Pleasure to team coach

I coached groups enabling them to self-negotiate team contracts so they are set to flourish.

To baseline the status quo I asked them to think of an imago of the current state of their team. My tools, rolling on the table, were colourful crayon, pens and pencils borrowed from my 3yrs old daughter and A4 plain shits of paper. 

With clarifying questions, I stayed on: think for yourselves, let’s use your creative brains; if you closed your eyes and thought of your team what image comes up. 

I was about to sketch my example on the white board when one of them grabbed a crayon and started passionately drawing and rest followed suit. 

I observed an immense verities of images unfolding. We had houses, jungle huts, groups of animals, bridges, mountain ranges, boats – all – full of colour, live and story – nothing like the boring example of blobs and borders I was about to sketch. 

Wow, isn’t it amazing that we can kill the freedom of creativity or lead teams away from an emerging insights by giving an example in a certain way.

What was even more compelling to me – the coach a mere observer by then – was the richness of unfolding stories people shared around the table when helping the rest to interpret own drawings. 

I asked some steering questions on boundaries, destinations, interactions with other teams outside of the room, worst case and best case scenarios, expected bumps on the way and asked them to draw the image of a fully functioning team for their chosen purpose and again withdrawn when hands started busily filling up empty, new pages or adding elements or colours to the previous versions. 

 The interpretation discussion brought up all sorts of hidden dynamics, white elephants, phantom fears that could be squashed then and there, brave questions of one another, individual pledges and re-contracting all of it pacified by the child like freedom of drawing. 

My first team decided which drawing best represented the ‘dream team’ in their eyes and minds and took it as an attachment to the formal team contract they were about to write up. 

The lessons from the experience for me were three-fold:

1.    to stretch even more the silence after a powerful question or a vague enough instruction to see if perhaps the team is not ready to self-run with it. My role is to withdraw and observe how they start building of each other even with the slightest mimes around the table and later offer it back to them as an observation

2.    The withdrawing from the table gives me the ability to soften the gaze, feel the room and to envelop the team with stronger empowering presence – and again offer any felt experiences

By not listening to the details of what is being discussed I can fully focus on the process of how – which gives me an immense depth of seeing how the team is and is not …. and by offering it back to them the most significant shifts can happen.

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