Group and 1:1 coaching are not so different! When coaching a group, the group becomes the client and as coaches, we must continue to be open and flexible: We must be attentive to the client’s needs instead of bringing our own agenda to the table. While as group coaches we often adopt a variety of modalities (facilitation, teaching, coaching), it is imperative that we are aware of the hat we wear in each moment and that we share those with our group members.
Creating psychological safety is key in a group setting and one aspect of it is ensuring that there is 100% confidentiality in each and every session. We encourage you to remind your groups at the start of each meeting that they are expected to follow this rule in order to allow each other and themselves to be fully honest with the group. If you record sessions, make sure you have each member sign a confidentiality clause and that they all agree to be recorded.
As the group evolves, it is your responsibility to ensure group members are holding themselves and each other accountable to the norms and agreements you have co-created. You must give the group the power to regulate itself and ensure that you step in and lead a discussion on the topic if this is not happening. Regular check-ins with the group, specifically focused on its evolution and processes are necessary.
Many coaches believe that they must be at the center of the session, and teach the group because members of the group signed up to work with them. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Even if members signed up to work with you specifically as a coach (e.g. in a private setting vs. a work environment), it is your role to remind them that group coaching is about the group and about coaching!
Remember that your expertise is in asking excellent questions to provoke insight and take each member closer to their goal. It is not in guiding or providing advice for the group members! You are not a teacher or mentor or consultant, rather, your role is to listen deeply to the group’s reflections, draw out themes and further the reflection. Group Coaching HQ students and graduates can refer to the ICF competencies in group coaching document for a deeper understanding of coaching skills in a group context.
In the same way that individual clients bring their own wisdom to the session, so does every single member of the group. Always regulate yourself so that you take a step back and let the group take the lead to share their own wisdom. There are many techniques to do this, including peer coaching, breakouts or mastermind moments.