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Coaching Teams Requires Additional Skills Compared to Coaching Individuals

Shared here is a conversation that my clients frequently initiate with me regarding the impact of executive coaching and leadership coaching services. Following, I’ll talk about the complexity of coaching a team compared to coaching an individual. 

My executive coaching clients often express how much coaching has benefited them through helping them honor their past contributions and thinking, challenge their present thinking and actions, and create their future direction and success.


Then they ask, “Can you coach my team too?”

Leaders in organizations use teams more than ever as a means of organizing complex work and accomplishing the goals of their organization. Teams also serve an important employee engagement structure. Shared sense of identity and pride, and a collaborative spirit, foster the creation, advancement, refinement and execution of innovative services and products.

Yet leaders and individual team members often struggle with accomplishing team results. Teams can be fraught with a lack of trust, power struggles, silo mentalities, lack of accountability and poor leadership that zaps the team’s potential to work and achieve its best performance. 

Having helped teams work toward optimal performance for over 25 years, I know one thing is for certain: Coaching a team is more complex than coaching individuals, and it requires an additional set of skills and competence compared to coaching individuals.

In some ways this seems obvious.

If an individual human is complex, then a collection of many individuals as a whole system becomes even more complex.

The complexity of coaching teams has a lot to do with interdependencies; real-time exponential problems. When a single team member is struggling with his or her role, or several individuals struggle to communicate, the team’s direction and productivity can quickly deteriorate. The result is not only frustrating for the team and its leader, but also bad for business. Dysfunction in a team leads to a loss in productivity for their current project and lost opportunity costs for future work.

With all the potential for competing needs and conflict, it’s no surprise teams get messy! 

If you have every worked on or with a dysfunctional team you know what I’m talking about. (One of the reasons why Patrick Lencioni’s Five Dysfunctions of a Team has been a New York Times best seller and why we incorporate The Five Behaviors of a Cohesive Team into our work with clients!)

When we start paying attention to the dynamics of the team and viewing it as a whole system, we can help the team do the same thing. When people start seeing how their actions are interdependent on one another for success, it opens a doorway to new conversations, a first step toward building trust and achieving better results. 

Building and maintaining trust on a team is easier said than done. Coaching a team requires an additional set of competencies, skills and knowledge. A coach must be prepared to help the team leader, the team individuals, and the team as a whole. It’s a challenge but the results are worth it for you, as a coach, and for the teams and organizations who will benefit from your skills.  

In my next blog, I’ll talk about the additional knowledge and skills needed to effectively coach a team compared to coaching individuals. In the meantime, I welcome your thoughts about what was stirred in you when you read this blog.


About the Author

Dr. Laura L. Hauser, MCC, MCEC

Founder, Leadership Strategies International

Dr. Laura Hauser, MCC, MCEC, works with organizational leaders and their teams (and the professionals who support them) to build healthy workplace cultures. She is an internationally-recognized thought leader and researcher in the highly specialized space of team coaching. Using art and science, she teaches, coaches, supervises and consults in a way that expands mindsets and capabilities needed to navigate through disruption. Laura has been honored for her contributions to the coaching profession. She is the developer of the Team Coaching Operating System®, an ACSTH coaching school accredited by the International Coach Federation. Contact Laura by email or on LinkedIn

When referencing this material, please acknowledge the source: ©2020 Dr. Laura L. Hauser, MCC,

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