On Transformational & Systemic Leadership Team Coaching

December 30, 2015




“Not finance. Not strategy. Not technology. It is teamwork that remains the ultimate competitive advantage, both because it is so powerful and so rare”

                                                                                                          - Patrick Lencioni


Already in 2008, the Center for Creative Leadership published a whitepaper on “Senior Leadership Team Coaching”


Let me quote:


“The senior leadership team is arguably the most important group in any organization. They have the most overt power. Their decisions have implications for everyone else in the organization as well as for the future of the organization itself. Many people strive for admittance to that elite table. And yet the executive leadership team is often poorly resourced to accomplish its tasks. Members are selected because of their functional responsibilities or included because they “must not be left out,” so the assurance that they are really equipped to operate as the “Enterprise Team” cannot be assumed. In this brief, we will review what these groups have to do and what they need. We will consider why senior leadership team coaching might be important for their success and raise some cautions for those who would like to work in the field.”


Now more than ever, organizations are looking at how to motivate and manage their leadership teams in a period of change and uncertainty. The time is there in the coaching market to differentiate Systemic & Transformational Team Coaching from other forms of team or group development.


Stakeholder engagement, internally and externally as well as attention to the wider environmental context adds to the richness and complexity. Coaching at this level is the hallmark of highly effective team coaching.


Systemic and Transformational Team Coaching is based on the 5 disciplines of Team Performance (Source: Peter Hawkins – Leadership Team Coaching, 2nd edition).



In this VUCA world, the challenges for Leadership Teams are the following:

  • Managing expectations of all the different stakeholders

  • Running and transforming the business in parallel

  • Increasing need to develop capacity for working through systemic conflict

  • Living with multiple memberships

  • Complex and interconnected world(s)

  • The growth of virtual working


No longer do the main challenges in organizations lie in the people or in the parts but in the interfaces and relationships between people, teams, functions and different stakeholder needs.


Are Leadership Teams ready to respond?


No single leader can any longer meet the demands placed on them and there is a growing recognition of the need for highly effective Leadership Teams.

Teams have so much more potential than individuals to rise to the growing current and future challenges that face all organizations, and is increasingly recognized in many areas.


But are Leadership Teams ready to respond? 


Peter Senge said: “It is amazing how often you come across teams with an average intelligence of over 120, but the team functions at a collective intelligence of about 60.”


So if the world needs more highly effective Leadership Teams, and the challenges and hurdles they have to overcome are getting even greater, we need to explore what can be done to support the development of such teams, as well as their leaders and their team members.


In a series of research projects Peter Hawkins conducted into best practice in leadership development, they found it was best when it was:

  • Real time

  • Behaviorally transformative

  • Relational

  • Involving real stakeholders perspectives

  • Including unlearning


So what is transformational & systemic leadership team coaching?


Transformational leadership team coaching focuses not only on how the team want to run their business, but also how they will transform their business. There is bi-focal attention: on the current performance, and on how they are leading the transformation.


Peter Hawkins defines systemic team coaching as follows: “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 to 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”


How can we operate as a Performance Partner in transformational & systemic leadership team coaching?


  • Coaching the team in discovering the explicit and implicit commission and their underlying needs

  • Helping the team clarify their mission and strategy and work out the steps to get there

  • Help the team to move from an emphasis on exchanging updates and information to generate new collective thinking that produces insight and business foresight that can add value to the organization

  • Help the team to add value to customers and stakeholders

  • Facilitating reviews, exploring what has worked, what has been difficult and what could be better


Team coaching can be adapted for management, project, virtual, international, account teams, networks, partnerships and boards.


As in life, finding and selecting the right coaching partner is only the first step in a successful relationship. Right from the beginning it is important that the team and their coach build in regular reviews to the team coaching process. These reviews need to look back at the starting contract, measure progress and reflect on what has been most and least helpful and what has enabled or blocked progress.


                         - Source: Peter Hawkins – Leadership Team Coaching, 2nd edition


With Konsensus LC&D and oxygen4leadership we have developed a transformational & systemic leadership development program,  both for individual executives and for leadership teams. Feel free to contact us if you want to find out how this program can boost your Leadership Team.