Velas Coaching

What I Learned About Team Coaching and Making Risotto.

As a leadership coach I have found that making Risotto and Team Coaching have some interesting parallels.  A few years ago I great friend of mine invited me to her house to eat dinner.  When I arrived she told me “we were going to eat Risotto”,  I told her, “I love Risotto, and I can’t wait”.

We started by opening a bottle of wine, and as we were chatting away, she went ahead and started cooking the Risotto, I noticed how skilled she was at making this excellent dish, she didn’t even need a recipe.  She knew by heart what she needed when to add it and how much to add.  Our conversation was about the new business we just had started together, we had challenges ahead, but we were excited at what the future would bring.   Then she said, “ok let’s eat”,  the Risotto was done, and it was perfect, I always told her she could cook a killer Risotto, and at one point she shared with me her recipe.

Fast forward until a few months ago, I wanted to cook Risotto for my wife and daughter, and I remembered the recipe my friend shared with me.  I gathered the ingredients and started doing it by the book,  I saw how my friend made it, and she didn’t even use a recipe, I was sure I was going to have the same results… well not quite.

At the end of my first attempt,  the rice wasn’t cooked all the way.  The second attempt, the rice was mushy and didn’t look like the Risotto I ate at my friend’s house.  I tried to do again, with results that were just as bad, my risotto looked nothing like my friend’s, it was edible but nothing like what I saw at my friend’s. What was going on?, I was following the recipe to the letter,  I call myself a good cook, but this was beyond me.

A few weeks ago, a fellow coach asked me a question,  how do you respond to a client who says “your team coaching process is pretty straight forward,  any good coach/facilitator could do what you do?”.    And then I remembered my Risotto story and realized that coaching, especially team coaching, is like cooking Risotto.  Yes, any person with some cooking experience would be able to throw in some ingredients together and cook a Risotto, or perhaps not.   But when the stakes are high, would I try to replicate a meal not knowing the outcome?   Would you?

Just like cooking Risotto, the process of Team Coaching using the Stakeholder Centered Approach is “pretty simple”, yet you need the experience of a certified coach/facilitator to make it a success, every time.   When the stakes are high, and most team coaching processes are, you need to make sure the coaching turns out great the first time and every time.   Yes, any great coach could attempt to do it, but there is not guarantee.   And when a coach says,  “I only get paid if the process works,  I only get pay if the team gets better” you bet he is comfortable and will make it work,  that is what he/she does well.

Learn more about Our Team Process and Benefits here.

    1.    The coach needs to know what success looks like and help the team achieve that success, and it all starts with the right mindset.  The coach needs to put the team in a mindset that will allow them to be, humble, courageous and disciplined to make it work.  It is simple, but not easy.

    2.    You got to read the ingredients  As a team coach, you need to read the room and see who are you working with and how the “ingredients” fit with your recipe and the intended outcome.   

    3.    Need to be prepared for the unexpected – I remember my friend cooking the risotto, and at one point she frown and utters a quick “hu huh” I inquired, “what happened?”, She casually said,  “I think the heat is too high”,  she quickly made an adjustment, and we continued our conversation.  As a team coach, we need to adjust and reshuffle the ingredients and conditions when needed. I had two people at one time telling me that they were not willing to go thru the process if that happens,  what do you do?

    4.    You need to know you will make it work – The Stakeholder Centered Coaching approach is built on the premise that people want to get better.  The team coach knows that, and he uses that eagerness to guide the participants toward closing the behavior gaps that the team needs to catapult to the next level.   The coach knows that he will make it work, not only because that is how the process works, but because his final compensation is tied to that outcome.

    5.    You need to use the right tools – A Stakeholder Centered Coach,  has a plethora of examples and instruments which can be utilized to guide the team towards achieving success.  He knows when and how to use those depending on the needs of the team and team members.

    6.    You need to know what success and failure look like at different stage of the process.  This is, perhaps, the most critical competency that a Stakeholder Centered Team Coach needs to have.  If he/she knows that the coaching process is aiming towards success or failure, he/she can adjust and even call for backup and help if needed.

    7.    You need to have the right experience –  The Stakeholder Centered Coaching approach is different from any other certification out there.  First,  the coach is evaluated based on results, not on hours spent coaching.  Second, the evaluation comes from the people that are most affected by the behavior that the executives are trying to change, their stakeholders.

    8.    You need to be comfortable, confident and enthusiastic about your process. Comfortable that you will make it work,  confident that you know what you are doing and enthusiastic so people can be inspired and elevated to do their best.

I have come to the conclusion that I need a lot of practice to make a killer Risotto, but I am sure I will get it right, eventually.   Team coaching is a whole other animal; the recipe is out there, but when the stakes are high and you need your team to succeed, what do you do?

If you want the Risotto’s, or the Team Stakeholder Centered Coaching recipes, let me know,  I would love to share those with you.  Or else, we can help your team to achieve their goals the first time and every time.

Luis Velasquez MBA, PhD

Luis is a leadership coach, employee engagement expert, and management trainer. Formerly a University professor and research scientist, Luis holds a dual Ph.D. from Michigan State University; and an MBA in Organizational Leadership.

8 thoughts on “What I Learned About Team Coaching and Making Risotto.

  1. One or two coaching sessions, along with a redo of the initial team assessments, can help a team review its learning and successes at this point.

  2. With this in mind, I decided to pick a sport, look at the coaches most admired for their success, and study their behaviors to better understand what exactly they did that set them, and therefore their teams, apart.

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