When I think back on my journey to becoming a Systemic Team Coach, it seems a bit like big wave surfing. A Youtube video is the closest I have ever got to big wave surfing but I did hear Easkey Britton, Irish Champion surfer, talk about her experience of big wave surfing and I thought ‘There are significant parallels with my experience of systemic team coaching’. It has got nothing to do with being in the midst of inhospitable conditions, facing the ever present risk of serious injury or a requirement to be a bit reckless! But has everything to do with learning a craft, being totally present, and knowing yourself deeply.
In the last 18 months I have been learning the craft of team coaching: active listening, creating awareness through powerful questions and turning insights into actions. It has also involved using different frameworks and concepts to enable teams to see below the surface of their experience so that they can bring about profound, positive change in themselves and their organisation.
A big wave surfer needs to be expert at ‘how to surf’, to know their craft. But on the day of the big waves, knowing your craft is not enough, much like a team coaching session. In addition, both require a capacity to be fully present. Fully concentrating on what is happening in the here and now. Opening all the senses to the experience: seeing, hearing, feeling, and sensing what is emerging. I have learned that team coaching is not just about bringing a team through a series of exercises and facilitated discussions. A key component is being fully present to each member of the team and supporting them, without any blame or judgement, to be fully present to each other. Members of the northern Natal tribes of South Africa greet each other with ‘Sawa Bona’ – ‘I see you’, to which the response is ‘Sikhona‘ – ‘I am here’. This exchange captures this quality of ‘being fully present’ within systemic team coaching: until you see me I am not here and when you see me you bring me into existence. This makes transformation possible.
‘The bigger the wave the bigger the mirror’. Easkey Britton used this phrase to describe how she has had to get to know herself: to know deeply what motivates her, how she experiences fear, how to let go of the need to be in control and how to trust. In becoming a Systemic Team Coach I’ve learned that I am not yet a fully formed human being, but am on a continuous journey of knowing myself. I am learning about how to let go: of my need to be in control, of my fear of what might happen if I am spontaneous, and of my need to discount to myself my own giftedness. Team coaching acts like a mirror in which I encounter an invitation to be fully present to myself and through that to change, and grow and fulfil my potential.
Becoming a systemic team coach has been a wonderful journey of discovery: working with individuals and teams as they, and I, find direction and purpose.