How to Use Group Coaching for Leadership Development | By Jennifer Britton

Group Coaching for Leadership

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 group 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. And group coaching can be a supplement to and/or an integral part of the leadership development process.

What is group coaching? Well 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".

3 Ways Group Coaching can 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 you could use group coaching to do this include:

  • Create 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.
  • Extend the learning and conversation following existing leadership training and curricula.
  • Embed 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.

3 Specific 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 approaches, and I mention some theme ideas to focus on 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. There are lots of activities and options here.

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.

6+ Recurrent Topics 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. Some popular areas to focus on 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 might my style 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 you using your strengths?
  • How are you enabling your team to use their strengths?
  • What strengths are being over-leveraged or are in our 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 touches the tip of the iceberg in this area ripe with evolving best practices and opportunities.

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

If you liked this article about using group coaching for leaders, you may also like:

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 Image of business people in front of blue world map by ASDF_MEDIA via Shutterstock

Image of Group of Women Receiving Leadership Coaching in a Group by Studio Romantic via Shutterstock

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