Home Tools and Applications Team Coaching Teaching Leaders to Coach Teams

Teaching Leaders to Coach Teams

13 min read

Paul Lawrence

Principal, Centre for Coaching in Organisations

Many senior team leaders … want their team members to take more responsibility, but don’t fully realize that this first requires a major shift in their own style of leadership. Peter Hawkins (1)

Coaching is increasingly recognized as a fundamental leadership skill, required across the board if organizations are to succeed in getting the most from their people, in encouraging people to collaborate effectively, and in creating the kind of environment needed to foster innovation and extraordinary performance. More and more organizations are teaching their leaders how to coach, but the focus tends to be on coaching individuals. What about training leaders to coach their teams?

Team Coaching is Important

Peter Hawkins suggests that team coaching is 30 years behind individual coaching in terms of common definitions, research and training. This resonates with our own experience. In a recent piece of research, we found a wide range of different activities being practiced under the banner of team coaching (2). Few of the coaches we interviewed had undertaken formal training specific to coaching teams. However, we define team coaching, external coaches tell us it’s tough, and many choose not to coach teams, restricting their practice to coaching individuals. But while external coaches can choose whether or not to coach teams, the leader-as-coach doesn’t have that option. If a leader has direct reports and she believes that she will need to coach them as a team in order to maximize their collective performance, then she must learn to be a team coach (3). The need for leaders to develop the capacity to coach teams is echoed in the literature. For example, Hunt & Weintraub (4) suggest that the leader-as-coach, coaching individuals, often needs to adopt a two-pronged approach that includes intervening at the team level. Peter Hawkins points out how tiring it is for the team leader being stuck in a pattern of being the one who sets the direction, being the channel through which all conversation is directed, and being the mediator whenever team members have issues with each other.

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One Comment

  1. Roz Kay

    March 26, 2021 at 12:45 am

    I found this article interesting and shared the link with students in an online degree program. My main role is that of executive coach and what you have written seems to capture what I experience and hear from clients.


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