A Multidisciplinary Approach to Developing Teams

Written by Dr. Kelly Whelan

Dr. Whelan is the Founder and CEO of Belem LLC. She specializes in partnering, empowering, and positioning executive leaders and teams for success by helping them design strategies that create stakeholder impact.

April 25, 2023

Developing strong, confident teams is essential for any successful organization. As organizations become more complex and dynamic, a multidisciplinary approach to team formation is becoming increasingly important. A multidisciplinary approach means involving not just the same type of people but utilizing individuals with diverse backgrounds and skill sets. This approach opens up a whole new range of capabilities and expertise to benefit the team in problem-solving, creativity, resourcefulness, and productivity.

There are several key considerations when it comes to developing teams using a multidisciplinary approach. Firstly you should consider the unique talents and experiences each individual has to offer to be able to collaborate effectively with one another. Secondly, emphasize building psychological safety and trust between members.

Engaging in meaningful conversations about strengths and weaknesses helps everyone know how they can contribute towards achieving collective goals. Team development should incorporate modalities that complement team dynamics, maturity, and needs.

A Biblical Approach as a Guide

Developing teams with a biblical approach is incredibly beneficial. This type of approach values unity, collaboration, and respect as core components of building relationships among team members. A biblical approach encourages an atmosphere of understanding and trust by emphasizing the importance of communication and cooperation to achieve common goals. Biblical teachings also guide handling disagreements among team members or difficulty reaching a consensus. Recognizing the power of humility, forgiveness, and grace during difficult times allows for effective problem-solving that reinforces individual strengths while fostering harmony within the team.

The use of scripture also aids in developing teams by setting expectations for behavior and providing a framework for making decisions that integrate faith-based principles with practical strategies for success. The Bible serves as an instrumental source for team guidance in any setting. The Bible clearly outlines how to best interact with one another and achieve collective success. Galatians 6:2 teaches us to:


“Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.”


This is an example of how important it is that teams rely upon one another so they can reach their goals. When one team member falls behind, it is essential that everyone else puts forth additional effort to help and make sure they are not left behind. Achieving success as a team requires everyone making sacrifices and taking responsibility for the actions of their team members.

Team Development Modalities

The umbrella of team development has many modalities to include team coaching. Like individual coaching, team coaching is not mentoring, consulting, discipleship, nor training and facilitation. And, while team building may happen within team coaching, there is still a distinct difference between team building which happens through exercises and team coaching which helps the team operate collectively, gain internal and external clarity, and provide value to its stakeholders.

The ICF lists the following table that unpacks the modalities of team development. You can find this within their website under competencies:

Team Development
Longer term, involves many modalities, many topics
Team Development Team Building Team Training Team Consulting Team Mentoring Team Facilitation Team Coaching
Time Frame Short1-5 days Short 1-5 days Widely variable Staccato, hours over a long period of time Short 1-5 days Longer term, months
Process Exercises Work with the team through a curriculum of material Consultant shares expertise Mentor shares Facilitate Dialogue Team and coach partner
Growth Area Enhanced relationships New knowledge or skill Additional insights New knowledge Clarity Achieved goals; Team sustainability
Team Dynamics; Conflict Resolution Minimal Minimal Minimal advisory Minimal Minimal Integral
Expert; Ownership Instructor Trainer Consultant Mentor Facilitator and team Team
v 13.11 | © 2020 International Coaching Federation 


Team Coaching Takes Flight!

While there are many modalities to stretch a team, team coaching is one of the latest and greatest training and application for coaches to step up and into. Team coaching has a complexity not all coaches, including seasoned individual or group coaches, are ready to engage in. There is much to know about this type of coaching and the entities that recognize team coaching certification and accreditation. Different modalities aid in creating a team session that brings transformation. The ICF adopted team coaching competencies in 2021, stating,

“Because team coaching is multi-faceted, team coaches must have a significantly broader knowledge base when working with teams than individuals” 

Being part of the first cohort to obtain the Foundation and Practitioner Level certifications under the tutelage of pioneers, professors, and practitioners in the team coaching industry, Professors David Clutterbuck and Peter Hawkins was enlightening and widened my lens of coaching.

The European Mentoring Coaching Council (EMCC Global) was the first coaching body to endorse a team coach certification. Further, in 2020, EMCC was the first in the world to graduate team coaches at the Foundation Level (ITCA), followed by a team coach Practitioner Level certification (ITCA-Practitioner) in 2021. Beginning May of 2023, those practitioners can further their knowledge and skills as they step into the Sr. Practitioner-Level 3 training of Complex Adaptive Systems by Clutterbuck Mentoring & Coaching International (CCMI), and the 5 Disciplines Model brought by GTCI (Renewal Associates). Team Coach training helps coaches to learn how to create a successful environment for teams to engage in their becoming.

Standards and Competencies

EMCC offered the first globally recognized standards for team coaching accreditation, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) was not far behind. ICF adopted team coaching competencies in 2021.

While ICF requires coaches to hold an active ACC, PCC, or MCC level credential, EMCC does not have a requirement for a coach who has completed team coach training to have an individual credential. That said, to attain EMCC levels for a team coach, there are specific, rigorous, requirements that must be reached.

Team coaching competencies are essential to understanding the practice of team coaching. It is important to be aware of the distinctions between ICF and EMCC competencies, as they differ. Additionally, it is important to remember that team coaching is an ever-evolving field, so staying up-to-date on the latest research and best practices is essential.

Both EMCC Global and ICF list core standards and competencies within their websites. Both verify educational training, skills, and experience before a team coach is fully recognized by the organization. And, both offer an advanced team coaching certification so coaches can build upon their initial training. Working directly with a number of teams is part of the requirements of fulfilling team coach requirements.

What This Means for You

Team coaching competency is an important factor for any organization seeking trained coaches for their people. The ICF and EMCC have developed comprehensive requirements to ensure that professional coaches possess the necessary skills, knowledge, and experience to partner with their clients. But, just like any training or accreditation, it is the coach who ultimately brings their whole self to the team. A team coach may have the team coach credential, and still be a lousy team coach. Coaching is still a buyer beware market. Just because someone is a coach does not mean they will provide the broad spectrum of knowledge, skills, and abilities to be successful. Team coaching is a messy space and not for the faint of heart! This newest modality may be a stretch for some, but the outcomes and distinct service component makes the climb for coaches worth it.

What strategies do you bring to your team development?

Leave a comment below!


*originally published in Christian Coaching Magazine

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