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Earlier this week I attended a 3-day intensive Systemic Team Coaching Certificate Training Program on January 18-20 with Professor Peter Hawkins! The event was sponsored by the Team Coaching Zone (hosted by Dr. Krister Lowe) and took place at The Columbia University Club in New York City. It was great to experience a high-engagement learning event with a number of alumni of the Columbia Coaching Program; faculty of the program; as well as many current and former alumni from various programs @ Teachers College, Columbia University--of the 35 attendees, about 1/2 were connected with Columbia University in one way or another. In addition, this was a great opportunity to be with others with a passion for the important work of Team Coaching.

The program not only expanded my understanding of team coaching, importantly, it triggered many valuable insights that I believe can benefit various teams associated with Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence (CCCOE) - for that reason, I wanted to capture my reflections while they are fresh - so here we go!

A Bit of Context - The Coaching Program Started with an Idea...

Shortly after joining the faculty @ Teachers College in the Fall of 2006, I learned that the department of Organizational and Leadership offered a number of graduate level courses in coaching (e.g., Prep for Coaching; Executive Coaching Theory and Practice; Using Assessments in Coaching; and Action Learning Coaching). At the same time, I discovered all of the flagship programs offered by the Executive Education Division of the Columbia Business School included a coaching component. These factors combined with the increased popularity of coaching as a leadership and organizational development intervention prompted me to convene a group of Columbia Faculty and Administrators to explore the prospects of leveraging our assets to strive to position our university as a leader in the executive and organizational coaching space. The result of this series of strategic conversations was the creation of The Columbia Coaching Center of Excellence, that would comprise of 3-entities: (1) Professional Coach Preparation Programming; (2) Alumni Association; and (3) Talent Alliance!

Conceptually, Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence (CCCOE) was conceived as a "state-of-mind" vs. a physical place or rigid organizational structure. CCCOE is committed to excellence in the areas of research, knowledge dissemination, and the creation of evidence-based practices; collectively intended to forward the art and science of executive and organizational coaching. Founded as King's College by royal charter of King George II of England in 1754, Columbia University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York and the fifth oldest in the United States. Today Columbia enjoys a rich tradition of academic and research excellence with over 82 Columbians—including alumni, faculty, adjunct faculty, researchers and administrators—have won a Nobel Prize in multiple disciplines; combined with the financial stability afforded with its endowment that exceeded 9 billion in 2015. A partnership between the Department of Organization and Leadership, along the Executive Education Division of the Columbia Business School, commissioned Dr. Terrence E. Maltbia to engage in a series of activities to transform this vision to reality starting with the creation of a coaching program, which would in time provide a foundation for offering custom-talent development solutions to organizations. From its inception CCCOE would consists of three major components, The: 

Columbia Coaching Programs (CCPs)--we launched the year long certification program during the Fall of 2006. Our 16th cohort started the program in November of 2015, marking over 670 participants completing the front-end 5-day residential segment of the program (i.e., 60% via our External Coach Intensive | 40% via our Internal Coach Intensive), over 330 completing the entire year long program, with nearly 100 participants in process, from over 50 countries around the world. CCP has provided a solid foundation for build an alumni organization, the 2nd component of Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence. During FY2016, the university plans to commission a team to design the 2.0 version of the coaching program to launch during the Fall of 2016;

Columbia Coaching Learning Association (CCLA)--while a hand full of graduates had worked to create an alumni association since the first cohort; sparked by the need to formalize to co-sponsor Columbia's First International Coaching Conference, an alumni organization, under the formal name of the Columbia Coaching Certification Program's Alumni Associated received its Certificate of Incorporation from the State of Delaware on March 10, 2014; followed by on Employer ID from the IRS on March 26, 2014, and importantly its 501(c)(3) non-profit organization status August 29, 2014; during the FY 2015/2016 CCLA is focused on engaging the Board of Directors to provide the organizational leadership needed to realize its purpose to serve as a community of practice for CCP graduates, as well as other scholars, practitioners, scholar-practitioners, researchers, students, talent management professionals and others who are interested in the study and practice of executive and organizational coaching in the context of the Columbia’s 3 Coaching Foundations (i.e., mindset, competencies, and process); and

Columbia Talent Alliance (CTA)--the third component of Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence is intended to provide a platform for accessing our growing global community of program alumni, combined with faculty and other resources across the university to provide customized talent development and organizational effectiveness solutions to meet market inquiries for these services  - that we have consistently received even prior to formally launching CCP back in 2006. Our current objective is to identify 2 - 3 organizational projects to serve as a "proof of concept" to formalize this critical component of the center.

Core Concepts of  Hawkins' Systemic Team Coaching Approach...

I walked away from this 3-day experience with an increased appreciation for the comprehensive nature of Peter's thinking and related approach to teach coaching. While there are many components, there are two elements that stand out in my mind, and importantly, I believe have application for supporting and enabling the work of the various teams associated with Columbia Coaching Center of excellence: (1) Five Team Coaching Disciplines and (2) the CIP-CLEAR Process Model. I provide a brief summary of the two below:

Five Team Coaching Disciplines: the five disciplines of effective teams provides a powerful map for diagnosing the complex and dynamic nature of team interactions and performance from a systematic perspective. Peter made the framework practical from the start of the workshop, by having us complete a questionnaire he developed in support of the model, helping us internal the model. The figure below visually displays the disciplines in summary form. 

As you can see, four of the five team disciplines are structured aligned two axis: (1) process-focused (bottom of vertical axis) and task-focused (top of vertical axis); combined with (2) internally-focused (left slide of the horizontal axis | within boundary) and externally-focused (right slide of the horizontal axis | across boundaries); with the 5th located in the center of the model.

The model is not linear, that is, the coach can work with the team at any point of the model depending on the results of the diagnostic questionnaire and other sources of input. Yet, the model is directional - for example, contextually it makes sense to understand the team's reason for being, by whom and performance expectations (i.e., commissioning  - top right hand quadrant  - task and externally focused - the "why").

Once commissioned, one of the first tasks of a new team is define its work, or what Hawkins calls the team's collective endeavor (i.e., clarifying - top left hand quadrant - task and internally focused - the "what"), here the team defines purpose, goals and objectives, core values, vision for success, agreed upon ways of working, role clarity, and performance indicators of team effectiveness.

Next the focus shifts to enacting the team's purpose to realize its intended objectives via a clear set of agreed upon work procedures (i.e., co-creating - bottom left hand quadrant - including modes of communicating, meeting protocols, problem solving, decision making, addressing conflicts, and so on, within the team's boundaries, as well as, when interacting with the boarder system - the "how").

Commissioning, clarifying, and co-creating while necessary, are not sufficient for high-performance, so members of the team and the unit as a whole must attend to how its engaging with it's critical stakeholders, the forth discipline (i.e., connecting - bottom right hand quadrant). Quality stakeholder engagement is a critical factor in high-performing teams. Critical stakeholder groups include customers (i.e, those who rely on the team's work), suppliers (i.e, those who provide key inputs to the team), partner organizations, employees, investors, regulators, boards, and communities in which the team/organization operates, to name a few.

The first discipline is positioned in the center of the model to highlight the importance of the team intentionally stepping back to reflect - on the "what" of the team's work; the "how" of the team's work; and the "why" of the team's work - and the collective impact of these three factors (i.e., core learning). Hawkins states that intentional focus on this discipline ensures: (a) social support between team members; (b) team conflict resolution; (c) support for member learning and development; and (d) a positive team climate.

CLEAR POINTS: I had 2 take-a-ways from our work with this framework over the 3-days: (1) the power of this diagnostic model is not in the individual disciplines, yet in the patterns (positive and negative) that can help the coach and team surface influencing their climate and productivity - the patterns seem to emerge by highlighting the combinations adjacent pairs e.g., combining commissioning and clarifying (top half); co-creating and co-creating and connecting (bottom half); commissioning and connecting (right side); clarifying and co-creating; or diagonal pairs e.g., commissioning and co-creating (potential tension); clarifying and connecting (another potential tension); or via adjacent triads such as commissioning, clarifying and co-creating - core learning positioned as an enabler to attend to patterns emerging from these combinations and (2) in reviewing some of the resources to guide interventions focused on enhancing the team's capacity related to various disciplines associated with high performing teams, I realize that this model provides a structure for effectively organizing many existing tool and resources I already have - this was an exciting development.

On the whole, the five discipline provide coaches with a powerful structure for focusing observations of team functioning, and important ways to enhance the factors that contribute to high-performance!

CIP-CLEAR: the 2nd major framework we worked with during the 3-days was more of "process" model for team coaching vs. the disciplines being more of a diagnostic team coaching model. The process model has 2 major Phases (i.e., positioning team coaching and engaging in team coaching).

The purpose of the first major phase of the systemic team coaching process is to: (a) determine the need for team coaching (or not) and (b) gain commitment to engage in a more intensive, systemic team coaching engagement. The three stages of this phase include: (1) Contracting 1 - initial exploration focused on achieving a level of clarity over desired outcome of team coaching and ways of working (i.e, entering the system); (2) Inquiry - co-creating data (and impressions) in order to identify major patterns of team's functioning (i.e., data collection), performance, and interactions with commissioners; and (3) Diagnosis - working with the whole team to make sense of data collected and co-designing the high-level team coaching agreement for the engagement.

The purpose of the second phase of the systemic team coaching process is to: (a) support the team in realizing it's intended aims and (b) capture the key learning resulting from the team coaching engagement. The five stages of this phase include: (1) Contracting 2 - confirmed/identified intended outcomes and related performance indicators, areas of focus (i.e., some combination of the 5 disciplines), and agree on ways of working) - this includes; (2) Listening - with hears, eyes and intuition (grounded in coach's experience of the team) to stated problems, challenges, and expressed opportunities within context of the team dynamic; (3) Exploring - emergent patterns and encourage experimentation with new patterns that are more inclusive and integrative; (4) Acting - choose a way forward and rehearse first steps; and (5) Reviewing - actions and get feedback (i.e., after-action-review).

CLEAR POINT: My major insight here was the nuanced, yet critically important function of the CIP to establish a need for team coaching and ensure there is a fit with the coaches' approach; overall the CIP-CLEAR coaching process is relational, where as the 5 disciplines are diagnostic in their orientation.

Potential Implications for Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence...

The good news is, in addition to myself, several others involved in various aspects of Columbia's Coaching Center of Excellence experienced this powerful 3-day program - so there is a foundation for us to leverage our collective insights -- two faculty along with me are involved in the Columbia Coaching Certification Program; four of us serve on board of directors (CCLA); and 2 of us are on the leadership team for 2nd International Columbia Coaching Conference.

Below are my reflections about CCCE as a result of this experience:

  • The coaching program faculty are well positioned to build on our work using the CLEAR process model given that we've used it for supervision during the practicum, some of us for nearly 9 years - ACTION COMMITMENT: explore the options for having our team complete the questionnaire with the 5 disciplines (3 of our 8 team members attended the training); 
  • Dana (who attended the training) and me can experiment with ways to use the 5 team disciplines in our start-up work with the conference leadership team - this will be a great space for us to internalize these concepts - ACTION COMMITMENT: purchase book for the three member of the team and follow--up with Dana to agree on an approach; and
  • The major opportunity is to leverage the systematic team coaching with the CCLA Board of Directors - I realized that of the 5 disciplines, a major "gap" in our functioning is a lack of attention to "commissioning" - especially with the larger Columbia University System, as well as, our growing alumni membership; this is critical! ACTION COMMITMENTS: (1) serve my observations for with the board chair (Sharon Dauk); (2) give her a copy of Peter's "Leadership Team Coaching" book; and (3) explore with her the prospects of identifying a resource, experienced in systematic team coaching, work with the board during our annual meeting.

I have two other opportunities to internalize this content: (1) create a lesson on systematic leadership coaching as part of my Social Intelligence Course this term and (2) consider integrating a team coaching module in the redesign of Columbia's Coaching Certification Program.




Dr. Terrence E. Maltbia
Associate Professor of Practice, Department of Organization and Leadership
Adult Learning & Leadership | Organizational & Social Psychology Programs
Faculty Director, Columbia Coaching Certification Program
Department of Organization and Leadership
Teachers College, Columbia University
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