When you ask most people when or where were you first “coached” they would immediately think about sport. Whether it be learning to play tennis, hockey, rugby or soccer the fact that you are learning from a “coach” who at the early stages is effectively instructing you what to do and you as the “player” learn, repeat and correct. I was no different and my passion for Rugby started at Felsted School when I was eight and I still remember the names of the coaches who moulded and influenced me over the next ten years – Mr Higham, Lerwill, Pockley, Jervis, Feldman and Rev Clarke.
But my first real exposure to what I now see as coaching did not happen until I was thirty-one, as I was preparing to take part in the BT Global Challenge, an around-the-world yacht race. Team Logica was assembled in January 2000, under the leadership of our Skipper, Jeremy Troughton, we had a 15-member crew who would sail the complete race, and two employees of our sponsor “Logica” would join us on each leg.
The initial coaching took place in March 2000 when an extended team of 26 individuals gathered in Abingdon, UK. Over a three-day period, a team of twenty-eight of us were coached through Tuckman and Jensen’s (1977) “forming, storming, norming, performing” model with the output being an agreed and aligned vision, goals, and team values. Three external coaches facilitated the sessions, where team members highlighted their hopes and concerns, and introduced models that would be beneficial during the ten-month race such as; how to give and accept feedback, the “push pull” model, incorporating new members to the team and conflict resolution.
The learnings were captured in a document entitled “we are all in the same boat” with personalised “value & goal” cards created for each team member. As a crew we also had several one day follow up coaching sessions prior to and during the race, in one of these crew members bought one family member or close friend, recognising the broader impact to friends and family of the 10-month challenge. It was an amazing three days which bonded us and created the foundation for a strong, loyal and competitive team. I think that as a result of the coaching “Team Logica” was one of the closest and best functioning crews in the 2000/2001 BT Global Challenge.