It’s All in the Game – for Coaching Teams in Business

It’s All in the Game – for Coaching Teams in Business

It’s All in The Game for Coaching Teams in Business
by Winsor Jenkins

Soccer’s model can be leveraged for coaching teams in today’s global business world. Two key developmental steps for people on teams are (1) learn a new mindset for practicing collaboration - followed by (2) applying competencies focused on collaboration skills. When combined, they serve as an operating platform enabling the application of genuine collaborative teamwork in the workplace.

Coaching to Develop Collaboration’s Mindset

Since most people on teams typically show up with underlying assumptions (i.e., mindset) that support “group work” (e.g., cooperating and coordinating with others) – versus 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 needed “for the task at hand” and it can only be achieved when the team functions in a way that recognizes the interdependent nature of the team’s relationship! Anything short of that recognition would not result in high performance.

The next assignment for the team coach is to introduce the operating principles in my book, The Collaborator: Discover Soccer as a Metaphor for Global Business Leadership, to people on teams. These 11 operating principles mirror actions that happen on the soccer field. Together, they are introduced as “governing principles” that must be learned – and represent the core piece of an operating platform that can be used by coaches for developing a mindset to support genuine collaborative teamwork. “Rely on Each Other” is one example of an operating principle introduced in the book. 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.

Coaching to Develop Collaboration’s Skillset

In my book, a series of “competencies focused on collaboration” are introduced as the second piece of the operating platform for developing collaboration skills. All of the competencies are aligned with the platform’s operating principles. For the aforementioned operating principle the competencies are: Relationship Building, Team Player and Team Management. 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. With that said, the process for developing collaboration’s competencies is highly personalize once people have been introduced to all competencies in the inventory. Action plans are created once strengths have been assessed across this inventory. Typically this can be done using a 360 assessment. From there, it’s a case of targeting selected competencies for growth…followed up with periodic coaching to help reinforce learning and application.

Coaching to Develop a Culture of Collaboration

The need to develop both the mindset that aligns with genuine collaboration, along with the infrastructure (i.e., operating platform) to support a collaborative culture – even before developing actual collaboration skills – was pointed out in the IBM 2013 C-Suite Study by many CEO’s. Indeed, 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.

Leveraging Soccer’s Model for Coaches

Soccer’s model can be leveraged for coaching teams in today’s global business world. It starts with training followed by a commitment to ongoing development, including coaching. This spring we will be launching The Collaboration Game™ to help coaches develop people on teams. To learn more about the program go to

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ice-sneak-peek-graphicIf you want to see this process in action, join us for a one day workshop on April 25 in Portland, Oregon. Winsor will be giving us a sneak peek at the workshop that he'll be doing at the ATD International Conference and EXPO (ICE) in Denver in May. Click here for more info and to register.