The Shift from Team Coach to Enterprise Coach

For years now, we have primarily focused on building solid capability for Agile Team Coaching. As organizations have begun to truly see Agile Transformations as the path to Organizational Agility, the need for Agile Coaches to move beyond Agile teams and delivery focus, to Enterprise level coaching has continued to increase.

In my work with Agile Transformations, I haven’t always experienced that organizations grasp the reality of this endeavor, nor do they understand what kind of coaching it takes to guide them through this journey. In most cases, they aren’t even aware of what to look for in an Agile Team coach, or what the difference is between a Team and an Enterprise Coach.

Having spent years as a Team and Enterprise coach, I know firsthand that this work is not simple or easy, in fact it can be frustrating, confusing, and lonely; but I’d like to think it can also be fulfilling. As Agilists, we have developed, tools, frameworks, techniques, training, coaching models, coaching circles, communities of practice, conferences – you get the point. We’ve rallied around the waves from Agile Scrum Teams to Agile Transformations to bring thoughtful and helpful solutions for Agile Coaches. And lately, my mind is on how we continue to serve the Agile Coaching community, to develop more competency and capability around Enterprise level work. A small group of us have been working on the ICAgile Enterprise Coach track expert gate, and through that effort we have been realizing the enormity of this task, and also wanting for it to serve what coaches and organizations need most.

So, what does it take to make the shift from Team Coach to Enterprise Coach? I don’t presume that I am covering everything it takes to do this, but I’d like to focus on some areas I believe are key. Think of this in the frame of your “Way of Being” as an Enterprise Coach.  This is a term used in the Integral Coaching (ICC™) method and that others have used before, and I find it extremely helpful in getting a clearer view into what the shift is about. If you are a Team Coach now, and aspiring to be an Enterprise Coach, there’s definitely some development and growth in certain areas that need to happen, in both horizontal and vertical development. As you begin to see and understand your “Current Way of Being” as a Team Coach, and what your “New Way of Being” as an Enterprise Coach looks like, you begin to more fully understand the gap and what capacities or “muscles” you need to develop. Just like anything else. What’s underdeveloped, needs to be developed, for the New Way of Being to come online more and more. It’s a journey, and it requires specific practices and ongoing attention to all four quadrants and developmental lines, in order to build those new muscles.

As an Integral Coach, I help clients get clarity on those underdeveloped muscles that are limiting their effectiveness and hindering them from achieving their goals, and then give them a program with focused practices that specifically work on those muscles. On this journey, through CWOB and NWOB metaphors and symbols, they begin to get more and more familiar with their Current Way of Being. They begin to move from not seeing it at all, to anticipating where it potentially shows up, to seeing it in the moment and then making new choices – right in the moment. The more this happens, the more they are anchoring into the New Way of Being they desire.

In Integral, we talk about development as transcending and including. The Team Coach has developed many capacities that will help the Enterprise Coach. As you identify with what your Current Way as Team coach allows for, and what it limits as an Enterprise Coach, you can more clearly see what this developmental move is going to ask of you. Every individual will have their own unique Way of Being as a Team Coach, and there are some common capabilities that are needed in an Enterprise Coach role.

When you move to a more organization-centric approach, the organizational work is largely about spanning the many boundaries that exist across the organization. Boundaries that have turned into silo’s and divides – the “us versus them” mindsets – all contributing to a lack of collaboration and flow of value. It is about helping people to think in new ways. The work for leaders and coaches is to help organizations and people move away from this type of culture and mindset that keep them stuck at status-quo and unable to make transformational change. The only way anyone can make that shift is by developing the capacity to take more perspectives.

In an interview a couple of weeks ago with Ken Wilber, the Creator of Integral Theory, talking about Integral Leadership and Organizational Transformation, he said these words to us, “There are two things that are particularly important and that especially need to be focused on if you’re going to get any actual sort of transformation…the capacity to take the role of other…and the ability to actually see your own seer [the subject-object switch in development].”

The first capacity – taking the role of other – seeing from their eyes, seeing as they see, is developed by working on taking more perspectives. To do that, you first have to first see your own biases, and see how they limit your ability to see new possibilities and solutions. In a client context, another way to say this is you have to be able to not only look “at” your client (through assessment) but look “as” them – to see from their eyes, as they see. If you can’t do this, you are missing a perspective.

The second capacity — seeing your own seer — can be developed in each of us through meditation, various mindfulness practices, and developmental coaching. This is what Ken Wilber calls Waking Up – getting beyond identifying with our own thoughts and feelings — thinking that we are our thoughts, rather than that we have thoughts.

In summary, the shift from Team Coach to Enterprise Coach is a New Way of Being journey, building new capabilities and capacities that help you to lead organizations through the same kind of transformational journey you are on. Seeing new possibilities, taking new perspectives, moving from us versus them, me versus you, to a place where we are able to lead effectively. This is why transformation starts with us. As a coach, if you can’t see past your own perspective, and unable to take the role of other – your client, you will be unable to make any sort of transformation. If you can’t see past your own seer, and haven’t woken up, you can’t get beyond the identification with your thoughts, the same thoughts that have created this ongoing story that we tell ourselves, about ourselves, that we believe is true. Those are the stories that keep us stuck, in our Current Way of Being, and limit us from our desired New Way of Being. When we anchor into a new story, a new perspective, we begin to see ourselves and others in a new way, and change can then be possible. Sounds so easy right?

We are excited to be launching a Cohort Program to help Coaches on this path. It is the very first Enterprise Coach Cohort Program, accredited by ICAgile in the Enterprise Agility Track, and will be a competency-based Cohort that will help Agile Coaches learn the skills and capacities to make the shift I’ve described from Team to Enterprise Coach. The path for the ICAgile Certified Expert in Enterprise Coaching through our company, Trans4mation, can be done through successful completion of our Agile Trans4mational Leadership Workshop (ICP-ENT), and this Enterprise Coach Cohort Program (ICP-CAT and ICE-EC). You can find out more about our upcoming ATL Workshop in Boston this September, and the very first Enterprise Coach Cohort Program, which kicks off with a Bootcamp in the beautiful Azores Islands in Portugal this October here:  If you are someone aspiring to make this transition, I hope you will check this out and consider joining us!


Michele Madore
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