Revolutionizing Leadership Development with Systemic Team Coaching

Coaching the “systems” within teams helps build a psychologically safe space for individuals and groups with measurable goals aligned to organizational needs.

In the evolving landscape of leadership development, the demand for innovative strategies has become imperative, as traditional approaches often fall short of delivering sustained impact. Let’s explore the transformative realm of Systemic Team Coaching and the SPEED coaching model. Providing practical insights and a comprehensive understanding, this guide aims to equip leaders with the tools to navigate organizational complexities and enhance their leadership skills.

A Changing Landscape Elicits the Need for New Programs

Performance metrics from one-on-one coaching are advertised to elicit 40 to 60 percent improvement, even though such calculations are hardly defensible. Correlating coaching to individual returns of coached leaders through salary increases or company-wide bonus payouts are not statistically significant. The carry-over effect of coaching on the organization is rarely direct or directly measurable.

Coaching is not about problem solving or providing solutions in the consultative sense. In authentic leadership coaching, coaches evoke self-awareness to help clients realize their shortcomings and come up with solutions. The desired outcomes are almost always behavioral and not measurable through financial or quantitative measures.

A large part of corporate leadership development programs center around training. Evidence shows that vertical skill training has retention rates of less than 10 percent after two months, despite excellent participant ratings of the training programs. This traditional approach also has been criticized for potential gaps in addressing real-world applications, and the need for more dynamic and adaptable learning approaches in rapidly changing environments. Facilitated sessions and group work do not fare much better when the leadership development issues are behavioral-based. Scientifically, any behavioral shift requires neuroplastic changes, which require anchoring through consistent practice and follow-up sessions for several months.

Bridging the Gap Between Learning and Practical Application

Several studies show that teamwork is important to organization development as an affirmation of Kurt Lewin’s seminal organizational development work. Studies by Google through Project Aristotle and work by Patrick Lencioni showed what is needed to develop high-performing teams and executives. The basic co-aligned factors are psychological safety, mutual trust, and measurable goals, plus a meta objective that is structured to organizational needs.

Reframing Executive Leadership Development for Measurable Benefits

Building on these insights and drawing from industry best practices, the ideal Systemic Team Coaching model as an executive leadership development approach offers four tangible and demonstrable benefits:

  1. Measurable quantitative financial performance as contracted.
  2. Development of teams, which are the muscle of any organization.
  3. Measuring leadership competencies of emotional intelligence, wellness orientation, collaboration, psychometrically.
  4. Lower cost to the organization as compared to individual coaching, through reduced hours.

SPEED Coaching Model to Uplevel Organizational Effectiveness

The SPEED Coaching Model of Systemic Team Coaching is based on lessons learned from high-performance team studies referred to earlier, supported by the client-centric coaching principles of Carl Rogers, the Appreciative Inquiry approach of David Cooperrider, and Otto Scharmer’s Theory U model of moving from Unaware Absencing to Aware Presencing. Companies that use the SPEED coaching model have experienced all the benefits outlined above. The SPEED coaching model is a simple five-step process applied for 12-plus months depending on client needs. The best use of this model is with a senior leadership team charged with a well-defined performance objective critical to organizational growth.

The application of the SPEED coaching model with senior leadership tasked with a critical project starts with a thorough understanding of the organization’s pain points and desired outcomes. This is achieved through multiple levels of discussion, along with employee culture surveys and interviews with individual leaders who form the team. The approach is systemic because the organizational needs are aligned with team actions and individual accountability.

This contracted agreement with leadership on the goals for the organization, team, and individuals is followed by teamwork. This comprises five steps:

  1. Share strengths and passions vulnerably to bond emotionally as a team.
  2. Produce a collaborative co-created vision aligned to organizational need.
  3. Explore options to journey from current reality to co-created vision.
  4. Establish time-lined action plans with individual and collective accountability as a dashboard.
  5. Discover and develop the power of the team through monthly team coaching sessions over 12 months of progression on the dashboard’s action points.

There will be cases of some leaders requiring individual coaching, which can be evaluated and carried out in a more scientific observational manner during the team coaching journey.

The Way Forward

The systemic team approach is essential for leading change. Companies have realized that teams are critical to bond individuals collaboratively to common co-created organizational goals that work for all, and that teams need to be developed through a planned process of emotional bonding with safety and trust, leading to individual and organizational wellness. There is a much greater appreciation and acceptance of team coaching methodologies now, with reputed coach accreditors establishing team coaching competencies to help training institutions develop more capable team coaches.

In time, artificial intelligence (AI) can significantly bridge the gap between Systemic Teamwork and individual coaching with hyper-personalization. SPEED coaching has been developed as a process-based model, lending itself to AI enabling it to expand the range and power of the coach.

In summary, the Systemic Team Coaching model, emphasizing collaboration and co-creation, offers a promising avenue for enhancing leadership skills and organizational performance. Systemic Team Coaching at leadership levels has more cost-effective and organizational development potential than individual coaching. Individual on-demand coaching producing shifts in personal leadership behavior does not result in organizational development unless it is combined with Systemic Team Coaching. The recognition of systemic challenges and the potential for AI to refine coaching methodologies foreshadow a future where leadership development embraces holistic, collaborative, and adaptive practices. This paradigm shift contributes to the development of high-performance teams, aligning with evolving leadership expectations in today’s complex business environment.

Ram S. Ramanathan, MCC, MP, BCC
As founder and mentor coach, Ram S. Ramanathan, MCC, MP, BCC brings an accomplished 45-year career to Coacharya. He is responsible for creating all proprietary coaching models for the company. Ramanathan held C-suite leadership positions for 25-years during which he turned around companies; helped a billion-dollar conglomerate; supervised multinational joint ventures; advised the governments of Indonesia and Singapore; angel invested/incubated technology start-ups; and consulted family businesses, small-to-medium enterprises, and nonprofit institutions. As a leadership development coach, Ramanathan works with groups and individuals on teambuilding; alignment of cultural values; co-creation of vision to action plans; strategic performance issues of engagement; and coping with volatility, uncertainty, complexity, and ambiguity (VUCA).