Coaching has become a critical part of developing high-performing organizations. Coaching individuals requires the ability to home in on the key areas of focus that will enable them to grow, develop and manage through change. However, there is a more complex dynamic at play when it comes to coaching teams, whose members have different motivations and skill sets. Three key areas of focus where a team coach must be effective are leading change, communication strategy, and developing and growing the team.

As a solution, coaching through teaming:

  • Helps the organization successfully meet the challenges that come with an ever-changing business landscape.
  • Requires a commitment to putting a new game strategy in place.
  • Demands that the organization reflect social and economic trends.

Embracing and Leading Change in an Organization

There is an important distinction between coaching and leading: A coach is always a leader, but a leader is not always a coach. A leader — whether it is the owner, the CEO or a managing partner — might introduce teaming to their organization and provide the resources and infrastructure to support it. They may lead by example in using the elements of teaming but may designate the role of coach to another person in the organization. Sports teams are a great analogy; the owner is not the same person as the head coach, but both are responsible for vision and leadership.

The coach is the person who leads change and the glue that keeps the team in place. He or she helps define the vision, develop the team roster and provide guidance throughout the teaming process. In an organization, it could be the sales manager or the chief operating officer, or it could be a professional coach whom the organization has brought on board to assist in the change. What’s important is designating one person for the role.

The coach must possess the skills necessary to lead both the talent on the team and the change that will define it.

The rate of change will continue to accelerate over time. This reality applies to all businesses, whether they embrace teaming or not. Additionally, teaming is a concept based on change. Business, like sports and life, constantly changes. The game never ends, and the game is change.

Commitment to Game Strategy

The next step to embracing change is to put a new game plan in place and ensuring there are resources and infrastructure available to support it. An important technique the team coach can use to do so is to create a playbook with a defined set of rules that will help him or her successfully lead the organization through the changes and challenges to come. The teaming playbook provides the coach with guidelines to build empowered teams with improved productivity and collaboration, resulting in business growth and financial reward.

When change arrives — in the form of anything from new technology to new laws or new consumer preferences — it can disrupt a business’ core competencies. Organizations are forced to rethink their business strategies and, at times, rebuild their cultures from scratch. The game changes, and organizations and coaches need to remain flexible and fluid. A commitment to teaming is the best strategy to capitalize on available resources and infrastructure to make change a competitive advantage.

Guiding Team Development

A core component of teaming is to continually teach the fundamentals of the game so that each player is fully prepared to fulfill his or her role on the team and has clarity on all aspects of the game plan. The team must review these fundamentals on a regular basis.

The most critical role of a coach in teaming is his or her relationship with each team member. In sports and in business, a coach plays a significant role in bringing out the best in each player. Without a great coach, the best players would not reach greatness. Great teams are made not of great players but of players working together to make it great.

A good coach understands the fundamental skill sets required for the team and insists on their application on a regular basis. He or she must also empower everyone to make good decisions and view mistakes as learning opportunities, not reasons for a bad review. Empowering team members to make decisions also fosters an environment of excellent communication. It is one of the best ways an organization can begin to benefit from rapid change.

Another valuable use of the playbook is to communicate the company’s vision, goals, roles and responsibilities, rules of engagement, marketing plan, and compensation plan. When the coach empowers team members, helps them know the fundamentals of their roles, and acknowledges their impact on the team, coaching becomes a competitive advantage in leading a high-performance organization.

The Attack of the M-bombers

Most organizations will agree that when undergoing change, there are always m-bombers . The “M” stands for metathesiophobia, which is the fear of change. M-bombers do not like anything in their environment to change. When they experience change, they usually don’t take personal responsibility for responding to it.

We all know that change can be daunting, and in some respects, m-bombers, especially those who have been in their businesses for years and have enjoyed success, make a fair point when they ask, “Why fix something that ain’t broke?” The coach responds by telling them that the change is necessary in order to grow, expand and stay competitive. Sometimes, the old ways and the new ways can’t mix. When trying to build a cohesive team with a common goal, resistance to change is resistance to success.

M-bombers are typically easy to identify at the beginning of a change initiative. However, a few will slowly reveal themselves, and they may catch the coach off guard and test his or her resilience. The question is whether it is possible to successfully encourage m-bombers to play by the new rules of the game. The answer: is that some will change when the pain of staying the same becomes greater than the pain of changing (that is, losing their jobs.)

This development is the responsibility of the coach. The best players don’t make the best team; the best team makes the players better.