Today’s executives face volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) circumstances and are expected to deliver at a higher velocity than ever before. A meaningful vision, strategic clarity, better decision making, the ability to connect deeply and impactful execution are key for today’s leaders.
As an executive coach, I help people understand how our beliefs and the environments we are in, trigger certain responses and behaviours. If we are not fully aware how the environment and our thoughts impact our actions, we don’t realise our potential. I support you to become less reactive to your surroundings and more receptive. I call this acting from a YES state of mind.
A 360 assessment can be part of the intake process usually followed by monthly face to face meetings. Observation during board meetings has proven to be powerful in the coaching process. I’ve learned from the (winning) Olympic sailing coaches to work with you as close to your daily practice as possible and be fully committed to your journey.
I feel inspired in my coaching practice by a few gurus: Irvin D. Yalom, his view on the relationship while coaching, Dr. A.T. Ariyaratne and his view on awakening and (spiritual) development through action, Bernie Glassman’s statement of bearing witness and taking yourself not too seriously, the way Daniel Siegel explains how meditation and dialogue support the brain to evolve and Marshall Goldsmith‘s practical no-nonsense approach to coaching.
Executive Team Coaching
Talking to the Olympic sailors I realised that even at this level of teamwork psychological safety makes the difference. Psychological safety stands for daring to take risks in a team without feeling insecure or embarrased. In a team it’s important that you feel at ease to show yourself. Only then you can together reach your full potential.
Over the years I’ve supported many topteams of organisations. I’ve developed a process that has proven itself. It consists of the following interventions that are not necessarily taken in this order:
- I usually start with an individual intake to get to know each other at a deeper level, including how people respond to feedback. I tend to give feedback early in the process to learn how people react to it. It’s part of creating an atmosphere of trust.
- I’ve found that a team session in which we go deeper into the life experiences of the team members increases the psychological safety. People share 5-7 experiences from the past that have shaped them who they are today. As a coach you need to be a role model and create an atmosphere of trust. Together we formulate the strengths of the team and what may be challenging when realising their task.
- Balancing on- and off-site meeting to work on the team performance works best. Attending and observing team meetings and intervening to clarify the underlying process between the members proves to be helpful. In the actual here and now you see the patterns of a team. These show up in their normal working environment and not so much in a workshop led by consultants.
- Ask members to fill out a questionnaire (based on scientific research) about the roles they tend to take in teams. This is extremely clarifying: members start to understand each other better and each others strengths become clear. We bring clarity by assigning specific roles to individuals aligned with their capacities and added group value.
- After dialogues with the key stakeholders (e.g. Supervisory Board, representatives shareholders) the team formulates their ambition and action plan including the KPI’s. It’s their response to the expectancies of the external world. Usually this is linked to their (long term) strategy plan. This plan needs to be important and meaningful to all.
- The team sets 100 day team development goals for themselves. These we monitor during and at the end of the meetings. In the agenda of meetings we dedicate time to a check-in and a check-out.
- The team outperforms and realises more than they dared to hope for. When teams develop, their task changes over time. This might mean that other capacities are needed. I don’t believe in the idea of ‘never change a winning team.’ In a powerful team culture the individual players can go in and out depending on the challenge at hand.
Some characteristics of highly successful teams:
- Team members realise that they need one another to get the work done.
- Teams hold meetings that they look forward to and leaves them more focused, energised and connected.
- Teams generate new thinking together instead of exchanging thoughts that the members already know.
- Aristotle stressed already that an emergent structure is more than the sum of its parts. The interaction of the parts causes a new higher order. That’s what I’m striving for working with teams.
In this picture some sailors feel comfortable with each other to raise the spinnaker in high winds at the Olympics in Rio. And some don’t…