What is Group Coaching? With 4 Key Considerations | by Jennifer Britton

Coach and Clients sit around table for what is group coaching

As group coaching continues to increase in popularity for coaches and clients alike, this article will help you understand what is group coaching, and whether it is a fit for you.

What is Group Coaching?

Grounded in our core coaching competencies, group coaching brings the coaching conversation into a small group context. It's an intimate conversation space, focused on goal setting, deepening awareness around key issues, taking action, and accountability.

Over the past few years, coaches have continued to expand the boundaries of group coaching. Group coaching provides an on-going conversation, which supports change over time. And whether you're a coach designing your own programs for parents, small business owners, exploring work-life issues or working with groups in an organization, group coaching offers many benefits to coach and client alike.

NOTE: for a group to be considered group coaching the ICF (International Coach Federation) has set the upper threshold group size at 15. Most groups are much smaller, particularly those in the virtual environment.

How does group coaching get delivered?

Group coaching can be both virtual and in-person—or a mix. Many coaches and clients enjoy the ease and convenience of virtual group coaching these days, as well as the connections formed with other participants, who may be several time zones and countries away.

The benefits of group coaching

Group coaching clients benefit not just from the coaching process, but also from peer learning with others—often referred to as collective wisdom.

This peer learning is often as important as the interaction with the coach. Many clients find coaching in a group puts them "less on the spot", giving them more time to reflect and integrate their insights. Masterful group coaches step back and create a strong group process framework for the coaching to emerge from.

Coaches may also find that group coaching is a powerful way to leverage their time and resources. It enables them to work with more clients over less time, potentially at a lower price point per person. In this way group coaching can be part of a coach's sales funnel leading group clients to the higher priced individual coaching.

Organizations may find benefit due to the scalable nature of the process, opening up communication between corporate silos or group members in different parts of the organization. Over time these relationships create a valuable network across an organization.

Group coaching can also be positioned as a training follow-on, supporting learners to with the transfer and application of their learning, creating an on-going accountability structure.

What group coaching looks like

Group coaching is taking many forms globally, given that it's driven and shaped by the various needs of different client groups. The group conversation can often feel "wide and broad" rather than the deep, deep dive of an individual coaching conversation. Here are some examples of group coaching:

  • Example 1: A group program for female leaders exploring work life issues could take the shape of ongoing in-person corporate group sessions over several months.
  • Example 2: Virtual group coaching for new managers as a follow-on to corporate leadership training, with conversations occurring monthly over a year.
  • Example 3: A three month bi-weekly program offered virtually for business owners, with a mix of small group and individual coaching sessions.
  • Example 4: A 6 week intensive weekly in-person group coaching program exploring confidence with a group of university or high school graduates, new moms or creatives.

4 key group coaching considerations

What creates the foundation for masterful group programs?

1) Lead from your core coaching skills

Group coaching is an extension of the coaching process.

So coaches will want to lead from their core coaching skills, as well as remembering the importance of curiosity, holding your clients resourceful and complete, focusing on action and awareness along with accountability.

2) Spend time getting to know your group members

Just as for one-on-one coaching, in group coaching the relationship between coach and clients (plural in this case) is foundational for success.

In group coaching there are multiple agendas at play, rather than just one. So in the lead up to my group coaching processes, I usually hold pre-conversations with each group member. I use this conversation to answer any questions they may have, as well as learn more about them, find out what brought them to the program and uncover their goals and success measures for our work together.

If you can't connect with people before the start of the program, you will want to ensure this happens during the first group conversation.

3) Create group coaching themes, topics or anchors

The first group coaching session should also identify, or confirm, the topic or theme areas the coaching will explore or use as anchors.

Unlike a 1-1 conversation where it's common to have the individual client set the agenda each time, it can be useful to have an anchoring theme each session which group members use to ground their thinking or focus each week.

For example, one week of a group coaching program for business owners may focus on business vision, or values. For leaders an anchoring theme may be strengths as a leader.

These common themes anchor and focus the conversation.

4) Recognize that different group members will have different styles

There will be multiple personalities and style preferences within your group. Consider where preferences lay in terms of visual, auditory and kinaesthetic learning styles, or those that learn by seeing, hearing or doing.

You'll also want to learn about individual group members' preferences in terms of how they process (verbally, in reflection, fast or slow). Then vary your approaches accordingly.


Now that we've explored what group coaching is, I'll leave you with some questions to ponder.

Questions for you to consider after reading this article

  • As you consider your own work, what might group coaching look like for you?
  • What do you think the benefits of group coaching could be to your practice?
  • What have you learned? What considerations do you want to incorporate?

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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 >>

Image of Small group of people coaching around table by Studio Romantic via Shutterstock


  1. Kofi Hagan

    Very helpful insights. Group coaching can become quite complex given the differences in the personalities involved and theunderlying multiple expectations. following the guidance provided should prove very helpful.

    • Emma-Louise

      Thanks Kofi! Jennifer is a great writer and really knows her stuff! Watch for another article from here in early July - and/or buy her book, it's a great resource! Warmly, EL

  2. Janice Landy

    Hi Jenny, really appreciate the sharing of your ideas and coaching tools. Group coaching is an area I've been interested for a while and have just started to write my approach - your website is an invaluable resource.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Janice,

      I'll pass your comments onto Jennifer! She really is an amazing Group Coaching expert. Thanks for taking the time to comment. We have 3 new articles coming from Jennifer over the next year.

      Warmly, Emma-Louise

  3. Asit

    Is there any comprehensive step-by-step training to learn how to conduct and set-up the platform for effective group coaching? I conduct One-on-one but haven't yet launched any group coaching program.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Asit, this would be a great question for Jennifer herself. From her website: "For more information on any of our programs or services, please contact Jennifer direct at (416) 996-TEAM (8326)or at info@potentialsrealized.com. We would be pleased to speak with you about your needs, and develop with you a customized solution. We look forward to hearing from you!"

      She also has a book "Effective Group Coaching" that could be considered the group coaching "bible". See it on her website here: http://www.groupcoachingessentials.com/pages/effectivegroupcoaching

      I hope this helps. Warmly, Emma-Louise

  4. Cormac

    I am about to begin a programme with a group of men in their 20,s from slightly underprivileged areas with little or no formal education, any advise out there.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Cormac, thank-you for your question - it's a big one! Advice? Well, take it slow. Give them plenty of time to connect with what matters to them - both in elapsed time as in don't expect miracles in the early sessions AND give them plenty of time to answer things. It can be hard to connect to feelings sometimes - especially if they've not had much practice. Create a safe space for sharing - set that up beforehand and get group agreement around confidentiality etc. Keep it simple, take it slow - or go at THEIR pace, don't expect too much early on. Instead build trust first and take it from there. Not much, but maybe it helps. Warmly, Emma-Louise
      PS. I recommend you sign-up for a course with Jennifer Britton, or get one of her books!

  5. Laura

    Thanks for sharing your wisdom! We've created a tool to sell and deliver group coaching programs and will be sharing your article with our coaches 🙂


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