In Blog Articles, Monday Memo


“Systemic Team Coaching” is an approach that Peter Hawkins has developed over the last thirty years with the help of his colleagues. He states that for too long we believed that if team members got on well together and acted as ‘a team’ it would be effective. Interestingly enough, numerous researchers have shown that in fact a group of individuals working alongside each other are more effective than a pseudo team – one that goes through the motions of being a team, but lacks true shared purpose. They have also shown that relating well together is not enough – the three biggest factors in teams creating value are:

  1. That the team has a clear collective purpose and agreed objectives (what he calls the Clarifying Discipline
  2. That these are aligned to the needs of all their stakeholders (Commissioning Discipline)
  3. They all recognise that this can only be achieved by effective team collaboration (Co-creating Discipline).

These three disciplines of high performing teams are the pre-requisites, however; real value is only created when these foundations are converted into transforming the relationships with all the team’s stakeholders (Connecting Discipline). Moreover, it only becomes sustainable if the team is constantly learning and adapting (Core Learning Discipline).

Let me elaborate on these disciplines a little:

  1. Commissioning: For the team to be successful it needs a clear directive on what is required from the stakeholders it serves. This includes a clear purpose and defined success criteria by which its performance as a team will be assessed. It will be for the team’s primary stakeholders (the team it reports into) to define the team’s primary commission and for the team leader / team to negotiate its final terms. In addition, the team’s other stakeholders will have an influence on how the team collectively is expected to perform and the way success will be measured.
  2. ClarifyingHaving ascertained what your stakeholders require, the team needs to jointly clarify how it will execute it. To be effective, they have to create a collective endeavour that is both challenging / compelling / rewarding and can only be achieved by all team members working together.
  3. Co-creating: This discipline focuses on how to achieve more as collective unit rather than as separate individuals. This requires the team to maximise the different skills, experiences, specialisms and styles with the team so it can generate new thinking and actions for the benefit of its stakeholders. (Dealing with any of the 5 dysfunctions of teams that I discussed extensively earlier in the series would fall within this discipline.)
  4. Connecting: The team will only make a difference to the organisation when it collectively connects with all the critical stakeholders it serves. The stakeholders need to be managed effectively in order to achieve the team’s purpose, objectives and commission.
  5. Core Learning:If a team is to make the best of its skills and resources, it needs to take time to reflect on individual and joint performance. It needs to review what it is collectively learning from its successes and failures and how it can use this learning to enhance its performance in the future.

I hope you have found these five disciplines interesting, interesting enough to reflect on how your team is doing in relation to each of them. If you are interested in finding out for real, please contact me as I am able to arrange your team and critical stakeholders doing the Team Connect 360 survey as a way of identifying the problems and strengths of the team in relation to these five disciplines. I am able to offer this at a very reasonable rate.

(I am indebted to the work of Peter Hawkins, of Renewal Associates, especially his book, Leadership Team Coaching, as well as the methodology of Integral Coaching Canada, which I have integrated for purposes of this series and in developing my Systemic Leadership Team Coaching process.

Some of the other books that form a foundation for this series are:

Systemic Team Coaching by John Leary-Joyce and Hilary Lines

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

Team of Teams by S McChrystal et al

Seeing Systems by Barry Oshry

Flawless Consulting by Peter Block

The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook by Peter Senge et al)

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