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10 Team Coaching Do’s and Don’ts

Team coaching is different from one-to-one leadership coaching in a number of ways, as will become increasingly apparent as we look at these team coaching do’s and don’ts. One significant difference is the complexity of interactions taking place.

We can use a model, such as the seven-eyed model, to describe interactions in a one-to-one coaching conversation. Here we consider what is happening internally for the coach, internally for the coachee, the relationship between the coach and coachee, the interventions the coach is making, and what is happening in the broader context.

Now consider this with a team of perhaps eight to ten people. Not only are these interactions happening multiple times for the coach, but also for each of the team members with each other. This creates a web of significantly more complex interactions than one-to-one coaching. That helpfully leads us to the first of our 10 team coaching do’s and don’ts.

Number 1: Do Have Two Coaches

When a team has two people coaching, it allows one person to focus on different observations from the other and also for one person to focus on the team, their reactions, what is said, what is not said. The number and complexity of human interactions in a team coaching scenario mean that having two people is far more effective.

Number 2: Do Contract Team Coaching With the Team Leader

The coach and the team leader need to meet beforehand to contract together and set expectations. It is important that the leader creates psychological safety for the team and leads by example without creating bias in the team's conversations.

Number 3: Do Establish a Focus for Team Coaching

It is important to begin with a focus for coaching, such as: is this a team or a group? Do we have a shared purpose? How are we influenced, and how do we influence the system we are in? How does this team learn together? What are our internal processes, and how do they impact the team? How are our relationships, and how do we deal with conflict?

Number 4: Do Interview the Team Members

By interviewing team members, it is possible to discover precisely how the team is operating and what the issues or concerns are. Sometimes, we ask, “What is the one thing that I need to know about this team?”

Number 5: Do Allow a Time for Uninterrupted Talking

As Nancy Kline outlines in her book, “Time to Think”, consider having a round of feedback from each team member where they cannot be interrupted. This allows the team member speaking to think clearly and say everything that they want to say. It also allows other team members to give their full attention in the knowledge that they do not have to think about their next interjection.

Number 6: Don’t Have a Fixed View of the Outcome

That is not to say there is no overall higher-level outcome that needs to be achieved, but it does mean that the steps taken towards that strategic goal are open to discussion.

Coaching often provides an emerging picture, and part of the excitement is not knowing the exact process or steps the team will discover together.

Number 7: Don’t Team Build, Train, or Consult

Team coaching is not team building, training, or consulting. David Clutterbuck says team coaching is “Helping the team improve performance, and the process by which performance is achieved, through reflection and dialogue”.

Meanwhile, Peter Hawkins says it is “A process of coaching the whole team together and apart over a designated period of time to enable it to align common purpose, collaborate and learn across diversity, develop collective leadership, achieve performance objectives, engage with key stakeholders and transform the wider business.”

Number 8: Don’t Think Short Term

The advantage of team coaching is providing a coaching dialogue that addresses the deeper issues and can revisit them over a more extended period. Change takes time; to embed change requires revisiting the problems many times.

Number 9: Don’t Let Tasks Dominate

Task completion converts to our current performance; it does not create future performance capability and capacity. Even so, task completion can dominate our time, effort and resources to the expense of relationship building and learning. There is more on this in our blog, “5 reasons to invest in team coaching”. Carve out time for learning and team coaching.

Number 10: Don’t Hold Back

An interesting question is, “What have you held back from saying in the last three months that you wish you had said?” Developing a culture where no one is holding back and everything is out in the open is essential.


This blog has explored 10 team coaching do’s and don’ts. If you are interested in exploring how we at The Leadership Coaches can support you in delivering team coaching for your leadership teams, get in touch and further the conversation with our qualified accredited and experienced team coaches.

Written by Ian at The Leadership Coaches


“7-eyed model of supervision”, by ICCS

What is Psychological Safety, by Psychological Safety

Time to Think, by Nancy Kline


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