As we saw last time, if individual coaching rests on enhancing individual strengths, systemic coaching rests on the professional interfacing of those individual strengths. To return to the sporting analogy, a rugby team will achieve greater success by learning how to efficiently interface complementary individual skills with one another than if each individual alone sought to improve personal performance.
The focus of systemic coaching isn’t on individuals, nor is it limited to coaching the quality of relationships between team members. It’s principally aimed at enhancing operational interfaces between members of a structured system, improving collective results in the process.
Collective success may even at times require temporarily limiting the individual performance of some members of the team. In football, otherwise brilliant players who nonetheless hog the ball may lower the performance of the team, whose success depends more on the collective ability of all players to pass the ball in an intelligent and opportune way.
The systemic approach to coaching shouldn’t be confused with “group coaching”; it needs to be differentiated as a very specific approach to group coaching. A fair proportion of coaches who claim to work on team coaching are actually focusing on enhancing individual performances in a collective setting. Systemic coaching is different: its principal aim is optimising the collective performance of the team by fostering collaborative and positive interfacing between members.
The parts of an aeroplane only actually fly when they’re properly and precisely interfaced with one another; much the same is true of human systems such as teams. Interfaces exist between individuals in a team, between teams and between divisions of an organisation. In systemic coaching, it’s the collaborative efficiency of these human, professional interfaces that are targeted for optimisation.
The versatility of systemic coaching shouldn’t be underestimated. While it’s highly suited to entire teams or divisions, it can also be effectively employed with individuals, increasing their capacity to foster better performance interfaces with their human systems.