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EP: 60 – The Amazing Journey-Transformational Team Development with Peter Bluckert

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Introduction Peter Bluckert is the founder of Courage & Spark, pioneers & thought leaders in the Gestalt approach to Leadership Development. He is also the founder and has led and grown four successful coaching & Leadership Development consultancies. Peter is a prolific writer. He is the author of several books & articles including; Psychological Dimensions of Executive Coaching, Gestalt Coaching-Right Here Right Now and Gestalt Coaching: Distinctive Features. He also co-founded the European Mentoring & Coaching Council (EMCC). Peter’s other passion is music and for this episode he asked the acoustic musician Ed Boyd, band member of Lunasa and Flook to compose an outro to simulate team coaching. I sincerely hope you enjoy both the conversation and this music piece. 

Podcast Episode Summary

This episode illuminates what is involved in a transformational team development journey. Peter explores the role of a Team Coach and shares some important distinctions & capacities that Team Coaches need to possess to support team development. The episode is littered with gems, words of wisdom and stories that bring to life Peter’s approach and the value of his offer. I particularly enjoyed his football story at the end of this episode where Peter demonstrates his skill in genuinely helping a team transform. 

Points made over the episode

  • The reason for entitling this episode as The Amazing Journey is explained 
  • Peter Bluckert’s model and approach often takes anywhere between 18 months to 4 years with a team. 
  • It is not uncommon that a team will approach this work with some order of anxiety and trepidation even resistance. 
  • Team Coaches can have influence and impact with a team.  They can improve the quality of conversation, help the team offer deep levels of sharing, disrupt dysfunctional patterns, improve team mood, spirit and belief & accelerate personal and leadership development. 
  • Important that a team coach has the ability to create conditions of deep trust and psychological safety. 
  • Openness, Trust and Safety are critical success factors in team development 
  • Often Team Coaches meet their own anxiety by over structuring events and relying too heavily on content. 
  • Our role is to create enough space for the Team to do their work 
  • Team Coaches need to possess a holding presence, they need to grade their experiments and not go too fast. They need to invite team members to stand in the metaphorical swimming pool and take a dip
  • Context is such that we have to manage our own anxiety and help the team see that slowing things down is the work to reflect, to notice self to notice self in relation to others -all requires a different pace
  • As Team Coaches we have to hold the tension and not react to a client by giving them an approximation of their world. 
  • Process versus Content is an important distinction Peter learnt early on in his career. Most of us have only a partial awareness of this important distinction. 
  • By being overly focused on content we miss each other, we miss communication issues, we miss team dynamics and relationship issues. We miss a lot. 
  • Peter shares how he introduces a team to group process work. 
  • He then described his model and approach to team development. He shared it is a combination of individual work and team work as well as a focus on the Leader. 
  • He invites the team to declare their current reality and to determine what it needs to learn and change to deliver its stated mission. He determines if the team has a clear and compelling Purpose, Values and Team Behaviours as well as Group Norms that team members will buy into. 
  • In addition he will afford the team skill development as well as teaching moments, including the ability to self -reflect, build awareness, take personal responsibility  & regulate emotions. He works to uncover team dynamics and finally he supports a team consider their immunity to change using the work of Kegan & Lahey. 
  • The work Peter does with a team could be described as Truth Telling. 
  • He helps the team develop their capacity to dialogue, to notice their own patterns, bias’s and habits. 
  • Team Coaching is complex and  as an external intervener we never know all that is going on in a system. We can get lost, blind- sided by a team and in those moments we have to be patient to allow the fog to clear and gently see what might be figural. We have to be careful how we share and put into the team. It is wise to   offer stuff lightly with humility. 
  • Working with teams Peter will check for the kind of support that is available for team coaching and the level of real commitment for the work 
  • Peter closed the episode by sharing a piece of pivotal work he did with a football team in Ireland that was in danger of being relegated. In this we hear his approach and success with the team. 
  • Finally Peter shared the reason for the change in outro that listeners will experience by listening to the end of the episode
  • The Outro has been composed by Ed Boyd an Irish acoustic musician who play for two bands Lunasa and Flook. This piece was created to approximate team life. A beautiful composition. 

Resources shared 

  • Bluckert P. Psychological Dimensions of Executive Coaching, 2006, Open University Press
  • Bluckert P. Gestalt Coaching; Right Here, Right Now. 2015, Open University Press
  • Bluckert P. Gestalt Coaching-Distinctive Features, 2021, Routledge

Ed Boyd, member of the Lunasa band, a traditional Irish Music Group named after Lughnasadh an ancient harvest festival, provided the Outro music to this episode. 

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