What is a great team?

    A good team is one that gets the job done.

    A great team is one that gets the job done and has fun at the same time!

    How is a great team different from other teams?

    This question is important in that the answer aims to provide a checklist to identify where you are now as a team and what you need to work on in order to improve.

    • There is a high degree of camaraderie and constructive interaction in a great team.

    • A great team is able to talk about itself as an entity that exists beyond the individual members

    • It is characterised by a clear vision and set of values that helps define the parameters within which the team can be successful

    • The members can speak about the job within their roles and talk to each other as people sharing a common experience, evolving and growing their own lives within it

    • Everyone takes charge of their own arena of expertise and recognises collective responsibility for the overall success of the team

    • Members have an awareness of each other’s strengths and appreciate how this serves the overall team

    • Members express praise and care appropriately

    • There is a degree of flexibility around individual roles

    • Members are aware of what they can do for each other in order to help everyone function at their optimum level

    • Members take the time to check in with each other beyond the working agenda

    How does a good team become a great team?

    • Through recognising and acknowledging the consequences of not listening and communicating effectively and

    • Through holding the belief that things can improve and being willing to do what ever is necessary in order to get there

    What does a team’s identity consist of?

    There are two main aspects to a team’s identity that are relevant here:

    • Different outer roles

    These are task orientated

    • Different inner roles

    These are concerned with the support, regulation, nurturance and well being of the team members

    What does a great team not consist of?

    • Struggle and hardship

    • Loneliness and isolation

    • Selfishness

    • Boredom

    • Negativity

    What are the common challenges that a team needs to overcome?

    The key challenge that every great team faces is in balancing the desire to maintain high standards of service delivery whilst simultaneously creating a working culture that sustains its people in a state of high morale and personal well being.

    How can this be achieved?

    Through regular team meetings that:

    • Clear away any built up emotional residue from normal everyday working practice

    • Maintain clarity around individual roles and strengths and the experience that gives them the right and the authority to lead in this particular role

    • Identify tasks within each role that could be taught in order to improve flexibility within the team

    • Keep the long-term perspective alive! (Who are you becoming and what will the team look like once it has fully matured)

    • Provide the opportunity to share positive stories and knowledge of clients with an intention of getting to know them better so that everyone can be party to building rapport and improving customer relations

    • Create a forum within which the values of the team can be used to guide how the team functions and what it develops and grows into as it evolves

    • Encourage the development of open and honest professional relationships for the sake of people’s morale at work and therefore the quality of service that is being offered to clients and customers.

    • Cultivate the attitude that change is good and is a journey not a sudden upheaval that is imposed on everyone

    • Commit to enjoying work through choosing an attitude of ease whenever possible in terms of the way that things get done as opposed to one of struggle and hardship.

    And by hiring a great coach who can help to cultivate the optimum working culture through:

    • Maintaining high levels of praise and appreciation

    • Encouraging open and honest communication

    • Promoting equal participation

    • Holding the vision and values that: Create the team identity, guide team success, provide clarity of purpose, give a sense of belonging

    • Inspire greatness through continual self-improvement

    • Raising awareness of obstacles and barriers that undermine team success

    • Maintaining balance between inner and outer roles

    • Identifying development needs and providing solutions

    Do all teams require the same amount of intervention?

    Maintaining the balance between the needs of the customers and the needs of the team is always a tricky affaire.

    In my experience the extent to which things have gone out of balance and the nature of that imbalance varies hugely and therefore the quantity and type of intervention varies also.

    If we can consider the intervention process as a form of team upgrading just as you would upgrade a computer to improve its performance, then there are a number of basic tasks that are essential to all successful upgrades.

    How will the members know when the job is done?

    They will be clearer about what is expected of them

    They will feel more fulfilled in their jobs

    They will feel a sense of belonging to something bigger than themselves

    Their relationships with colleagues will have improved

    They will feel valued and appreciated

    They will be happy to come to work

    What form does the intervention take?


    Normally, an existing client recommends a coach to a company owner, team leader or senior employee.

    These two people meet to:

    • Explore the nature of the team and its members

    • Explore why there is a need for intervention.

    • Agree on what kind of intervention is necessary

    • Decide on a strategy of change

    • Design the alliance between coach and primary contact (define the nature of the relationship and state clearly the parameters within which both parties can be successful)

    • Negotiate a realistic timeline

    • Provide costing as far as is possible

    The point to remember at this stage of the process is that once the intervention strategy has begun things can get worse before they get better and it is imperative that trust and commitment to the process of change has been firmly established.

    The successful completion of any intervention strategy cannot be guaranteed without the total support and commitment of the primary contact(s)


    The key players of any company or team have often been driven by a set of values that have been unconsciously influencing decisions, goals and behaviours.

    Whether things are going well or not it is crucial to identify these values and agree on which are essential for the company’s success.

    The company vision is a picture of what the company is becoming beyond the day-to-day work. Often this is not clear and time needs to be spent to make it clear.

    From a practical standpoint these stages of the process are normally carried out away from the workplace in a conference/residential setting, as they require long periods of focused thinking and reflection.


    At some point all members of the team or company will need to be made aware of what is going on and the skilfulness in which this is done is paramount.

    People are fearful of change and the key bridge between the workforce and the leadership is the middle management.

    When the time is right it is important to involve the ‘middle management’ so that they can manage the expectations of the people they are managing and avoid unnecessary anxiety and stress


    At this stage a full day event to demarcate the beginning of the ‘new dawn’ is a skilful method of embracing the team as a whole in the idea of a change.

    This can be done in a playful way by focusing on the achievements of the team thus far and celebrating this success followed by an explanation of the need to develop going forward and the requirements necessary to do this.

    Again, how this day is managed is crucial to the successful unfolding of the process


    This is the point at which the agenda of change is overtly discussed with individual members.

    Here we come to discover who is on board and who is resistant to the change and what can be done about it



    Is it possible to predict the amount of intervention that is needed?

    One of the barriers that can stop this kind of positive intervention work from happening is the fear that once you start it will never finish so its better not to start in the first place.

    People’s perceptions of what a coach can offer a team is all tied up with when things are going wrong and yet this does not have to be the case

    Is it not better to have someone on board who can help prevent things from going wrong in the first place rather than hiring at the stage when ‘all hells broken loose?!

    And, if the ongoing impact is good and beneficial then why should there be an end at all?

    Why not make them a permanent ‘virtual’ member/ strategic partner of the team and design your own ‘emotional support contract’ with them?!

    How will I know if it is working?

    When a company or organisation begins to reflect and consider what impact it really wants to make on the world around it and most importantly on it’s customers it has to ask a number of key questions:

    • What is the purpose of this company’s existence?

    • What are the values that will underpin and guide its development in the world?

    • What is the vision of what this company is becoming in the world?

    • Who are the customers that the company wishes to serve and what do they need?

    • Who are the people who will provide these services and what do they need?

    • On the basis of what it will all cost, is it commercially sustainable?

    The short answer to the question is that the success of the intervention can be measured by the extent to which all members of the company can provide appropriate answers to all of the above.

    The purpose of this kind of work is essentially to facilitate the forging of relationships within the group that promotes a healthy balance between personal freedom and collective responsibility for maintaining effective standards of working practices.

    A healthy organisation is a community of people who experience a sense of belonging, concern and care both for its members and the people it serves.

    Successful intervention acts to deepen this experience through encouraging curiosity around the six questions above.

    As clarity emerges out of this questioning so the consciousness and culture of the organisation begins to form the group identity.

    Do people have to bare their heart and soul for this work to be effective?

    There is a natural fear of the unknown inherent in our society and in many respects this kind of work relies on people being curious and excited about the unknown rather than scared of it.

    Professional training and development work is often equated with fact gathering and information giving and coaching is based in a more experiential form of learning.

    Put another way, a great deal of organisational learning is designed to impact on task competency where as coaching is designed to impact on organisational behaviour.

    The former aims to provide relevant information to enable individuals to do their jobs better and the latter aims to promote insight and personal realisations.

    In terms of whether or not people have to bare their heart and souls or not I can only comment that in my experience, participants of this kind of work are often so excited about the things they start to realise and the ramifications both in terms of their own life and the lives of those around them that they are cannot but help themselves from sharing this news with those that are present witnessing their sudden awakening.

    The rumour and fear around ‘heart and soul disclosure’ relates to this aspect of group coaching and is by no means one that is uncomfortably forced upon people. Rather it is one that people choose to engage in them selves due to a natural desire to communicate to others what they have discovered.

    And, as well, some people choose not to.

    However, it must be said, that as every coach’s secret agenda is to promote more harmonious relationships in the world so that people are happier in all aspects of their lives, it is not surprising that they spend hours and hours engineering the right conditions within which clients will feel safe to open up and connect with others because this is, in their view, the only way that any truly authentic and deep democracy will ever emerge within our organisations and communities.

    When is a team ready for intervention?

    When the job is no longer fulfilling

    When things are going wrong

    And …..  when things are going right and you want to understand why so that you can perpetuate the success.

    Does a coach have to understand the nature of an organisation in order to help effectively?

    The beauty of hiring a coach from the client’s point of view is that you get to talk about your business and the intricacies of your working life at a level that nobody else would be interested in to such a degree!

    The reason for this is that a coach has to have a deep understanding of your world of work in order to communicate with you within it and help you to have things the way you want them to be

    However, most importantly the coach is interested in understanding the system of relationships that the team consists of and how to influence this positively so that it is serving the individuals in it.

    How much does it cost?

    The amount of investment required to achieve chosen goals and objectives will vary depending on the business size and the challenges it is facing.

    Through initial discussions with the client the coach is able to identify and define what areas need improving and why so that some idea of the scope of work can be gained.

    Typically most small to medium companies invest upwards from £1000 per month to improve the leadership and culture aspects of the business.

    This monthly figure will vary depending on what stage or aspect of the ‘improvement process’ is being delivered and the degree of difficulty being experienced in attempting to achieve the desired impact.

    Naturally for larger organisations where the relationship networks are more complex this figure can be significantly higher.

    I personally recommend that whatever the size of your business or organisation, one percent of annual turnover as a minimum guideline is a sensible and realistic investment if you are seriously committed to creating sustainable long term growth through the maintenance of a healthy working culture and ongoing leadership learning and development.

    When is the job complete?

    I find the metaphor of technology most useful in answering this question.

    As with computers, once someone understands your machine and the demands that you put upon it, it is useful to have this knowledge always on standby in case something goes wrong.

    Equally, it is good to have regular checkups to prevent problems in the future.

    In addition, a team’s needs change and so do the demands of the job so having someone there to constantly support and monitor these adjustments is extremely useful.

    In short, if the need for a team coach is recognised in the first place then it will be evident from the customer’s point of view that the job is never done.

    A coach will always be helpful in providing an objective team system perspective within the decision making process of the company.

    Naturally the value of this perspective to the client will be dependent upon the extent to which the coach has  managed to grasp the fundamental purpose of the business and to merge with the team to work out the most powerful and engaging way to communicate it both internally and externally in order to connect up all associated relationship networks.

    These include: the Board, leadership/management teams, departments, service providers, customers, local communities, government agencies.

    Once established these networks need maintaining to prevent the inevitable deterioration of these emotional channels caused by the impact of day to day operational stress and strain.

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