From my personal coaching experience in Romania, the most important blockage that can occur in the management teams is absence – completely or partial – of a forum, a reflection and dialogue frame on topics such as the challenges they are facing and the individual and team roles they need to take. Team coaching offers a sustained help in overcoming the difficulty of creating and maintaining a climate that encourages interpersonal transparency. And this transparency helps further, in creating an impulse, an energy that no longer belongs to an individual, but it belongs to the entire system of the team, allowing it to collaboratively manifest and to reach above average results.
Working with a management team is truly special and transformative. Of course, if the team aims towards a transformation. The dedication and motivation of the coached team are so important, that without clear proof of involvement and determination the coaching program will stop, maybe even before it begins. It is needed to be understood that the management teams’ purpose is neither the change, nor the orientation towards organizational attitude and collective behavior transformations, but maintaining the status-quo. The most difficult place to do coaching inside of an organization is the management team.
We will now explore another series of difficulties while searching for ways to coach the management team. From my coaching experience on this level, the biggest difficulties come from the coach, not from the team that exists in a state of relative internal equilibrium.
Now I will reveal the three main blockages that a coach faces when working with a management team:
1. Even before the beginning of coaching, things can go completely out of hand if the management teams and directors are not ready to go into a transformative program. As a coach, it is very important not to let yourself thrown directly in front of a team used to disqualifying quickly anything that may seem inadequate to their personal needs. By coaching a lot of Romanian teams, I have discovered that it is fundamental to have a coaching step before the actual coaching begins, in order to settle both your credibility as a coach and the clarity regarding the needs of the team you will work with.
2. Another great blockage is reflected by the impossibility of the coach to own two complementary attitudes necessary for a transformational process: the attitude of positive confrontation and also the one to grant permission and protection. If a coach invited into such a team can’t provoke and simultaneously support the team and their members, the coaching environment will not be sure and open enough and the directors will not be available to go through a transformational process with the coach. I have noticed that almost every time, in the board teams, the actually important issues are rather overlooked, left aside in order not to create discomfort between the members. In addition to that, most of the problems and important decisions are expressed at the limit of the coaching frame: while going out of the meeting room, at the end of a break, before starting a meeting.
3. However, the biggest danger coming from a coach in a professional interaction with a management team is the haziness regarding the competencies, role and also the limits he sets. A coach without the role and the limits well acknowledged and accepted will deeply disrupt the effective functioning of the team. I met dozens of cases in coaching, in Romania, when the directors and the teams were exposed to processes that have done more harm than good. As expected, they resisted with all their strength. Of course, there has been no transformation. Moreover, in most cases, the coach or coaches have tried to sell other products and programs, manipulating in a destructive manner the coaching frame (For example: ‘Coaching doesn’t work for you, we had to do something else before!’).
Accompanying a management team by coaching provokes a coach to know in advance the dynamics of a business, the strategic concerns of the organization and to have a deep understanding of the leaderships’ dynamics and the way the board team functions.