Monday, December 02, 2019

Expanding Your Group and Team Coaching Toolkit - Systems Part 2

Welcome back to another Expanding your Group and Team Coaching Toolkit. This week we're
exploring the topic of SYSTEMS as a part 2.

When we hear the word Systems it can take on several different meanings - from systems that help us scale and create consistency (the focus of my last post), to systems as in the context of being part of an interrelated complex environment.

As a graduate student in the early 1990s, exploring the intersect of community engagement, facilitation and environmental studies, one of the most influential voices of the time was Peter Senge's writing around the Learning Organization, of which systems theory was one part. His book, The Fifth Discipline, was released in 1990, with five different "disciplines" forming the foundation of a learning organization:

Personal Mastery
Mental Models
Building Shared Vision
Team Learning and
Systems thinking
Reference: Peter Senge, Fifth Discipline, 1999

As a leader within the humanitarian sector throughout the 1990s and early 2000s, incorporating these elements became a large part of team success as we worked to support complex, national, regional and global issues. Being based for most of those years throughout Central and South America, and the Caribbean, systems theory was also influenced by many of the Latin American writers and critical educators of the time. For example, Paolo Freire's writing around PRAXIS, and the intersection of Practice and Theory.

Today, as a coach, sharing these resources with teams has become second nature.

Systems thinking challenges us to think in dynamic, not static terms. It encourages us - as team members, group members, and coaches - to think about the interrelationships, and connections, of ourselves as a team, as ourselves as a team in  an organization, and as ourselves as a team in a larger macro-context. Many times it may evoke a need for a paradigm shift, especially if our current mental models do not support the dynamic context we operate within.

As a coach what is your level of awareness around systems? Paradigms you operate within? What are the tools you have available to explore any of the five areas outlined above by Senge?

This is a rich area of exploration and many coaching programs are now incorporating this. I would personally direct you to the work of:

Peter Hawkins, whose Systemic Team Coaching framework is grounded in a systems model. You can learn more about his work, models and practices at this Podcast he recorded as part of the Team Coaching Podcast Zone -  

Center for Right Relationship and their work around Relationship Systems Coaching.  Find out more about their training at

In a group coaching context systems are also present, given that we as individuals are always part of a larger whole. What are you doing to help people explore the systems they are part of?

Questions to consider:
1. What does systems mean to you?
2. What does systems mean to your client?
3. What approaches and questions could help people expand their thinking around systems?
4. What is the paradigm I operate from?
5. How does that help and hinder?
6. As a coach, what's important for me to explore further?

Enjoy your exploration this week,

Jennifer Britton, CPCC, PCC – Potentials Realized 
Leadership | Teamwork | Business Success
Author of Effective Virtual Conversations (2017), Coaching Business Builder Workbook and Planner (2018) and From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching (2013)
Follow along with the #90DaysPlanDoTrack series over at Instagram @CoachingBizBuilder 
Join the conversation at the Conversation Sparker Zone - our online community where you can explore virtual and team issues, coaching, productivity and business development)

Final 2019 programs include the Group Coaching Essentials Monday/Thursday group starting December 2nd meeting on  Mondays and Thursdays 1:30 - 245 pm ET: December 2, 5, 9, 12, 16 (8.75 CCEs) and the PlanDoTrack Facilitator Training - Monday and Tuesdays 6-9 pm ET December 2, 3, 9, 10, 16 and 17 (24 CCEs)
Join us for a Year-end PlanDoTrack Retreat on Friday December 13th from 1030-230 pm ET. Plan - Create your 2020 vision, Do - Take some action on a key task, and TRACK - set your metrics for next year.

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