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Four Roles and Outcomes of a Highly Effective Team Coach


If you’ve ever been on a corporate retreat involving scary “trust falls” that left you considering your colleagues in a less-than-trustful light, I have good news: there are better ways to become a productive team! Team coaching is a form of evidence-based organizational work, NOT vague “team building.”

We all want to work on, or lead, a team that operates like a team should (and if you want a building block, having a Team Innovation Workshop is a great first step!) but if your team is suffering from an absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability, and/or inattention to results then team coaching could be a solution you are looking for.

Previously we have discussed the difference between team coaching and group coaching and the different skills needed to transfer the benefits of coaching from the individual level to the team level, now I want to talk about why team coaching is transformative in a unique way, and how it differs from team building and facilitation.

Part of the change I have witnessed in organizations all over the world is a transition to team-based structures in order to gain competitive advantage in the knowledge economy. While teams have huge advantages this transition brings with it a new set of challenges. All relationships take work and in a team setting those complexities can present roadblocks.

When coaching teams a coach inhabits at least four explicit roles: advisor, educator, catalyzer, and assimilator. Each of these roles is pointed towards a specific outcome: team coordination, team learning, team cohesion, and team transition.

Team coordination is the foundation of a successful team. The team must clarify their roles, performance tasks, and how they interact. The team needs to define what it high performance will look like, including tasks and structure.

Team learning and team cohesion are the next steps and a good coach can be an essential part of these two pieces because cohesion means working through conflict negotiation, problematic group dynamics, and confusing organizational hierarchies. A strong coach can help a team navigate this in order to become that high performing team they envision and need.

The final step is transitioning a team to a place where they operate as high performers who know their roles, can recognize their achievements and can synthesize what they have learned through the process.

When I see teams operating at low efficiency and low performance I see the opportunity for a team of high performers who work together, hold each other accountable, and achieve the results they need to.

A facilitator or team builder might have a portion of these roles or results in mind, but for maximum effectiveness team coaches shape and shift their roles for specific outcomes. Want to learn more? Read our ground-breaking research that revealed these four roles and outcomes of team coaching.

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