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Centaur Stage Season 2 Ep.12- Coaching Teams with Helen Dunnett

Centaur Stage is a weekly video series produced by Cosmic Centaurs, and this second season is all about the magic of teams. Each Thursday afternoon, on LinkedIn Live, at 3:30 PM UAE-time, Marilyn Zakhour, CEO & Founder of Cosmic Centaurs, is joined by incredible guests who share insights, opinions, and perspectives about what makes teams cohesive, high-performing, and happy.

This Centaur Stage Season 2 episode falls within the third chapter, all about coaching teams. Marilyn hosted Helen Dunnett, a Business Performance Coach & Trainer, and they discussed how to coach teams, from the individual to the collective.

Watch the full episode here.

About Helen Dunnett

Helen is a Business Performance Coach & Trainer, and has nurtured an eclectic communications-focused career over 30 years in the UK and Europe. She’s been self-employed, a full time volunteer, an employee in various SMEs, and a multinational.

Helen started her career in a world where faxes were a must-have, and mobile phones came with a handbag for the battery. She has spent her career as a communicator and marketer seeking to understand what makes people tick, what motivates people to take interest in the world around them, and what would need to happen for someone to shift their own behavior.

Helen is endlessly fascinated about how emotions and perception continue to trump facts and logic. So it’s no surprise that her curiosity in people became her fulltime focus and career. After 25 years, she retrained and qualified as an ICF-accredited coach. Today, she supports individuals and teams, particularly young teams, to increase their self-awareness and self-management in order to drive fresh thinking and better conversations that fuel great performance.

About the Topic

Coaching teams is all about helping team members and leaders improve their performance and their ability to engage and collaborate with one another, with the goal of improving the performance of the whole team in the long run. The global pandemic highlighted the need for organizations to be flexible, to adapt to a variety of circumstances, and to be resilient in the face of possible or current crises.

The data supports this too. In a survey by the International Coaching Federation (ICF), Leaders who were coached reported that challenging circumstances made them need coaching more than ever.

We believe that coaching teams is a key component of high performing, cohesive teams. It’s about driving results and importantly, it reminds us that individually and together, we can grow, learn, and thrive.

Marilyn Zakhour, CEO & Founder of Cosmic Centaurs, Helen Dunnett, Professional Coach

Key Learnings from the episode Coaching individuals, improves the whole team

Team coaching is about increasing the collective ability and desire to perform as one to achieve a common goal. In individual coaching, the collective is not there, and coaches have to create conversations where individuals can actually start seeing the perspectives of the other team players. “It always starts with self-awareness, and then slowly to create that curiosity to imagine what it must be like to be someone else. I have to play that role in individual coaching to bring in a fresh perspective, which helps in looking inwards”, said Helen.

Helen helps teams with practical training on key skills. She also coaches individuals within the team because each person comes with a different set of values, expectations, and beliefs. She uses a report called the Harrison assessment, which helps her identify the individual behaviors, skills, strengths, and blindspots of trust in teams. Those blindspots are particularly important to work on for the team to improve, because while teams may believe they have genuine trust, most times it’s superficial trust.

“Between working together and working separately, it's about building psychological safety. It’s about creating the safety, the knowledge, the self-awareness that team members can actually show up, and be more of themselves as a team”, said Helen.

Identifying true values, not conditioned values

Regarding values, it’s important to ask yourself if they are really your values, or if you don’t genuinely value them.

Conditioned values are values that are superficially important to us, that we might have acquired only from listening to others, and they are how we judge other people more than they are our actual truths. Conditioned values push us away from others, because there's a sense that when team members don’t align with those values, they therefore don't align with the team.

Helen coaches team members to identify their true values (as opposed to those conditioned values) through an exercise. In this exercise, she helps team members clarify a few things they actually value, and perhaps also aspire to be. “Once you help someone identify what's really important to them, then you learn how to help them connect with their team, and align more with the team values through their own”, explained Helen.

She continued, “If you really start to connect through your true values, you open yourself up to new possibilities.”

Coaching for daily instances, brings significant end results

Helen helps team members become better listeners, as people often have issues actively listening and understanding one another. Language can be used either to destroy connections or to build them, and so she focuses on daily interactions a lot to improve relationships between team members. Helen creates safe places for conversations to happen, and leaves agency to the team members to try and really listen to one another.

The role of needs & emotions

According to Helen, in the workplace, people tend to be unhappy because they often focus on their needs that are not being met, although in most cases there is often another need that has just been met. Helen helps team members by looking at the level of needs that they hold on to, identifying their primary needs, and then helping them think about secondary needs by giving them a strategy to deprioritize needs. “As soon as you are tight on the strategy of prioritizing needs, it becomes anarchy, where you don’t want to follow rules”, explained Helen.

In individual coaching, empathy and emotional intelligence are embedded in the type of questions Helen asks her clients. In collective team coaching different exercises and questions help bring in new perspectives, and makes it easier to accept each other’s perspectives. Those exercises facilitate improve the collective emotional intelligence of the team, because team members become more aware of each other’s emotions and tendencies, while understanding each other better.

Something that Helen does is help clients name emotions when they don’t have the language for it. She has emotional wheels, which help in showing them that there are no negative emotions, because behind every piece of emotion, there is informationShe explained that actively listening to one another involves trying to understand the need behind their emotions. “When people hear their needs being expressed and heard by somebody else, particularly in the group setting, they feel so much more seen, they feel heard, and they feel safer”, said Helen.

Generational Differences

Helen closed the session by mentioning that millennials tend to be more anxious than clients from older generations, as they have more anxiety to be accepted, and receive recognition, whereas Gen X are generally more comfortable.

Marilyn shared her input on the matter saying “although many behaviors people have are ingrained, every generation has its own new challenges brought on by the kind of technology they have access to and the changing world around them.”

🔥 Rapid Fire

The one thing every team needs is…”A vision.”

The one thing a team needs to avoid…”Complacency.”

A good team leader is…”Has Integrity.”

The best book on teams is…”The Five Dysfunctions of a Team, By Patrick Lencioni.”

What’s your favorite team ritual? “The homemade ones. The experience made rituals.”

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