Do You Need Leadership Development? Team Coaching May Be The Answer (Ontario Ministry Case Study)
Recently, I was called in by a Deputy Minister in the Ontario Public Service and his assistant to support an organizational change initiative. It soon became apparent that what they thought they needed – traditional leadership development – was not going to be as effective as long-term team coaching. The team coaching model would allow them to delve deeper into the critical dimensions of what made an effective team.
The work began with structured interviews with each team member. These assessments gave information about the team member as well as their perceptions of how well the team was doing. A picture began to emerge of strengths and areas for development. The interviews also gave the coach an opportunity to develop trust with each team member.
The team then participated in a two day off site training session. The findings from the interviews were shared and then the work began to have them identify critical areas that needed to be addressed and develop an action plan for change implementation. My role was observing how they worked through critical issues. These observations would form the backbone of the skill training that followed the retreat.
All of the development was done in the context of real work. I observed how they worked on a day-to-day basis noting where they were effective. Skill development areas were then identified, focusing on:
- How to foster more collaborative relationships
- How to use conflict in a productive way (Having discussions about difficult topics)
- How to keep conversations meaningful and focussed (Avoiding circular conversations and knowing the purpose of the conversation before it begins)
- Developing trust between team members (Increasing trust levels)
- Choosing effective decision making models
The decision-making team coaching model was particularly interesting as team members learned when they needed to be part of the decision or when they could trust that other team members to make decisions on behalf of the whole team. I reminded them that it did not take team consensus to decide who would turn off the lights when leaving the room.
After the intensive off site coaching, the team was reconvened in weekly sessions of three hours. The coach attended every other sessionand in the intervening week spent an hour with the team leader helping him acquire the skills to be able to coach his own team post-engagement.
The process took nine months to complete and after that contracted time was finished, there is still continued communication with the team leader. A sign of both his commitment to continuing his own learning, and an acclamation of the relationship that had been established between us.