Coaching provides many options to grow and develop new leaders for organisations in various sectors in the UK across the public and private sector. From small businesses and start-ups to international corporations, they are all adding group coaching to their development programmes. Why?
Companies see coaching as a great way to enhance and accelerate their leadership development, embracing and enhancing new talent coming into the organisation and looking ahead to where they want the company to go – their ultimate goal and objectives.
I say ‘goals’ and ‘objectives’ because they are not the same thing. A goal is a specific, measurable outcome that provides the company’s ‘objectives’ as the outcomes.
Goal – to increase sales by 15% by December 2017
Objective – to overtake our competitors and be the first/best in our field of (products/services); to provide more income for stakeholders; to have funds to expand into a new area
The focus that setting a clear goal is understandable for all employees and teams, and their accountability in achieving that goal should be too.
The leadership culture in the organisation is often established over years and someone new coming in can have a new perspective – sometimes threatening, definitely discomfiting, and also beneficial -because change is good, isn’t it?
Setting measurable goals and objectives too, includes the accountability for people – for teams, managers and individuals, which supports ongoing learning and development – of achievement. And people want to achieve for themselves and their employer/company because this signal their personal success as well as belonging to the successful team/company/industry too!
Coaching increased awareness and identifying actions for emerging, new in post and established leaders alike within the company.
Group coaching can be a supplement to or an integral part of the leadership development process in large or small companies, in all sectors.
Group coaching conversations are fairly intimate with perhaps 4-8 people meeting regularly hopefully to continue developing the strategy, the goals and objectives and the culture they want to project outward to the teams and individuals they work with. This small group enables people to speak up and be heard, to hear others and process information for their needs and filtering it according to their preferences and opportunities – their input in to the company’s long term plans.
Group Coaching provides benefits such as:
- Enhanced self-awareness for those attending
- Improving emotional intelligence and opportunity to practice this to take back to their teams
- Providing shared focus on people’s goals and objectives, their own personal development
- Building trust in new relationships, helpful and effective networks within the organisation that can only improve communication and understanding, and positive work on projects
- The learning and application of new leadership skills and ideas they can embed into the developing culture that then will flow down to the employees, teams and outward to customers and stakeholders
Positioning Group Coaching in training and development
- Creating a group coaching programme for upcoming future leaders, new managers, supported by the established leadership team and development programme in the company.
- Meeting schedules can be fortnightly at most (to allow goals to be set and achieved, feed back provided and accountability monitored), or even monthly, even quarterly to allow progress and embedding understanding. Updates more often can be scheduled online, email and project management programmes too.
- Extending the learning through ongoing conversation, exploring options in team settings and with other individuals who show potential and interest – an even further long term goal for leadership planning and resources
- Embedding Group Coaching into the Learning & Development plans for the company – this can be taken down to team level such as a focused space for peer dialogue in team or project meetings, to take advantage of the often hidden ideas and drive that people hide behind their ‘role’.
Group Coaching Approaches for Leadership Development
There are a range of methods for coaching and “one size doesn’t fit all” when it comes to groups, a fallacy to believe only one model will meet the diverse realities of groups and the wide range of business and industry sectors there are.
For example, a mix and match approach with an underlying format for the meetings could also include:
1) Laser Coaching
One at a time each person is coached for a few minutes in front of other group members to focus on their remit or a current business challenge, a new opportunity or option. Each group member should have the opportunity to be coached this way – you might be surprised what comes out of this technique.
2) A Weekly Theme for Organisational Priorities
This approach allows the group to bring in different coaching questions, with a different or quite specific focus that needs to be developed and agreed. Examples might be ideas on marketing a new product, sharing experiences like peak experiences, previous sector experiences to bring in and share, or value systems for the company and teams, for individuals within those teams and the leadership group – there might well be a discrepancy no-one noticed before…
3) Collaborative Activities
The focus in group coaching can be shaped by the group to meet their collective needs and practices, their own culture and objectives e.g. project management, team focus and responsibilities or collaborative learning which becomes the coaching focus.
Recurrent Themes in Group Coaching for Leaders
Coaching conversations might often focus on the company’s:
1) Vision for the future where you could consider what tools and approaches you have for working with vision.
2) Leadership Style(s) where the group explores the individual styles and what works or doesn’t and why. The various assessment and profiling systems available can be used at different points to look at these for greater awareness and understanding, and development of course.
3) Values of the company, leaders, teams and individual employees as well as the customer-base perhaps as they are your ‘leaders’ too in drawing out what they want and how they want to work with you.
- What’s important to me as a leader? To my team/individuals? To our customers?
- What do these/our values look like in action – now? In future? What needs to change?
4) Strength within the organisation
Again, there are various techniques you can use, and questions you could explore might be:
- How do we/should we use our strengths?
- Are they enabling their team to use their strengths? If so how? If not, how could we do this?
- What strengths are missing and required to move forward?
Strength comes as a collective – from the top and down to the lowest level of employees. This is often forgotten or ignored – yet these are often the people in touch with the customers inconspicuously with an unacknowledged power to win or lose orders and damage or enhance company image!
5) Other areas group coaching will be useful might include:
- Managing difficult conversations within the team e.g. redundancies, restructuring, warnings, customer issues
- Confidence-building in the team, in the company ‘family’ and the goals you are aiming for – roles and responsibilities, impact and benefits, understanding and seeing the whole vision – the bigger picture
- Change management – individual supervision at the base, sharing via departmental briefings and company newsletters more holistically. People want – need – to heard, understood, considered.
- Building your network within and outside the company – every team manager leads their team and this is a key skill to have and to use, often not leveraged enough or well enough to make the difference it could