Feeling a little unsure about the idea of group coaching? That’s exactly how I felt when I first experimented with it. I’d had the benefit of being coached individually at work, and loved the freedom of thought it allowed, the chance to talk about my life, hopes and fears, and how I was going to move forward to become the best I could be. It was liberating to be honest. I’d never had a conversation like it before. One of the decisions I made with the help of my coach was to train to become a professional coach myself.
Great coaches walk the talk! What I mean is they actively engage in the process of coaching for their own growth, their development as a coach, as well as for their clients. When I completed my training, I had to participate in a group session. “What the…!!” My inner voice started to grumble very loudly! It was excruciating!! As an introvert, talking to one person and building a strong confidential relationship with them was one thing, but opening up to a bunch of other people who may judge me and laugh at me was massively disturbing! But now I’m a convert. Every time there’s an opportunity to participate in a group session I jump at it. I’ll tell you why.
No-one judges or laughs at you. Everyone is there for a common purpose, to grow and learn from each other. From a structure point of view all group sessions should start off with a contracting piece which sets the scene with regards how you’re going to work together and, most importantly, deals with the issue of confidentiality. Everyone should have a chance to speak but you only have to share what you’re comfortable with sharing. However, as with most things in life, the more you give, the more you get back in return.
The greatest benefit for me in group sessions is learning about myself through listening to other’s stories, challenges and dilemmas. You may identify with someone else’s challenge, some part of their story may resonate with you or remind you of something relevant to the choices you want to make, and in hearing what others have achieved or the actions they have taken may inspire you or give you a new idea to apply to your own situation. The other significant benefit is having the power of multiple brains and perspectives in the room.
Depending on the nature of the session, group coaching can allow you to ask for advice and practical suggestions from the other participants in terms of brainstorming what your options could be or gathering feedback on your own ideas and how you might put them into action. Some sessions can feel very much like an interactive workshop. Others are quite structured, such as the action learning approach. The commonality between these different approaches is utilising the power of the group to enable you to step forward with your own challenges and dilemmas.
Some find individual coaching more daunting than group coaching, as all eyes really are on you! Others find it more comfortable to start off in a group setting, get a feel for the process of coaching, experiment in a safe environment where you’re “all in it together” before taking the step towards one to one coaching. The choice is yours!
Whatever your feelings, excitement or fear, just know that you will be 100% supported by both your coach and the other participants. There is no right or wrong. Get curious, be open to what might be possible and be prepared to experiment for a while.