Coaching Questions to Activate Strengths in Groups and Teams | by Jennifer Britton PCC

Happy Strong Team at Desk with Laptop & Papers

Persistence and resilience only come from having been given the chance to work through difficult problems. Gever Tulley

The power of strengths

In times of disruption, change and transition, strengths are an important element for your coaching clients to lean into. They can be an important doorway into alignment—and synergy—for both teams and the individuals within them.

With decades of research on strengths, Gallup 1 has found that individuals and teams that lead with their strengths are:

  • 6 times more engaged
  • 3 times more likely to report having excellent quality of life
  • 8.9% more profitable

And what's more, Gallup's data shows that just learning our individual strengths makes employees 7.8% more productive, while teams that focus on strengths every day have 12.5% greater productivity. 2

Team coaching: build team strength through complementarity

In teams, complementarity rather than similarity leads to team strengths.

Each team member will bring different strengths to the team. And if you work with teams, you'll likely be working with strengths on both an individual and team level.

Complementarity is where we identify and acknowledge what each person brings to the team and then see how these strengths work together to enhance the team as a whole. When we harness these strengths collectively, we're often able to activate team capabilities that people were not previously aware of.

Invite team members to consider these questions:

  1. What do you notice about your strengths collectively? How do they add up?
  2. What strengths can you rely on? Individually? Collectively?
  3. What do you notice about roles in the team and strengths?
  4. What strengths are missing across the team?
  5. What is the blind spot created by over-relying on your strengths?
  6. What strengths do you need to collaborate with, or bring in?

Group coaching: put a spotlight on individual strengths

Unlike Team Coaching, where individuals interact with each other regularly, your Group Coaching Clients may not interact with each other outside of group coaching sessions.

This means that, in Group Coaching sessions, your primary focus will likely be on individual strengths and how people are capitalizing on these in their own lives and worlds.

Invite group participants to ask themselves:

  1. How am I using my strengths on a regular basis?
  2. Which ones are not being used?
  3. Which ones are being overused, and could be creating a blind spot?
  4. Which, if any, were you surprised to see?
  5. Which one would you like to place some focus on and use more in your work or life in the next month or quarter? What changes would this entail?


Given that our strengths influence the way we naturally operate in the world, they often have an impact on the way we communicate, what we prioritize and how we find flow.

And during turbulent times, collaboration becomes even more important. So when people are part of a partnership or a team, it's important to explore the unique capabilities each person brings, and how these fit together.

Action: Consider how, in your next group or team coaching session, you might bring individual and team strengths to the surface.

References and Resources

1 According to Wikipedia: "Gallup Inc. is an American analytics and advisory company… known for its public opinion polls conducted worldwide... In addition to its analytics, management consulting, and Gallup Poll, the company also offers educational consulting, the CliftonStrengths assessment and associated products, and business and management books published by its Gallup Press unit."

2 From Gallup article How Employees' Strengths Make Your Company Stronger, Employees who use their strengths are more engaged, perform better, are less likely to leave—and boost your bottom line by Susan Sorenson

For more on the topic of strengths, check out:

  • StrengthsFinder 2.0 by Tom Rath
  • Strengths Based Leadership by Tom Rath and Barry Conchie
  • Go, Put Your Strengths to Work by Marcus Buckingham

And if you prefer Signature Strengths with the VIA Character Strengths Survey, check out:

  • The Power of Character Strengths: Appreciate and Ignite Your Positive Personality by Ryan Niemiec and Robert McGrath

Love Coaching Questions?

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Looking to take your group or team coaching skills to the next level? Consider the Group Coaching Essentials program or Team Coaching Essentials for Remote and Hybrid Teams. You can bundle either of these ICF CCE-approved programs with the Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum (10 CCEs) to create a robust learning and practice opportunity for your group and team coaching.
Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton, MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC, is the author of seven books and has influenced a generation of coaches in the realms of team and group coaching. You may have read her writing, including Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010), the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching; From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching; or her latest, Reconnecting Workspaces: Pathways to Thrive in the Virtual, Remote and Hybrid World (2021).

Since 2006, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, these programs have helped thousands of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings (public, corporate, non-profit). Together both courses are approved for 18.75 ICF CCEUs. These are the first two of 10 course pathways leading to certificates in Group and Team Coaching.

Potentials Realized's ICF-CCE programs are geared for aspiring group and team coaches, especially those wanting to work toward the New Advanced Credential in Team Coaching (ACTC) with the ICF.

Also check out our neuroscience course for group and team coaches (NLE-A), Team Coaching Essentials  and ACTIVATE Your Team and Group Coaching Superpowers. Prefer podcasts? Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast, which explores the many different pathways to remote work, business and leadership.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

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