The power of collective thinking to workshop business challenges is a game-changer. Different voices and a diverse range of experiences all contribute valuable ideas to help develop innovative solutions.

We see this happening on a regular basis in our coaching work, which is why we offer both group coaching and team coaching, as well as our 1:1 programmes. 

With group coaching and team coaching sounding similar, however, we find there is often confusion about the differences between these two coaching styles and clients are unsure which approach they should invest in. 

To help you decide which coaching style will be most beneficial to your people and your organisation, we’ve written a concise guide to the differences between group coaching and team coaching. If you would like further help in deciding which coaching approach is best suited to your unique business needs, please reach out to us.

Group coaching and team coaching defined

While there are certainly similarities between group coaching and team coaching, there are also some fundamental differences, both in the skill set required from the facilitating coach and also in the outcomes that the sessions are designed to deliver.

With this in mind, the first thing we always ask our clients is: “What are you hoping to achieve through coaching?” We work through this together with our clients. Once you’re clear about your end goal, developing a coaching programme that will deliver is much more achievable. 

As a starting point it’s worth taking a moment to appreciate the definitions of what constitutes a group vs a team.

According to Collins English Dictionary, a group is defined as “a set of people… which are considered together because they have something in common”, while a team is “a group of people organised to work together”.  

A group comes together for a reason or cause; they may or may not know each other or be connected with each other.

A team, on the other hand, has a commonality of purpose and are connected with one another. Usually, they come together for a common goal that needs completion. 

Coaching for a group or a team

With these definitions in mind the distinct coaching intervention aims to solicit different outcomes.

In a group coaching session, the facilitating coach will assist in uncovering and utilising the knowledge of a group of individuals who have been brought together by a common theme. The coach will help them use this collective knowledge to achieve their individual goals.

Team coaching is the art of facilitating and challenging an existing team to maximise its performance and enjoyment in service of meaningful organisational goals. 

Both approaches differ from 1:1 coaching as they create a learning environment where delegates learn from each other through shared thinking, as well as creating an accountability to each other through high challenge and support. 

Each participant benefits from others’ perspectives, stories, goals, challenges and beliefs. The collective thinking can lead to some incredible insights and outcomes on behalf of the individual as well as the group or team.

Within the two approaches, the role and skills of the coach must differ:

Group coaching

  • The coach partners with the group to create a trusting and psychologically safe environment to enable individual thinking and reflection, which is generated and shared to benefit the group. 
  • Through the use of coaching methodologies and peer-to-peer coaching, growth and development is achieved at a personal and individual level. Delegates both support and challenge each other through discussion and storytelling.

Team coaching

  • The coach is an observer of patterns and behaviours and helps to raise the awareness of these, as well as blindspots and opportunities, for both the individuals and the team as a whole. 
  • They challenge the team to consider their strengths, relationships, processes and performance and explore how these could be developed in support of the purpose of the team. 
  • The coach helps to build trust within the team and psychological safety to enable insights through a combination of openness, vulnerability and reflection. 
  • Very often two coaches are required: one to lead the thinking, the other to observe the team dynamic.

The table below summarises the main differences between the two coaching methodologies:

Group

Limited to 6-8 delegates

May or may not work together

Share a common purpose but may have differing coaching goals

Individuals have a common theme, competency or skill that they want to develop. They have their own individual agenda, challenges and goals

 

Individual awareness and growth

Potential coaching themes:

  • Developing specific competencies, for example, leadership or communication
  • Developing behavioural traits, for example, overcoming imposter phenomenon or confidence building
  • Overcoming challenges, for example, managing difficult people or coping with stress

 

 

Team

Flexible

Connected via the same business goal

Share the same coaching goals

“A small group of people with complementary skills who are committed to a common purpose, performance goals and approach for which they are mutually accountable.” (John Katzenbach and Douglas Smith, The Wisdom Of Teams: Creating The High-performance Organisation)

Individual awareness and growth, alongside team performance

Potential coaching themes:

  • Developing trust among team members
  • Effectively managing conflict and commitment to key goals and objectives
  • Defining the purpose and vision of the team to deliver the organisation’s objectives
  • Realising the value of diversity through inclusivity
  • Building resilience
  • Defining team behaviours and values
  • Driving change initiatives and engaging with stakeholders

If you would like to learn more about how Equal Talent can help you achieve your personal or business goals through coaching, please get in touch.

We’ll be happy to talk through your individual needs to develop a programme that is right for you, whether that be group coaching, team coaching or 1:1 coaching.

 

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