NASA has renewed the contract to provide executive coaching services across the national space agency. ‘NASA’ exemplifies team spirit and team work (I’m reminded of the inspiring story of ‘the janitor also working to put Man on the moon’). And with NASA’s aforementioned decision, the relevance of executive coaching for leadership teams, or team coaching for leaders, has been validated yet again. 

And as Google’s Schmidt says, Everyone needs a Coach. In large organizations like NASA (the largest space agency in the world), team coaching for leaders is highly advantageous. If your organization is like NASA, where the stakes are high and smooth functioning is paramount, then the scope for error is non-existent. This requires executive teams to work together as a highly cohesive unit. But the leaders themselves require support to build high-performing teams. This is where a leadership coach/executive coach can play a pivotal role.

What is team coaching for leaders?

In team coaching for leaders, a leadership or executive coach assesses the team dynamics and works on improving that. They typically partner with the leadership team as a whole and/or individually to identify & address limitations and discover & leverage strengths.

Challenges addressed by team coaching leadership teams

    • Trust issues
    • Clash of different personalities & perspectives
    • Tendency to prioritize individual goals over organizational goals
    • Turf protectionism and tussles
    • Complicated intra-team dynamics

Benefits of Team Coaching For Leaders

1) An executive coach or leadership coach can increase the leaders’ self-awareness, helping them identify their goals, priorities, motivations, prejudices, strengths, and limitations, and see how they can be aligned or leveraged to achieve organizational goals. 

2) Team coaching leaders can build trust between team members. This would improve psychological safety, enabling all team members to participate freely. 

3) When heads of different divisions come together for collective decision-making, it is a natural tendency for each to seek options that would benefit their turf. Many times this goes against the organizational good. Team coaching leaders can get them to think as an organization head and not just the head of their division.

4) Team coaching leaders is highly beneficial to aid leadership teams identify and set SMART goals for the team. 

5) Many organizations initiate team coaching for leadership teams with constant internal conflicts. A coach can enable leaders to get to the root of the trouble and devise ways to resolve them holistically.

6) Team coaching enables leaders to develop a coaching mindset themselves. This helps them to work with team members smoothly and coach their employees. 

I once coached the leadership team of an automobile organization. The organization wanted to expand sales, but a difference of opinion within the leadership team hindered them. The customer service head was not for the sales expansion. He had valid reasons but was playing too safe. In our individual coaching session, I asked him to identify customer service issues, outline his vision for the organization, and the steps to reach there. The coaching conversation revealed to him that the solution to customer service issues, and realizing his vision was the same – increase sales! The customer service head now fully supported the sales expansion plan.

Selecting the right coach for team coaching leadership teams

Becoming a coach is not for everyone. It requires a coaching mindset. And among those who can coach, not all are cut out for effective team coaching leadership teams. Even amongst seasoned executive and leadership coaches, few make good team coaches. It requires developing trust in team members, a keen understanding of team dynamics, and gauging the right coaching strategies to apply. So selecting an executive/leadership coach with prior experience team coaching leadership teams would be advisable.

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