CASE STUDY: Literacy Action

By June 12, 2017November 1st, 2017Case Studies

Obstacles to overcome:
High performers. A team of introverts who avoided addressing conflict. Staff hesitant to take risks.

Provide adult literacy programs to break the cycle of intergenerational low literacy
Length of Engagement
October 2010 – April 2011
Team Profile
Executive Director + Senior Team of 7
Atlanta, Georgia

The team scored itself at the beginning and end using the online Team Diagnostic assessment created by Team Coaching International. Team was coached as a group every few weeks following a customized change agenda. A variety of exercises addressed conflict resolution and role clarity. Team uncovered ‘team toxins’ – defensiveness, stonewalling, blaming – and agreed upon ways to address them. Published Team Agreements on new ways to make decisions together. Other tools included: the “Edge Model” to help team embrace a new identity for their bigger mission, and accept changes moving forward. They designed a new action planning process to set priorities.


• Already an extremely high performing team
• They were burned out, and spread in too many directions
• A team of introverts, they avoided addressing conflict and holding difficult conversations


• Align staff work more closely with the Strategic Plan
• Eliminate confusion about priorities
• Increase trust and the courage to contribute more
• Discover how to hold difficult conversations
Midway during engagement, their respected leader
announced their departure. The change agenda shifted to
succession planning, and how to keep productivity and
positivity high during the transition.



  • 15% Decision Making
  • 8% Alignment
  • 8% Goals & Strategies
  • 2% Team Leadership
  • 1% Proactive
  • 0% Resources
  • -6% Accountability


  • 24% Constructive Interaction
  • 15% Trust
  • 12% Values Diversity
  • 9% Communication
  • 7% Optimism
  • 1% Camaraderie
  • 0% Respect

For the first time, the team (without their former leader) presented to the board their impact in the community, and their vision for the new Executive Director. The board responded with a standing ovation. One team member stepped up as Interim Executive Director and a smooth transition took place.

MACRO VIEW: Before & After Results

What Participants Had To Say

I directly correlate our improvement in classroom outcomes—an increase of 132% returning students, so critical to seeing gains in literacy—to our team’s alignment and superior communication.

It may seem like a luxury especially in this economy to take time to do this work, but it does produce measurable results.

Our team has a creative energy. Everyone continually searches for ways to make her part go as smoothly as possible.

I immensely appreciate it when people step in to assist me and are not judgmental.