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It’s All in the Game for Coaching Business Teams


Fri May 13 2016

It’s All in the Game for Coaching Business Teams

Organizations can leverage soccer’s model for coaching teams in today’s global business world. There are two key developmental steps for people working in teams. First, team members must learn a new mindset for practicing collaboration. This is followed by applying new competencies that focus on collaboration skills. When combined, these serve as an operating platform that enables the application of genuine collaborative teamwork in the workplace.

Coaching to Develop Collaboration’s Mindset

Most people on teams already show up to work with underlying assumptions that support group work. (Think: cooperating and coordinating with others.) But having these assumptions is very different than participating in genuine collaboration_._ 


Changing underlying assumptions is the initial challenge for the team coach. Changing a team’s mindset starts with the team understanding that high performance is necessary for the task at hand, and high performance can only be achieved when the team functions in a way that recognizes the interdependent nature of the team’s relationships. Anything short of that recognition will not result in high performance.  

The next assignment for the team coach is to introduce 11 operating principles that mirror actions that happen on the soccer field. Like world class soccer teams, success on the “business field" is made up of learning and applying the operating principles to support genuine team collaboration. “Rely on Each Other” is one example of an operating principle. Together, they are introduced as “governing principles” that every team member must learn to move the business forward.  

Coaching to Develop Collaboration’s Skillset

For the second piece of the operating platform, the coach must introduce a series of collaboration competencies, including “relationship building,” “being a team player,” and “team management.”  All of these competencies must be aligned with the platform’s operating principles. Most coaches are very familiar with competency models , so the idea of teaching people a new range of competencies that focus on collaboration should not be a challenging task. However, the process for developing collaboration’s competencies is still highly personalized. 

Next, the coach works with team members to develop action plans, once strengths have been assessed. Typically, team members can use a 360 assessment for this step. From there, it’s a case of targeting selected competencies for growth, followed by periodic coaching to help reinforce learning and application.

Leveraging Soccer’s Model for Coaches

Soccer’s model serves as one key piece of a larger operating framework for coaches (and organizations) to use for developing teams pursuing genuine collaboration. After that, the process of developing additional infrastructure may fall on collaborating with other consultants who specialized, for example, in organization development.


Editor’s Note: For more on how to apply the soccer model to coaching collaboration, check out my book, The Collaborator:  Discover Soccer as a Metaphor for Global Business Leadership.  Also, this spring we will be launching The Collaboration Game™ to help coaches develop people on teams.

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