Performance Edge Coach Life: Cate Gregory

an artistic image of people sat on the floor surrounded by postit notes and laptops


I’ve just spent a busy two days in Brussels supporting a Digital Leadership Team with high performance. For this big multi-national client, Leading Edge Performance are supporting multiple senior teams with Highly Effective Teams journeys, and I was thrilled to a part of the team.

The Digital Leadership Team had come together from across the globe for a two-day meeting. As part of this, we were playing back findings from 1-2-1 decompression interviews with each senior leader to gather their perspectives on creating a high-performance team. Following the interviews, our project team had conferenced the data to rigorously analyse the insight through challenge and seeking evidence, creating a clear picture of themes rooted in context and free of bias.

Alongside Team Coach Ash Smith, I played these themes back to the Digital Leadership Team. This valuable human insight – data that might otherwise be inaccessible – will inform the focus of the ongoing team journey.   The team, who’d only met in person once before the Brussels meeting, have an ambitious remit and need to align on a strong culture to drive high performance.

Through decompression interviews, we surfaced nine themes on culture and performance to explore further. Our approach focuses on making the human intelligence as accessible and useful as the first and second lenses of ‘technical’ and ‘tactical’ intelligence. The ‘human’ aspect is the third lens. Through playback, we shared what had surfaced to provide further insight into what could get in the way of coming together as a high-performing team and address it as part of moving forward.


Going deeper with decompression

I love the fact that we all get to bring different lenses from our individual experiences and backgrounds in sport, the military and commercial environments. I have spent time in senior leadership roles in marketing and commercial departments of large organisations, and have worked in, developed, grown and lead high-performing teams.

I have particular expertise in market research, designing and facilitating customer insight activities to gather information and find out what’s really going on in a way that adds value to other available data. Being naturally curious, I use my background to spot those moments in interview where I can go deeper. In decompression, we also capture verbatim comments as useful evidence when playing back.

These interviews are confidential – what’s gathered and played back isn’t attributable to any individual. We make sure the people we’re supporting know this, helping them to feel comfortable in the space and able to open up. Anonymity is at the heart of our approach.


The playback

I’m qualified and accredited as both a Team Coach and a 1-2-1 Coach, and this helped me to see things from a team coaching perspective while working alongside Ash. We were, and needed to be, an agile duo during playback when our time with the team was seriously squeezed because of business-critical aspects and other interruptions out of our control.

Playback needs to be engaging – we’re not just listing what we found. We made the most of the time we did have, pulling on team coaching skills to weave in activities while playing back and exploring the insights. We initially captured gut reactions and asked people to note down their immediate thoughts and feelings on sticky notes. Revisiting these the following day gave people an opportunity to consider whether, and how, their thinking had changed.

As part of the process, we supported the team to prioritise focus areas and assign ownership, ensuring that the insights are used to move the team forward.

Mixing up the environment, particularly getting outdoors, always helps to open up conversation, so some themes were explored in pairs on a walk. They were given themes on cards and asked to think about and discuss these in the context of action to unlock high performance.

What’s often interesting for teams in playback is when we share how ‘hot’ a theme is. We use an emotional heat map, rating the emotions we have detected from low to strong, and provide a percentage for the number of interviews or forums the theme appeared in. We capture what we hear, so if someone says something, and believes it to be the truth, it makes it important. It’s our job to share that and support the team as they explore it further, look to resolve or exploit, as appropriate, and move forward as a high-performing team.


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