A great coach can transform lives but what about the increasingly popular group coaching approach? The best group coaches know how to draw out the collective wisdom so that members can learn and develop together. This doesn’t just improve engagement and productivity, it drives longer-lasting change on a wider scale. We’ll discuss the top five use cases for group coaching.
Group coaching supports people
A well-run group session has the power to energize and motivate people to think and act differently. Even “acquaintances” tend to motivate and help each other, as this paper on Motivation, Learning and Group Work shows that social endeavor encourages collaboration and co-discovery. Add to that mix a skilled coach and the group members start getting a sense of belonging. The support the coach provides further motivates them to do their part of the work.
This is in contrast to team coaching where individuals are connected by a common mission and usually, common goals. While both team and group coaching program taps into the group’s insight, there are no pre-existing relationships in a group. As the previously quoted paper demonstrates, team coaches often also have to deal with competitiveness. This can sometimes lead to unhealthy behaviors not generally present in group coaching sessions. Without mutual history, people tend to be more on their best behavior.
The benefits of group coaching overlap with those of individual coaching in the sense that the overall goal is personal or professional development. The big difference with the group approach, or cohort model, is that people share and learn together. This helps everyone explore alternative viewpoints while normalizing their experiences. Furthermore, peer support is a powerful motivator for accountability. After all, no one likes being the only one who hasn’t done their homework.
With a group coaching membership model, each member can access various resources to encourage them to reflect and practice in the workplace. As they now have a connection with the other group members, they can also check in and support each other in their practice. This is what drives long-lasting change even after the group sessions have finished.
Three traits people develop in group coaching that are beneficial for your business:
- Self-reflection. Using reflective inquiry to evaluate the self, and problems in general, is what differentiates exceptional people, according to the research conducted and detailed in the book The Reflective Practitioner. A group coach further enables this process by asking powerful questions that challenge assumptions and encourage reflections on potential actions and consequences.
- Creativity. A group coach often leverages metaphors and visualization exercises that tap into a different part of the brain, unlocking greater problem-solving capabilities.
- Taking initiative. Being in a group where everyone is both vulnerable and goal-focused is motivating. By practicing in the safe space that’s created by the group, people further lose any inhibitions they might have to try things out in the workplace.
The top five use cases for group coaching
In-person or online group coaching programs build a higher performance culture because individuals work through exercises. They essentially practice working with others to create radically new solutions. This takes guidance from a top leadership coach who will also ground everyone in a common theme that brings each individual’s goals together. Through this, everyone experiences the power of co-creating solutions through reflection, structured goal-setting and action planning.
Structuring a group coaching session is a balance between meeting the overall business goals along with each individual’s goals. A skilled coach will do this by first meeting each individual separately. This gives the coach the information they need to start reviewing which brainstorming techniques and other exercises to apply. To give you an idea, other examples of exercises are listed in “what to expect in group coaching“.
Group coaching can be used for these commonly worked-on problems:
1. Conflict resolution
As detailed in the book Effective Group Coaching, perspective work is critical in any great group program model. It’s also particularly applicable when learning conflict techniques. For example, the coach will first ask participants to explain what perspective they are adopting in their conflict.
The shift then starts happening as the coach asks other participants to give their perspectives. Finally, each individual has the opportunity to stand in a new perspective and experience that new dynamic. This not only helps them connect with what other people around them are struggling with but it also encourages empathy. The problem with conflict is that people close in on their positions without considering that perhaps there’s a third way neither side has considered.
The final transformative question is for each group member to reflect on how they choose their perspective and what would enable them to choose differently. The aim is not so much to defuse conflict but to find a common ground from which to move forward.
2. Leadership Identity
A great coaching business builds future leaders by enabling them to envision what they stand for. Group coaches do this by leveraging visualizations and metaphors so that leaders can define who they will become. With their future selves in mind, leaders have a clear path for nurturing their strengths. Essentially, they can start embodying their USP and defining their best leadership vision.
In a group setting, leaders can also be creative and play around with what their leadership style feels like. As they get immediate feedback in a safe environment, they get to experience how their style impacts others. With the rest of the group, they can then continue to fine-tune their approach while having their minds opened up to other alternatives.
3. Communication skills
People in a group setting can learn how to work with others more effectively. They might not be a team but a successful group session still requires strong listening and communication skills. Moreover, each individual presents a different communication style to the group. Everyone benefits as they each experience a range of styles and can further expand their awareness.
Individuals also benefit from group work to overcome personal challenges. By sharing their experiences and reflecting on them with others, they gain awareness of their behaviors. The group feedback loop also offers insight into how others might perceive them.
As this study on improving self-awareness and engagement through group coaching further demonstrates, group coaching substantially increases self-awareness in terms of “reflective self-development, acceptance of self and others and proactivity at work”. Most importantly, the group sessions give people a safe place in which to face the complex emotions that usually come with this type of work.
5. Organizational effectiveness
Working with group coaching clients also hugely benefits the overall business because it encourages systems thinking. Not only do people hear multiple viewpoints from various departments but they also work on common challenges faced across the organization. Doing this without reverting to the hierarchy to fix it for them improves self-efficacy. It also boosts each individual’s self-confidence in their ability to problem-solve.
Another added benefit is that group members learn the art of questioning. A skilled coach knows how to encourage leaders to hold back from jumping to solutions. Instead, such a coach guides them to explore each other’s wisdom by asking skillful questions. They are then more likely to discover optimal solutions that better integrate across teams and departments.
How will you use group coaching for your business?
Leveraging the group coaching model can improve accountability, self-awareness, problem-solving and much more. Whether you choose a high-level or specific goal, a leadership or language coach guides a group to tap into their skills and knowledge to drive personal development.
Together, group members support and motivate each other to learn and grow. Not only are they then more engaged but they will be more productive and collaborative. Overall, they become stronger leaders who want to take both themselves and the business above and beyond.