Team Leadership for Results

More and more organisations are coming round to the benefits of team coaching, but many still don’t exploit its full potential. Sue Weekes interviews John O’ Boyle of Belbin and finds out how to use team coaching to create a high -performing results driven workforce

Team development has succeeded in making the move from being seen as a bit of a fad to a serious development tool. According to a survey by the UK Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM), 80% of organisations have used or are using team coaching and another nine per cent are planning to use it. Some organisations, though, still need convincing when it comes to the real benefits team coaching can bring to the business, and there needs to be more emphasis on ensuring coaching programmes deliver tangible results and value for money.

How team coaching can benefit your organisation

John O’ Boyle is the MD of Belbin Ireland and has over 30 years business experience in management development and is refreshingly direct about Team Development-
‘If I am the boss, I want to see one thing only, improvement that I can measure in direct bottom line. Sure, better teamwork helps but if I cannot see results forget it. ’Historically, team coaching has been perceived as something soft and fluffy, it is the reverse and if done well, it forces the team to come to the view that they are not performing optimally and real change is needed. Candidly, I find that less than 20% of the teams I meet are performing to their level and so their performance is impaired’

Creating a results driven culture- The team

Fine in theory, but when pushed as to how to do this he became more animated , ‘First of all just pushing people to improve their functional skills though vital, is not enough, the key point is to start with their behaviour. They need to recognise their own behaviour, those of the team members, strengths and relative weaknesses, then to become really open about it, and so building trust. Only then can a manager say, right we as a team need to get here, so how do we do so together. Far too often, the silo mentality takes over, as is natural.

The Role of the Leader and their resistance

O’ Boyle acknowledges that this is a challenge, particularly for a highly results driven manager who can easily decide to kill off team development or half do it by team days or one way town hall meetings.
‘ Before starting work, I like to take 20 minutes of a leaders time to find out what is really needed and set expectations, but it also enables me to ask, how they will help. Often, they will say that this does not deliver results. If they want better results then they will almost always probe me really hard, and the harder they probe, the more successful the project is. Scepticism is very healthy, in fact I encourage it.”

Coaching for customers

Finally, coaching is, of course, widely associated with building a high performance organisation and in the era of more-for-less it has also been a valuable tool for increasing engagement and building resilience in the workforce. The direct benefits to the customer, however, are perhaps less well understood. O’ Boyle believes this is another area where organisations are potentially missing a trick when it comes to achieving a return on their investment from coaching. “There is a lot of talk about soft skills and becoming more customer-centric and putting customers at the heart of things but the real value of team development must be about results. Frankly, if Belbin does one thing it illustrates behaviour and it only works when performance is improved.” he says. “All organisations need to measure are using it to develop more innovative and collaborative ways of working with customers and in doing so are gaining real competitive advantage.”

John O’ Boyle, MBA,MSc is the Director of Belbin Ireland, and can be reached at