Business Brain Webinar: The Tavistock Model of Executive Coaching

System-dynamic coaching

On 4th May 2020, Templar Advisors hosted its latest Business Brain event with guest speaker Dr Robyn Vesey from Tavistock Consulting, who introduced the systems-psychodynamic approach to executive coaching. This approach is also called the Tavistock model, after the renowned institution where the approach was innovated.

Robyn positioned this unique approach within the history of psychology, and the theories that have given rise to different coaching models.  She explained the value of bringing together the depth of a relational psychodynamic approach with the systemic approach when supporting executives navigating complex organisational realities.

Drawing upon a unique heritage of psychology and workplace research the systems-psychodynamic approach enables clients to address the personal and organisational dynamics and so be more effective in their work roles.

Although Robyn’s background is as a Consultant Clinical Psychologist, she emphasised that coaching has significant differences from psychotherapy, and that executive coaches can work at an emotional level within the frame of coaching by focusing on work situations, and being attentive to the emotional boundaries, especially when working with relevant personal material.

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Robyn outlined a spectrum of executive coaching styles, from directive to non-directive, and highlighted how different models are more focused in particular areas, but that skilled coaches adapt their approach to specific client situations, in order to best deliver for their coachees and organisations.

Robyn explored the ways that taking a psychologically-informed approach, such as the systems-psychodynamic modelcan enable coaches to work in deeper and more meaningful ways.

“The depth of the systems-psychodynamic approach means that we pay attention to people’s experiences in their role, think with them about what they bring from their previous roles and career, and we ask questions about what really motivates people in their work,” Robyn explained.  

This approach is focused on non-directive methods, where the skill is in exploring meaningful territory, listening and making sense of those important things that may be going unspoken.

At the same time, the approach makes links between the different parts of an organisation’s system as well as across organisational boundaries, leading to a deeper understanding of issues and a broader exploration of possible approaches to adopt.

Key to the approach, Robyn said, is integrating the relational dynamics and the organisational: “when we understand the impact that below the surface dynamics can have on the functioning and performance of an individual and a senior team, we can help clients to find the most effective ways to manage and work with these dynamics, and so be more successful in their work roles”.

Joseph Bikart“The value of Tavistock’s unique approach to executive coaching is that it equips clients to identify and explore the deep roots of issues affecting their performance or professional prospects, whilst at the same time empowering them to come up with their own answers and solutions”, commented Joseph Bikart, Templar co-founder and Business Brain host who has also qualified from Tavistock’s senior practitioner executive coaching programme

Robyn finished by sharing the approach taken to developing executive coaches on Tavistock Consulting’s Executive Coaching Programme, which she will be directing this coming cohort.  She explained that the course uses the systems-psychodynamic approach when it comes to learning and development itself.

Emphasising that learning is a personal process, which is experiential, developmental and relational, Robyn shared how this course connects with the expectations, anxieties and desires that participants bring to their learning.  This makes the programme a personal development experience, as well as a thorough skills-based training in Executive Coaching using the systems-psychodynamic approach.

For those interested in Tavistock Consulting’s Executive Coaching Programme, you can register for the upcoming remote open evening.

For further information on Templar’s Executive Coaching services, please email:


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