Getting ready for the coaching journey (2)

Getting ready for the coaching journey (2)

two people trekking in the mountains

25 January 2024

How do coaches and coachees ready themselves for the coaching journey? In the second part of a two-part blog, Bob Gibbon, a systemic team coach, and team coach supervisor, explores practices and tools which strengthen our readiness for coaching. Read part 1 of the blog here.

Ahead of going on a journey, we invariably pack our case, stop the post and take the dog to our sister. For longer journeys we might buy more clothes or even specific clothes for a specific part of the journey – such as a ski jacket for Aspen, shorts for LA, and a rain jacket for Seattle. If we are going somewhere new or unknown, we might have to research or adapt when we get there. Developing teams and transforming performance are also journeys which benefit from getting ready.

So what might we consider when readying a team for a coaching journey?

In team coaching we generally support teams through a journey to achieve outcomes by garnering their resources to action an evaluated possibility borne out of an analysis of what is (insight) and what could be (foresight) which is amassed through the lens of specific mindsets.

There are many variations of the team coaching journey, but most of them will revolve around the three fundamental stages of:

  • before (preparation)
  • during (intervention)
  • after (review)

The before/preparation element is sometimes expanded to discovery and design, and some models further expand the discovery stage into scoping and inquiry. Whatever model is used, readiness is best tested along the whole route.

The challenge with team coaching is that we are supporting this journey across a set of people who often have different mindsets, different thinking, different skills and experiences, different ways of doing things, and who operate at different paces. In simple terms, we are simultaneously embracing the four dimensions of team, task, talent and temperament.


While there are a number of interpretations of what a team is and is not, they usually involve the presence of interdependence. In many cases, these various models will have an associated team maturity assessment which can give degrees of insight as to how the team might fare with the proposed challenge.

Many teams which have true interdependence, such as executive teams, also have independent and co-dependent tasks. Often the latter two forms of work absorb so much time that the team may not apportion appropriate energy to the key strategic and value-creating interdependent work. Hence, it is often useful to explore this dynamic as part of any team readiness assessment.


Typical areas to explore include:

  • Are team members aligned on the purpose and goals of the intended journey?
  • Do team members trust, respect and support each other?
  • Is there a strong sense of cohesion, collective intelligence and shared accountability?


When it comes to task, further dimensions emerge, such as scale, scope and speed.

Scale – includes the size of the gap between current state and the desired state; and team elements such as the size of the team, the number of teams, the number of organisations (for example, the team of teams) and so on.

Scope – incorporates the breadth of engagement, from team leader to organisation-wide (for example, teaming culture), and the complexity of the task. Many of us will likely have experienced the team or team leader who does a great job in an ordered environment, but goes to pieces when things become more dynamic. A useful tool to consider in determining the complexity of a task is Dave Snowden’s Cynefin framework which defines five states from simple, through complicated to complex, as well as disorder and chaos. 

Speed – although seemingly simple, can deliberately change pace through the journey, and also suffer unwanted slowing and then be forced to accelerate at any time. The ability to change gear can often be a critical factor in success or failure.


Typical areas to explore include:

  • Is the task clearly defined and understood by all team members?
  • Are both individual and collective roles and responsibilities clearly understood?
  • Are the resources needed to complete the task available?


Once the task is defined, we can begin to explore the readiness of the talent. Invariably, talent will incorporate a wide spectrum, from skills and strengths to passions and experiences. A great tool to assess the talent readiness for the task at hand is the positive core framework.

When considering skills, it is often worth considering the four elements of technical, social, personal and risk/recovery.

Technical skills are the contextual skills related to the physics of the task, such as creativity/design, dexterity/making, caring/healing, teaching/training, and so on. Social skills relate to the psychology of the task, including collaboration and partnering. Personal skills include self-awareness and self-agency. Risk and recovery encompasses the ability to anticipate and avoid failure as well as the ability to recover from it.


Typical areas to explore include:

  • Do team members have the necessary skills and experience to complete the task?
  • Are team members willing and able to learn and grow?
  • Are team members motivated to achieve the desired outcome?


In this context, temperament covers our biases and preferred ways of being, our mindsets, and more importantly, the flexibility with which we can access the most appropriate state and mindset in any given context. If the task or challenge involves higher levels of complexity, we may wish to explore mindsets as they relate to the various models of vertical development.


Typical areas to explore include:

  • Are team members able to adapt their styles and states to meet the needs?
  • Are team members open to feedback and change?
  • Do team members have a positive and resilient attitude?

So are you and your team ready? If not, what would be your next steps?

Read part 1 of the blog here.

Bob Gibbon

Bob Gibbon has worked in, led and coached high-performance teams and organisations across the world for over 40 years. Through this time, he has developed many unique frameworks, processes and tools that help power team performance. Following a 25-year corporate career, from manufacturing systems engineer to FTSE 250 board director, Bob first studied Performance Coaching and then High-Growth Coaching. More recently, he has gained practitioner status in Systemic Team Coaching accredited by EMCC and ICF. Bob is also a master practitioner in NLP and certified Team Coach Supervisor.

Photo by Toomas Tartes