Culture Matters!

Individual versus team

When we engage with an individual we are exposed to their personality, their culture and what it is that they say or do. In coaching, we focus on stimulating thinking so that what is then said or subsequently done will lead the coachee to a better place. The actions can be counter-cultural and atypical for their personality, what matters is their clarity and commitment to taking well-thought out action.

We cannot focus on personality or culture because it is hard to untangle them – what is a personality trait and what is a cultural norm? Are they quiet because they are introverted or do people hold their counsel in this culture? And we don’t need to as they can act anyway.


When we engage with teams we have a different situation. The thing that is common amongst the members of an established team, or a new team in an established organisation, is the culture. It is the culture that determines how people speak and act with each other.

It is this culture that determines the success of the team.

The role of the coach, regarding coaching a team, shifts from making an individual’s thinking visible to, first, making the culture visible and then stimulating thinking around how the culture might change to get better thinking and actions taking place. What is working well, what can be improved, what should we do differently.

The desired outcomes are common actions to change behaviour so that the culture of the team changes. If this is a senior team, then their change in culture can ripple through the organisation engendering shifts in behaviour throughout.

“Culture eats strategy for breakfast” - Mark Fields, at Ford Motor Company, in 2006, who attributed it to Peter Drucker, management guru.

John Corrigan is an expert in helping individuals to bring their whole of mind to their daily life and increase their effectiveness and the effectiveness of those around them. This expertise scales from the individual to the team to the organisation. At the core of this work is the practice of encounter.

John Corrigan