How to Use Group Coaching To Enhance Leadership Development | By Jennifer Britton

Coaching provides many options to grow and groom the next cohort of leaders. And organizations across the public and private sector, small business and start-ups are all adding group coaching to their leadership development programming; they see coaching as a great way to enhance and accelerate leadership development.

Coaching's focus on goals and accountability helps create a leadership culture that supports ongoing learning, increased awareness and identifying actions for emerging, new and seasoned leaders. Group coaching can be a supplement to and/or an integral part of the leadership development process.

Group coaching conversations typically bring together small groups of peers in ongoing coaching conversations. Whether virtual or in person, group coaching is usually an intimate conversation space with most groups ranging from 4-8 people, although in person coaching groups can be as large as 15 (the maximum size the ICF considers to be group coaching).

Group Coaching for Leaders provides a number of core benefits including:

  • Development and enhanced self-awareness for both new and seasoned leaders
  • Providing a focus on people's leadership goals and development opportunities.
  • Development of new relationships and networks with other leaders in the organization.
  • The application and integration of new leadership skills and concepts, enabling a "living leadership lab".

Positioning Group Coaching to Enhance Leadership Development

Within organizations, there are many ways group coaching can be used to promote leadership and enhance leadership development. Some of the ways group coaching can do this include:

  • Creating a stand-alone group coaching program in which groups of leaders (usually 4 - 12) are brought together for regular group coaching conversations. These conversations could be every 2 weeks, monthly, every 3/6 months or annually.
  • Extending the learning and conversation following existing leadership training and curricula.
  • Embedding Group Coaching into leadership development For example if leadership workshops are held quarterly, virtual group coaching calls can be scheduled monthly to provide a focused space for peers to be in dialogue around the learning and integration of new skills and insights.

Group Coaching Approaches for Leadership Development

There are a range of methods or approaches to coach leaders in organizations - one size certainly "doesn't fit all" when it comes to groups. And it's a fallacy to think that only one approach or model which will meet the diverse realities of groups and wide range of industries today.

Some of the coaching methods or approaches that coaches can use include:

1) Laser Coaching in Groups

One at a time, a leader experiences short laser-like one-on-one coaching with the coach, in front of other group members. This conversation may only last 7 -15 minutes. The focus of this coaching is dependent on the leader and may involve a current business challenge or opportunity. If laser coaching is used, each group member should have the opportunity to be coached.

2) A Weekly Theme or Focus Shaped by the Client/Organizational Priorities

This is one of the more popular areas and I mention some of these themes below. The thematic approach offers us the opportunity to bring in different questions and coaching processes into the group space. For example, doing some work around values as a leader might involve a values checklist or leaders sharing their own peak experiences with each other.

3) Collaborative Activities

The focus in group coaching doesn’t always have to be on the individual leader. Groups shape their own cultures, and for some groups the collaborative learning process, steeped in peer sharing may be the central focus.

Recurrent Themes in Leadership Group Coaching

Part of the dynamic of group coaching is the co-created focus between the group and the coach. In addition to Leaders' individual learning plans and goals, the leadership group or organization may be interested in exploring a wide range of themes during the group coaching conversations. These could include:

1) Vision

As with many of our clients, leaders are eager to explore vision. It could be their vision, their team's vision, the organizational vision. Consider what tools and approaches you have for working with vision.

2) Leadership Styles

Questions you can ask include, What's my style as a leader? How does my style support my team? How does it hinder them?

Coaches may also draw on a wide variety of style related assessments for example "Everything DiSC", MBTI and the Personal Styles Inventory.

3) Values

Values are a core area for exploration. Questions you might consider when group coaching leaders include:

  • What's important to me as a leader?
  • What's important to my team – individually? Collectively?
  • What do values look like behaviorally in action?

4) Strengths

Don't assume that all leaders know their strengths. Whether you use VIA Strengths, StrengthsFinder 2.0 or something else, strengths are a rich area for exploration with all levels of leaders. Questions to explore include:

  • How are leaders using strengths?
  • How are they enabling their team to use their strengths?
  • What strengths are being overleveraged and becoming blindspots?

5) Leadership Competencies

Many organizations invest heavily in developing their own leadership competency model. Group Coaching can provide the opportunity for groups of leaders to explore leadership competencies in greater depth and consider how to put them into action.

6) Other areas group coaches may find themselves coaching include:

  • Difficult conversations
  • Presence
  • Growth edges
  • Confidence
  • Building your network.


This article just touches the tip of the iceberg in this area ripe with evolving best practices and opportunities.

I'll leave you with this question: What are the next steps you are going to undertake in considering how group coaching can support, and accelerate, the capacity development of the leaders and organizations you work with?

Stay tuned this summer for the launch of Jennifer's newest book, Effective Virtual Conversations. It's due out by the end of July and you can sign up here for the latest updates and bonuses

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Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton's book Effective Group Coaching was the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching. Celebrating its 15th year, 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, the program has helped hundreds of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings. Together both courses are approved for 18.75 CCEs with the ICF - learn more here.

Learn more about Jennifer here >>

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