The inner team by F. Schulz von Thun is an enormously helpful tool in business coaching, introspection and analysis, intrapersonal and sometimes even interpersonal work. I have come to appreciate this tool in coaching sessions with individuals in team constellations or leadership positions where un-transparent circumstances or interactions present themselves. While I think it is a nice extra bonus that the origin of this tool lies in Hamburg, where I live, there are so many aspects of this tool that appeal to my work ethos and to my customers, that I would like to share some of the basics with you today.
People commonly experience complex reactions to situations, other people, circumstances, that can encompass a myriad of emotions, some contradictory, some in keeping with each other. Something like feeling like you have a little angel on one shoulder and a little devil on the other, with competing needs, driving you in opposite directions. Often people weigh their options in these situations and contemplate their inner drivers. Schulz von Thun described this inner plurality by using the metaphor of an inner team for the many inner voices, urges, drivers that we experience in situations where our values, past experience and other aspects of our personality are affected.
Using the inner team in business coaching to support better understanding
Much like a team of people in any organization, the inner team can be considered to be made of many different personalities, who have different needs, and can be, as a real team, be managed by their manager, the person they belong to. Each member of the inner team represents a message for its owner. Sometimes these are straight-forward and easy to identify, such as ‘You must not be late!’ and sometimes they can be harder to discover. They can range from representing values such as punctuality, performance and politeness to creativity, modesty and being a team player, and more.
The inner team metaphor can be used to make these inner aspects more tangible and create the opportunity for individuals to work with their inner team in resolving situations that have previously seemed intractable to them. Much as members in any team, members of the inner team can be in conflict with each other, creating situations causing stress to individuals and leaving them in a state where they cannot find a solution for themselves or are not able to discover perspectives for themselves that could lead to a positive resolution.
As a business coach, I support individuals and leaders by identifying situations where the inner team is appropriate and ease the identification of the inner voices driving my customers in different directions. Using that information, my work together with leaders and team members using the inner team in business coaching supports the resolution of unpleasant, stressful situations more quickly, effectively and positively, making inner conflicts tangible and bringing new solutions to the table.