Articles | Course Review

Learning Reflections: Team coaching, a potential to be unfolded

28 May 2020
Caroline Sumners

I’m thrilled to be currently part of Team Coaching Studio’s first virtual version of their Certificate in Team Coaching. 

Attracted by the opportunity to learn from skilled and deeply experienced practitioners, I’m also pleased to be a pioneer in the virtual world of online team coaching.  This creative response to the limitations imposed on us by Covid-19 also reflects the realities of business, where more and more organisations are setting up as distributed teams, doing incredible work without shared office space.  

Plunging into day one of the programme, the learning is immediate and multi-layered.  Meeting other participants (in a virtual space) for the first time, we’re asked to notice our internal landscapes as we take our initial steps on the journey towards forming a learning group, or even, perhaps, becoming members of a team!

Before being invited to speak we draw a picture of where our attention is focused.  My own drawing (see below) corresponds directly with Eric Berne’s theory of Group Imago: at the beginning of team formation we tend to be very aware of our own mental maps, our attention is on our internal state and perhaps on the leader, with the rest of the group an undifferentiated blur.  My own poor drawing skills aside, it’s illuminating to dive straight into reflective learning with such a simple indication of the value of experiential learning; drawing parallels between our live response and the experiences of the teams we are being trained to coach, enables us, as learners, to harvest the learning at intellectual, emotional and other levels.

Imago 1: Self in the foreground, other members of the ‘team’ distant and undifferentiated, leaders prominently commanding the room, and in the context of on-line participation, everyone else has a screen shaped head!

The initial session was thought provoking and intense, another mirror to the experience of forming a team.  We were asked to consider myriad questions … exploring what is distinctive about team coaching and who I am as a team coach … questions I am confident I will investigate in depth over the 8×3 hour sessions we have together. 

Distributed, virtual teams are a growing trend and it is likely that Covid-19 will accelerate this trend, I’m therefore pleased to be using my time-inside to be honing a skill that will enable me to reach, virtually, more amazing teams that want to benefit from coaching.

The fact that the growth in the coaching industry is in team coaching, is enough of a rationale to embark on this training, but having had my first session I’m excited by the level of complexity and challenge which makes team coaching an engrossing and gripping topic. Travelling in this land promises to be rewarding in itself.

Keep an eye out for Catherine’s next blog as she updates us on her progress and learning through the Certificate.