Over the last 3 months, I've spent most of my Saturday mornings with a wonderful group of coaches, under the guidance of Ana Paula Nacif, learning, exploring, and experimenting with Group Coaching.
Coincidentally, today I went to my local cycling group's Christmas ride and lunch. These are a wonderful group of ladies from our village who don't take cycling too seriously (think chats whilst getting muddy offroad, followed by cake - rather than zipping round the roads in lycra and drinking protein shakes). I reflected on how important that group had been to me over the last few years. When I first arrived in the village they welcomed me, helped me feel comfortable in my new environment, taught this city girl all the back routes through bridleways and woods and narrow country lanes, supported me through my many punctures and up those beastly hills, and provided desperately needed social interaction for me when working on my own at home all week. This morning, we went for a cycle, it was freezing cold, wet and grey. There is no way I would have gone out on my own, but thanks to the group, I got the exercise I needed to indulge in that lovely lunch guilt-free!
Unlike Team Coaching, people who come to Group Coaching may never have met each other before. They come together for a common purpose or theme, but each have their own individual objectives. Anyone who has been part of a group knows how sometimes group dynamics can get in the way of progress (and enjoyment!), but equally how when you get it right, you can learn so much more in a group than you can on your own. Everyone has a part to play in the success of the group, and the coach is there to hold the space, listen at scale, notice the golden threads, and reflect back to help progress the learning. Personally, I reflected on how delicate the balance was between making sure people were comfortable and felt safe to share, whilst at the same time providing that challenge, the learning which is on the edge of discomfort. I concluded that Group Coaching is not a method, but rather an art form, balancing those dynamics, creating that safe space but with an eye on the balance between challenge and support, so that the individuals in the room can reflect and learn from each other in a way they can't on their own.
Group Coaching can help you to know that you're not alone in the challenge that you're facing. You learn from each other, you also support each other, and provide mutual accountability.
In the new year I'll be piloting a Group Coaching programme for women who want to return to work in professional services after a career break, which was the topic of my research for my Organisational Psychology masters. If you know anyone who would be interested, please get them to drop me a message to register their interest at: firstname.lastname@example.org
I'd also like to highly recommend Ana's training programme at Quantum Leap for any fellow coaches looking to add this skillset to their toolkit!