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Leadership Team Coaching:
Developing collective transformational leaders

Peter Hawkins

London: KoganPage. (2011)
ISBN: 978-0-7494-5883-6 232 pp Hardback £24.99

Reviewed by David A. Lane

Peter Hawkins has provided an excellent service in producing a book in a growing field of practice that suffers from a lack of useful texts. It is well written, insightful and provides a series of practical approaches of value to the coach and teams seeking to transform their experience. It is highly recommended.

That said there are a number of areas where perhaps it could have benefited from a more detailed exposition. A greater attention to the expanding work in complexity theory as it applies to organisations, research into decision making under conditions of uncertainly (highly relevant to transformational leadership) and the field of decision sciences which has looked at group or team decision making could all add value to the book had they been more fully explored.

Setting that aside and looking at the book as it stands there is a very coherent structure which takes the reader though an understanding of the importance of teams and what it takes to be successful. The five disciplines of effective teams follows and this is elaborated alongside a consideration of the nature of team process and coaching and the various types of team including at the board level. This exposition provides a valuable grounding to the book and helps address much of the confusion about teams, facilitation, group work and other variants upon the theme. The practical issues involved in finding and managing a team coach are explored together with developing and supervising team coaching and useful tools for working in team coaching.

In concluding he argues that we have to place very close attention to the question of what or who does team coaching serve. This is central to his stance and really deserves careful attention from the reader.

This format makes it easy to follow what could otherwise be a difficult area.

The central model used is based on the idea of the five disciplines of successful team practice. This is a very simple yet comprehensive model. It provides a core to thinking about teams, coaching teams and fits easily into the later sections on supervision of team coaching. Any one working with team coaching would find this a valuable framework either to use or as a tool to critique their own practice.

The five disciplines cover commissioning and recomissioning, clarifying, co-creation, connecting and core learning. The matrix he uses is based on the dimension outside to inside and task to process. Thus commissioning sits as a task outside, whereas clarifying sits as a task inside. Connecting sits outside as a process, and co-creating inside as a process. Core learning sits atop the other processes. What he is able to do with this framework is to bring a number of important areas together to facilitate a generative relationship. So we can see how a team needs a clear commission from those who brought it into being, the right person to run it and then team members who can work well together. Once that commission from outside is established, the team from the inside has to clarify its purpose, strategy, value, protocol, roles and vision for success. However, once this is established the team to be successful must constantly attend to how they creatively and generatively work to have a beneficial impact on performance. Clarifying provides the inside process to accomplish this. These three elements he argues are necessary but not sufficient; the team makes a difference through how they individually and collectively connect to critical stakeholders. This is the process of connecting outside. Finally and sitting above the rest is the place where the team stand back and reflect on their performance and the multiple processes in play to consolidate their learning and engagement.

In taking teams through the five disciplines the team coach can enable transformational leadership. This is the argument and it is well made and practical in its application to team coaching.

To conclude, Peter Hawkins has as the blurb for the book suggests produced a practical roadmap with numerous examples that bring together the limited research to help readers to develop people in teams to perform more effectively. Coaching Psychologists may, like me, wish he had drawn his net wider in searching for theoretical or research led understandings that could have enhanced the concept of team coaching. What is there is useful but there is much as suggested above that is missing. That proviso apart anyone buying this book who is seeking a practical guide to a newly emerging area will not be disappointed.

David A. Lane
Chartered Psychologist
Email: David.Lane@pdf.net


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