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I loved the book’s sub-title, “The Secret Life of Teams”. Phil Hayes’ Leading and Coaching Teams to Success is about what happens behind closed doors to teams. It discusses how teams can gossip, get off track and eventually collapse. It’s quite cathartic to read about teams in worse situations than your own.
Hayes, who I interviewed earlier this year, is a coach for teams. His job is to help teams find the root causes of problems before they become serious. Coaching teams can help them become great performers.
Coaching is primarily about coaching individuals. The idea of coaching a whole team at once was something I had never considered. The stories in the book show that you can and it works.
Practical coaching advice
It would be difficult to pick up this book and become a great team coach. There are many stories, examples, and exercises that will help you become a better leader. Hayes, for example, discusses the three types of leadership: authoritarian/laissez-faire, achievement focused/democratic.
These styles may work in different situations but the leader sets the tone. You can create a team that is harmonious by understanding the differences between each style and what works best in different environments. A project team should be able to communicate effectively.
Phil Hayesenvironment. I believe that the achievement-focused/democratic style would work best for the majority of the time.
Housekeeping is a team effort.
Hayes writes that each member of the team should be made aware that they will respect confidentiality when speaking to them individually. Hayes has some guidelines for teams that I consider “housekeeping” and would be a good practice for any project team, regardless of whether you are working with a coach. Here are some examples:
A team contract should be created that outlines how the team will work together. It should be signed by everyone.
Facilitation skills are important if you work with groups. However, facilitation is a different skill than coaching.
Listen more than you talk
The book also includes a chapter on how you can be a good teammate, which I found very interesting, especially the section about managing your boss. Top tip: “Demonstrate how your work is helping the boss achieve his goals.”
Hayes suggests that you stop asking why. Hayes says it is counterproductive to ask people why. He wrote:
It is usually asked to satisfy curiosity and can put the client on the defensive. Clients are often required to explain themselves. This question is useful for journalists, scientists, and politicians but not for coaches. The question “Why haven’t you solved it yet?” will have a different impact than asking “What is stopping you from solving this problem?”
We all work with teams as project managers. It’s a difficult job to coach a team, and not everyone can do it. It doesn’t hurt to learn a little bit about the inner workings of teams. This book will help you identify the qualities that a coach should have.
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