Developing Highly Effective Self - Governing Teams | Ania Lichota


Ania has been contacted by a coach of the board level Complience Officer from one of the global banks. The boss said that he is going to retire in 18 months, he is not going to be replaced in a new structure and was looking for an intervention, which would enable his team to self-govern and step up to the new demands.

The interviews of the team members before the coaching revealed several challenges for this group (working together only for a year): 1. Colleagues did not really know each other and did not connect on human level. 2. The operating rhythm of the function was dominated by the to be retired boss. 3. Not all the plans were known to everybody. 4. There was a detectable level of fear of the unknown with regards to the new structure as well as being boss-less in 18 months.


The goal of the intervention was twofold, 1. To make the leaving of the boss a painless process and experience. 2. Enable and empower the team for agility, self-organisation and self-governance.


First team coaching session was all about meeting people in the room, getting to know each other on a deep personal level. Some of the surprised responses were ‘OMG, I have known him for 7 years and I did not know that ….’ ‘I thought I was his best friend … I wasn’t till now.’ ‘Wow I feel like we have just met, I now know where some of the styles come from.’

The following sessions included acknowledging the sense of fear and helped everybody deal with it in the open. On the back of this honesty we started talking about how would the team organise without the boss and what they want to start doing now to get ready for that, which gave them concrete action items to implement straight away and to stop doing some things and processes.

Some sessions were run without the boss, which provided a surprise factor for both sides showing to him that the team was more ready than he thought and demonstrating to the team that chief is not irreplaceable in all circumstances even when still here.


After the team really met during the first session something altered in the minds of individuals and people started seeing other people behind the titles, hierarchies and tasks; they were able to start relating to each other, the communication became much more straightforward and transparent. Focus on the inevitable change coming towards the team and facing it now helped design new meetings, new processes and to start exercising the TEAM muscle before the change physically occurred.

A shift in perception of how teams organise for effectiveness pushed everybody on a new path of thinking and experimenting with what’s possible.

And so

The boss is leaving in two months from now. There is a sense of sadness and calm. The drinks are planned, the gifts and card ready. One of the participants said: ‘I am really thankful and grateful to XXXX Bank in providing this program. It has been the best experience I have had in my executive life.”


Ania Lichota can be contacted through  or through Ania's profile.