Mutual understanding!

We need to know where we are before we can move ahead

In coaching, the second step after defining what your goal will be is to reflect a moment on where you currently are. This is usually very brief as the coachee knows where they are, and the coach doesn’t need to know to be effective in their role.

In team coaching, in contrast, this step is generally the most important, taking up to 40% of the coaching time with a range of one-on-one and small group conversations to build mutual understanding of the current situation. Once everyone is on the same page, it is much easier and quicker to generate ideas and build commitment to one or more courses of action that will move things forward towards the team’s goal.

Hans Heysen - The water pump 1899

Hans Heysen - The water pump 1899

Spending so much time in conversation not only builds common understanding of the current situation but also helps to build mutual understanding between team members themselves.  With greater mutual understanding people begin to feel safer in being able to say what they think or feel without fear of embarrassment or humiliation.

With increasing safety and increasing honesty, trust levels rise, and people begin to feel more accountable to each other – they become more dependable, they will do what they say.

Psychological safety and dependability are the first two dynamics that characterise high performing teams.  Both arise out of people spending time in conversation about things that matter to them.

Team coaching uses these mechanisms to build the energy and commitment to get a team really moving forward.



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.  Earlier blogs can be found here.

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John Corrigan