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EP:24 – A Conversation with John Hill

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john hill

John Hill is an accredited Executive Coach and Training specialist. He is a faculty member with the Academy of Executive Coaching and teaches on their Master Systemic Team Coaching Diploma. He has two particular interests in his work, 1. Build awareness systemically and 2. Develop personal and collective psychological capital in groups, teams and organisations.

Show Notes

Podcast episode summary: John illuminated the important systemic nature of teams. He littered this show with many references and stories showcasing what it means to think systemically. He shared why he thinks thinking systemically is important and how it shapes the work and behaviours on teams.  He also demonstrated the interlink between emotions, psychology and transformational change. Sometimes, according to John we simply have to look awry and with curiosity to get at different results.


Noteworthy points of discussion

  • We are all each of us affected by the many and varying systems in which we live
  • Maybe we have to do a better job of reintegrating the many disparate ways we look at the world
  • John cited the increasing need for teams today, teams are the units of currency or building blocks for great organisational performance
  • John shared a metaphor that describes his approach to team coaching. He sees teams as rivers in flow with a direction and many influences in the form of tributaries. As a team coach he is the rock that the team needs to navigate, be with and be disrupted by.
  • John described his process of engagement with teams, a model used by Professor Peter Hawkins called the CID-CLEAR model.
  • John uses himself as an instrument of change. He is pragmatic, down to earth and real and he helps the team clarify their expectations together, the outcomes they wish to achieve in a very vivid manner.
  • All teams are complex. “There is nothing more complicated than when it is looked at with fresh eyes doesn’t become more complicated” Donella Meadows
  • A survey conducted by Conference Board of New York showed how job satisfaction and engagement at work was affected by feelings, how we feel about our manager and how we feel about the people with whom we worked largely impacts engagement.
  • John helps teams become intelligent about their emotions; he also helps people become adept at looking at their thinking.
  • He often employs a CBT approach to thinking about thinking. He described the Ellis model or ABCDE model, where if we can dispute the beliefs (the B in the model) we can change our thinking.
  • Similarly, John shared the work of Lex Sisney, an organisational coach who says, “it is not a problem to be solved but a polarity to be managed.”
  • John described his approach to team engagement which often encompasses some form of somatic work and embodied work for insight and thinking
  • Team Coaching is a blend of facilitation, coaching, teaching and systems sight
  • According to Professor Alice Roberts the evolution of Homo Sapiens versus Neanderthals amounted to an ability by Homo Sapiens to collaborate. The degree of change happening today requires greater levels of collaboration.
  • Teams need to come together to explore the skills, experiences and judgements that they can better use together than apart.
  • Katzenbach and Smith is a good book and great primer for people to consider the work of teams.
  • John shared his view that teams need to treat their purpose as if it were a baby to be nurtured. He also said we could think about changing the word purpose from a noun into a verb and start thinking about how we are purposing in our meetings, time together etc…
  • Teams need to think more systemically and ask questions such as “what would our stakeholders ask of us” what does the future generation require of this team today?”


Resources: the following include the resources we alluded to over the course of our conversation

  1. Donella H. Meadows (2008) Thinking in Systems:  A Primer
  2. William R. Torbert, Action Inquiry: The Secret of Timely and Transforming Leadership
  3. Peter Hawkins, CID -Clear Model as described in Leadership Team Coaching
  4. Albert Ellis ABC theory developed into an ABCDE framework found at
  5. Johari Window created by Joseph Luft and Harrington Inghram in 1955
  6. Lex Sisney, The science of growing businesses
  7. Professor Alice Roberts. Tamed, Ten Species that changed our world
  8. Katzenback, JR. Smith, K. The Wisdom of Teams

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