Here are some examples for names:
- Nervous Wreck
- Strict Teacher
- Shy Girl
- Silly Clown
Although they come from different sources, places, time periods, they contribute to and compose the same personality. They are all part of one personality. They do not necessarily demonstrate unity and harmony. Therefore, there are three constellations occurring in team conferences:7
- Inner tangle/huddle/confusion
- Predominance of loud and quick voices
- Confrontation (resulting in fights or blockage)
Recognizing and accepting the diversity of voices and, even more cumbersome–the ‘bad voices’, the uncomfortable, disturbing voices–is quintessential for the success of the team conference and, later on, for the success of the communication. In summary, during the team conference,
it is important that all voices are listened to, also the ones that we do not like very much, so that later not a single team member is left out of the decision.8
The team conference is successful, when every voice is treated as an equal member.
4. The Team Leader
After having identified the voices, listened to them and to their dialog intensively, the process needs to be directed by a team leader. The team needs a leader who coordinates the inner dialog and combines the plurality of voices to one firm and clear intention.
Leadership according to the model of “The Inner Team” demands self-awareness and openness to listen to the plurality of voices inside of teams. The leader or the head of the team is the one in our mind that
affiliates the voices of the team members and considers them as part of the consciousness.9
We recognize the leader, because
we identify ourselves with that authority, which stands above the whole and strives for unity.10
In spite of all the inner plurality, in the end, we say ‘I’, not ‘We’. That is the voice of the team leader. Hence, the team leader’s function consists of control, mediation, integration, conflict management and communication (inward and outward). He launches and directs the team conference, challenges the team members to speak up openly and coordinates the plurality of opinions and emotions. At last, he is the one who articulates the statement of the team. Therefore, a strong inner leadership overcomes insecurity, disharmony, disintegration and confusion within a team and guides it to communicate and act authentically and successfully.
5. The Inner Team in the Coaching Process
A case study:
“A Writer’s Block”
This case is taken from a peer coaching experience that took place during the CPCP training program at ICA from Dec. 2010 to June 2011. For the sake of anonymity, the name of the client has been changed.
Since she went to High School, Andrea had problems writing papers and essays. Whenever and whatever she had to write, she was experiencing tremendous inner struggles. She doubted her ability to express herself. She was afraid of failure. The white, empty paper frightened her. She skipped classes and credits at college in order to avoid humiliation and failure.
Twenty years later, she is confronted with the same conflict: she has enrolled in a training program that requires writing papers. Fear and insecurity rise up again. Yet, this training is essential for her professional advancement. She has to face the conflict and, therefore, seeks the support of a life coach.
During the coaching session, the coach encourages her to set up a team conference. What kind of voices does she hear, when she is confronted with her issue? What do they say to her? In fact, the coach supports her in this process, but it is her inner team leader who opens the inner dialog, manages the discussion and comes up to a conclusion. Therefore, the client is in charge of the coaching course. Andrea perceives all kinds of feelings, impressions and statements. It is a mixture of everything – fears, doubts, anger, hope, and ambition. As she expresses what she feels and thinks, she recognizes there is not just one but there are several voices, each one with a particular message. She gives them names.
1. The Fearful Daughter:
I have failed so many times before I am never able to write a paper ever in my life.
It is her voice as a child. As she used to be afraid to fail in the eyes of her parents who were very ambitious, she is still afraid of not being good enough.
2. The Career Woman:
I have to write the best and most satisfying paper.
She wants to perform well and reach high standards. Success and acknowledgement in her professional life are very important for her.
3. The Loving Friend:
Even if I don’t write a good paper, I am still a very nice and good person. Is it so important to write papers, anyway?
4. The Strict Teacher/Trainer:
If I do not hand in the required paperwork, I will not be certified and qualified as a coach. What will I be doing professionally?
5. The Harsh and Unfriendly Old Woman:
I have not worked hard enough. If I had worked hard enough, I would write my papers accurately and promptly without having to write any draft. Stop writing bad papers!
Having named the voices, Andrea can feel into their energy. She can ascribe a voice to a real person, she can localize where a voice is coming from. She can analyze its significance in this particular situation. The voice
that sounds most dominant and forceful to her is the voice of ‘the harsh and unfriendly old woman’.
The voice says:
Stop! What does the ‘Stop!’ mean? Where is the voice saying ‘Stop!’ coming from?
Feeling the energetic power of the voice, Andrea hears her grandparents talking to her as a child. The memory of her past, when her demanding, strict and authoritarian grandparents imposed their values and beliefs upon her, is breathtaking, but also relieving. She realizes how they made her stop, even though she was striving to move on. They expected her to be successful in school, but, in their way, not respecting her individual and special manner to approach and experience life. As a result, doubts and fear of failure were blocking her all the way to her adult life. To her, writing a paper meant to do it in her grandparents’ way: she did not know that writing drafts, rewriting a paper again and again, was regular and normal.
From the context of the voices, she understood that the ‘Stop!’ was not hers. She had “inherited” it from her grandparents. It was their ‘Stop!’ Because it did not belong to her, she realized she could get rid of it. This realization released her from her blockage. As a result, she wrote her papers and finished her program.
In this manner, Andrea was able to find an interpretation for all her voices. The voice she could rely on in crisis was ‘the loving friend’, whereas the ‘career woman’ would push her forward in her career. Andrea’s case demonstrates how “The Inner Team” can be relevant in the work with underlying beliefs. It can help to overcome the blockages by identifying the voices that inflict underlying beliefs on us. Like Andrea,
many people, even highly successful people, harbor deep beliefs contrary to their personal mastery. Very often, these beliefs are below the level of the conscious awareness.11
And as Andrea,
most of us hold one or two contradictory beliefs that limit our ability to create what we really want.12
Awareness and openness are the essential keys in working with “The Inner Team” and on our way to inner freedom, because
structures of which we are unaware hold us prisoner. Once we can see them and name them, they no longer have the same hold on us.13
In most other cases, “The Inner Team” will be applied when a person has a problem to communicate a decision, a wish, an opinion, or just a statement. It then helps to act with a clear and precise attitude, to speak with a firm and self-confident voice, because
the person who is aligned with himself can encounter the world with unified forces. They grant him the charisma of unambiguousness, confidence, ease, aplomb, authority …and in connection with them assertiveness.14
6. The Achievement of Authenticity with The Inner Team
Life and Leadership Coaching supports clients to emerge as happy, content and creative individuals. Peter Senge defines this goal as
personal mastery, (which) goes beyond competence and skills… It means approaching one’s life as a creative work, living life from a creative as opposed to reactive viewpoint.15
Striving to be authentic and aligned with oneself is innate to every human being. Authenticity asks for the balance between the inward world and the outward world, meaning how we communicate and act in the world around us. We call this “personal mastery” or “presence”. According to Alan Seale
presence is the energy essence that you radiate or emanate, either as an individual or a collective, simply by being who you are… It is how you show up in the world…16
As a coaching tool “The Inner Team” supports the client to find the “place of profound alignment”.17 It is a place of inner clarity and certitude.
The recognition of the intentions that strive or block him inside is the client’s first step to make himself understood in the world around him. Last but not least, it is the first step to personal transformation, or in Alan Seale’s words to
Transformational Presence… (which) includes exploring ideas, beliefs, and concepts without judgment. It requires listening on many levels of awareness – listening for the voice of the soul, for the words underneath the words…18
The effectiveness of coaching profoundly depends on the tools used in the coaching process. Like a doctor, the coach carries a toolkit that can be applied depending on the client, the situation, the issue, and the need. Therefore, even if identifying and analyzing the voices can be a cumbersome and tedious process in certain cases, “The Inner Team” serves as a powerful tool to encourage “personal mastery”, “transformational presence” or the emergence of an authentic, happy human being.
Miteinander reden: 3, Friedeman Schulz von Thun, Rowohlt Taschenbuch Verlag, Sonderausgabe April 2011 (This book has not been translated into English. The quotes in this paper were translated by the author of this paper.)
The Fifth Discipline, Peter M. Senge, Crown Business, March 23, 2006
Create A World That Works, Alan Seale, Weiser Books, May 1, 2011 http://www.gwg-ev.org/cms/cms.php?print=1&textid=752,
Schulz von Thun: Vom zerstrittenen Haufen zum Inneren Team miteinem Interview mit Professor Schulz von Thun
(Written in German. The quotes were translated by the author of this paper.)