Multi-colored, interconnected cords signifying teamwork, connectedness, and interdependence

In todays’ rapidly changing, highly competitive, global marketplace, teams are forming, performing, and reforming faster than ever. Ensuring a healthy, thriving, team environment will help teams communicate more effectively, resolve conflicts and disagreements more efficiently, and make faster and better decisions – driving teams to become more agile, more resilient, and more sustainable over time.


Cultivating and Nurturing the Leadership Team

ECC Executive Coach Scott Seagren has been coaching senior executive teams for over 15 years.

“High-performing teams reveal intricate ecosystems that are generative within themselves. When I’m first introduced to an executive team, I look at the team system and the relationships. I talk about the importance of setting the container, holding the container, and keeping a close eye on where it might need strengthening. It’s my most critical role as a team coach facilitator.”


Scott offers 5 considerations to ensure a strong team container:


1. Establish a foundation of psychological safety. In a 2012 Google study called the Aristotle Project, researchers found that the most important component of how well the team worked together, was the psychological safety of the team – the ability to be vulnerable and take risks without fear of retribution or other negative intra-team impacts. It’s the basis for developing and strengthening the bonds of trust within the ecosystem among each and every team member. It fosters a climate of free speak, idea generation, innovation, and agility that’s critical for teams to thrive.


2. Develop and adopt rules of engagement. Implementing good team protocols sets a critical foundation for how the team will operate and interact going forward, including how team members treat one another. Designing the team alliance helps further establish the container, build stronger relationships, and is predicated upon 3 key elements:

1. Confidentiality that offers a safe place to work through issues
2. Mutual respect where everybody’s voice counts even when they’re not in the room
3. Each team member bringing their best leadership to the table while owning when they aren’t at their best without being shamed or ashamed for it


Articulating the teams’ rules of engagement with regular checkpoints, helps avoid mistaken assumptions that can quickly undermine and derail the team dynamic.


3. Commit to a defined process of conflict resolution. As we all have different points of view, different expertise, different perspectives, it is inevitable there will be conflict. What differentiates high-performing teams, is their ability to address and resolve conflict early on, in a constructive, productive manner. Critical here, is having a trusted, well-articulated conflict resolution process that’s fully embraced by the team. One company moves conflict to their conflict resolution room, where they first identify the facts that can be agreed upon, and then identify the stories that team members are putting on those facts, and then move through to resolution.


4. Pay attention to the conversations you’re not having. Teams fail slowly, and then quickly because of the conversations they’re not having. Pay close attention to team members who are not speaking up or who may be quiet in the meeting or on the call. Consider what’s being stepped over in conversations and name the elephants that are sitting in the room. Go deeper to understand the why. And be cognizant if it represents a leak in the container, a breach in the rules of engagement.


5. Seek and lean on supports to optimize effectiveness. Executive teams may need additional support for a variety of reasons, including to help with realignment, remedy dysfunction, onboard a new team leader, or accelerate performance and outcomes. A skilled, certified, team coach can provide the structure, support, and empowerment that allows teams to learn, practice, and integrate new behaviors that optimize collaboration to drive sustainable change and results.

With so much on the line in today’s highly competitive business environment, leadership teams must be operating at their best. Now is the time to invest in optimizing key opportunity areas, enabling teams to become more agile, more resilient, and more sustainable over time.


Additional Resources:

1. Teaming: How Organizations Learn, Innovate, and Compete in the Knowledge Economy, Amy C. Edmondson, August 2014.
2. Teaming to Innovate, Amy C. Edmondson, December 2013. 
3. Project Aristotle, Google Study, 2012.

ECC has an exceptional cadre of global Executive Coaches who are certified, trained, and highly skilled in providing specialized support for executive/leadership teams. If you or your organization are looking to strengthen leadership team performance to drive business results and accelerate success, we’d welcome the opportunity to partner with you. Email us at [email protected] or give us a call at +1.847.920.0190.


Scott Seagren, ECC Executive Coach

Scott Seagren is an ECC Executive Coach based in Chicago, Illinois, USA. Prior to ECC, Scott successfully managed a multi-million-dollar options portfolio and ran a futures brokerage business for international agribusiness conglomerates at the Chicago Board of Trade for over 15 years.

In addition to chairing a CEO roundtable in Chicago through Vistage International, Scott is a regular speaker to CEO groups across the U.S. and author of the upcoming book, The Warrior’s Compass: A Guide to Moving from the Safety of the Known to the Unknown in Life and Leadership.

Scott holds a Bachelor of Arts in English Literature & Economics, from Northwestern University.