What I take away as the essence of systemic teamcoaching at a distance from a workshop.
I attended an online workshop last Friday on teamcoaching at a distance using constellations. It was organised by systemic coaching and constellations (John Whittington) and facilitated by Oana Tanase and Doru Curteanu. I am happy to share my personal experience of it in this blog as I assume that many coaches and team leaders are as sceptical and/or curious as I was about the effectiveness of systemic teamcoaching at a distance. Just in case, you stop reading here. Let me assure you, it can be done to great effect.
What was most remarkable about the session was not so much the technical demonstration on how it is done with the help of Miro whiteboard but a personal experience of what might emerge between participants. Yes, even in a virtual setting, working with constellations wields its magic.
Just like in a live session, the facilitators’ coaching stance is key. Oana and Doru clearly and demonstrably trusted the process, as a participant I could just sense that. They created a safe and open space for us to stop, reflect, wonder and share. They were grounded and resourced and held the issues presented lightly. People struggling with technical hick-ups didn’t faze them.
Even though simple, the design of the workshop provided structure and weaved individual constellations in our own homes, group discussion and work in break-out rooms together into a sort of co-created tapestry. There was plenty of room for people to contribute in any which form. This was a group of very experienced team coaches so the harvest was incredibly rich.
We zoomed in and out of the shared virtual space to avoid zoom fatigue (there were lots of individual moments to practise and short breaks). Doru and Oana paced the dynamic using their voices and Oana inserted mindfulness exercises to support our nervous system and restore coherence throughout the day. Both were very aware of where the group was at and what was needed in the moment.
Remarkably, those who facilitated constellations automatically mirrored that stance and seemed to ease into their work in spite of not being on top of the technology. They clearly stood in their authority, supported the issue holders in their quest for clarity and respectfully gave the representatives a voice. They later said they were humbled by the collective wisdom and felt like facilitating was hardly a conscious effort at all.
What struck me afterwards is how real the connection with the issue holder’s system felt and how readily the representatives seemed to tap into its energy. The fact that we were spread out over many countries didn’t seem to matter much. I guess ‘presence’ can take many forms.
We experienced the exercises individually or in group(s) and then reflected in the larger group on what the exercise could look like when dealing with intact teams in our own practices. I enjoyed the day immensely. As to Miro whiteboard, one participant put it as follows: “we are all great coaches, it is merely a matter of putting in the hard graft of familiarizing yourself with this tool and all will be well”.
To conclude, I quote M, another participant. It concerns an ancient Indian wisdom which he often refers to in his team coaching to underline it takes slowing down to speed up: We raced our horses to the river, stopped and waited for our souls to catch up. This is what we did on Friday. This is what team coaching using constellations can do for you, live and at a distance.