of incessant economic, geopolitical, demographic, technological, and societal disruption. Unlike traditional team building (which tends to focus on building relationships within the team) or group coaching (coaching individual leaders in a group setting), Systemic Team Coaching focuses on developing and supporting the leadership team as a cohesive unit.

  • There are three elements of Systemic Team Coaching that make it unique and distinct from the traditional coaching models many organizations are familiar with:
  • The coach works with the team as an entity—both when team members are together and when they are apart. The goal is to improve how the team performs as a collective entity and how each member contributes to the team’s mission and goals once back in their own domain, leading their respective business units and direct reports.
  • The coach helps the team better engage with all the stakeholders the organization impacts, with a goal of creating value that is relevant for each. This approach stands in stark contrast to methodologies that focus solely on helping teams achieve internally-focused performance objectives.
  • The coach takes a holistic view of the process, approaching it through six lenses that extend from the individual, to interpersonal, team dynamics, the team’s mission and intent, its interfaces with stakeholders, and the wider systemic environment.

Turning the Systemic Team Coaching Concept into Action

The Systemic Team Coaching process is a journey that follows a team through the 5 Disciplines of High Value-Creating Teams—from defining the team’s purpose (Commissioning), to agreeing on its chief endeavor (Clarifying), working together to create greater value (Co-Creating), engaging with stakeholders (Connecting), and applying key learnings (Core Learning).

A Systemic Team Coach supports the team at every phase of its journey through these disciplines, but invariably finds certain disciplines present greater opportunities for growth and improvement for a given team. In fact, one of the coach’s first tasks is to gather information and look for patterns that indicate such opportunities, typically by observing the team’s interactions during its regular business meetings, asking stakeholders how they view the team’s effectiveness, and asking the team to assess its own behaviors and processes.

This initial discovery helps bring to light the team’s greatest challenges by raising questions about how it’s currently functioning within each discipline. For example:

  • In the Clarifying phase: Is the team struggling to focus on the most important strategic objectives, because it’s reacting to a constant barrage of new crises? Is the team too inwardly focused, losing sight of the broader ecosystem the organization operates within and the need to create value throughout it?
  • In the Co-Creating phase: Is the team challenged to run productive meetings that focus on specific objectives and move actions forward? Do they have trouble communicating with each other in ways that motivate, align, enthuse, and build trust? Do they have difficulty making sound decisions fast and with agility, while reducing risk and incorporating every team member’s viewpoints and input? 
  • In the Connecting phase: Does the team have a good sense of what the various stakeholders expect of the organization and how those expectations are evolving? Is the team leveraging its diverse views and experiences to achieve more for stakeholders than any given team member could on its own?
  • In the Core Learning phase: Are team members proliferating the value-creation model within their own teams by coaching their direct reports on this approach? Are they learning to spot issues within their own domains that might actually bubble up as macro-level problems the team should address as a whole? Are they keeping a constant eye on the rapidly changing environment the organization operates within and responding accordingly?

With a firm understanding of how the team functions in its current state, the Systemic Team Coach then helps the group leverage each discipline to arrive at a better future state—guiding them to diagnose and solve problems in the context of a broader ecosystem, explore and experiment with new ideas, and agree on actions that support the greater goal of creating value for every stakeholder the organization impacts.

In the future we’ll explore real-world examples of Systemic Team Coaching at work across each of the 5 Disciplines of High Value-Creating Teams.

The Leadership Advisory Practice at Odgers Berndtson helps organizations discover and develop leaders, strengthen value-creating teams, and prepare for what’s next. Learn how our highly experienced team of assessors and coaches use a holistic approach to help your organization achieve more.

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