Group coaching is an immersive, peer-based, coach-led leadership development experience designed to accelerate the expansion of crucial leadership capabilities among individual leaders to improve the way they lead themselves, lead others and lead for impact.

A group coaching model benefits every leader who participates by promoting long-term accountability and transparency — if you say you’re going to do something in front of witnesses, you’re more likely to follow through, right? It also encourages innovation as participants enjoy an expanded network of cross-functional partners with diverse perspectives that they can absorb during the group experience. With specific knowledge of the organization, they can work together to identify the most effective leadership and business practices and explore the mindset and behavior shifts they must adopt to leverage those practices.

Is Group Coaching the Same as Team Coaching?

In short, no. Team coaching refers to participant groups composed of members of a functional team. In group coaching engagements, the cohort is not a function-based team working toward a collective goal. Instead, each person is working toward their individual success while learning collectively from their coach and from each other.

Within group coaching engagements, participating leaders may feel more encouraged to share candidly about difficulties within their respective teams, because their teammates, direct reports or managers are not present. For example, if a participant has a hard time meeting their deadlines, they may be wary of sharing this challenge if their manager is part of the group. Or a manager may not feel comfortable sharing that they struggle with decision making if their direct report is present. Group coaching provides a safer space for development than team coaching can offer.

When participants feel safe enough to ask for guidance around the issues that they need support with the most, they can work through relevant obstacles. The goal of group coaching is for participants to elevate their thinking about leadership, which then elevates their behavior and ultimately increases their business impact.

How Does Group Coaching Enhance Leadership Development?

Leadership coaching is an integral part of leadership development for any business or organization. Employees want development opportunities, and many leave if they don’t receive them. While one-on-one leadership coaching is an effective tactic, group coaching programs offer distinct benefits. Here are a few benefits of group leadership coaching programs:

  • Provides opportunities to learn and practice new skills: In a group setting, both the coach and the group members see and feel the impact of the attitudes and behaviors in each learner. For instance, if a leader wants to work on building their communication skills, they can practice within the group itself, and the coach can provide third-party insight into misaligned habits.
  • Invites diverse perspectives: One of the most incredible benefits of group coaching is that each group member has different experiences, personalities and goals. With group coaching, the best answers to your problems might be right there in the thoughts and perspectives of the other leaders in the room with you.
  • Creates a support network: Group coaching offers members a rare benefit that one-on-one coaching cannot: a built-in support network. The benefit of the sessions can go beyond the engagement itself, as they offer an opportunity to build connections and trust in cross functional peers.
  • Increases accountability: Group coaching enhances the accountability of all leaders involved. Instead of an employee being accountable to a single coach, they are invited into accountability from multiple people. This increased accountability leads to increased efficiency when taking action.

Group Coaching Enhances Organizational Collaboration

Of course, these benefits are wonderful for the individual leaders participating in group coaching. But there are several ways in which group coaching enhances organizational collaboration as well:

  • Promoting collaborative attitudes: Because group coaching is neither a forum for competition nor a vehicle for evaluation, it allows group members to take the responsibility of helping their colleagues improve rather than simply pointing out their mistakes. The goal is to support each team member by providing constructive advice and feedback.
  • Providing real-time feedback: Group coaching enhances collaborative attitudes, but that doesn’t mean there is no room for discussing shortcomings. Rather, group members must be open to seeing themselves from their colleagues’ perspectives to improve. When members share feedback, it’s important to remember that too much positivity can lead to mediocrity and complacency, while too much negativity can lead to withdrawal and defensiveness. Leadership coaches can provide the structure for building self-awareness of challenges and openness to feedback from the group.
  • Encouraging active listening: Listening remains an essential aspect of learning, so group members agree to being each other’s sounding boards, giving accurate feedback about behaviors, sharing their views honestly and remembering to ask insightful questions.
  • Promoting a culture of trust and support: To increase learning agility and productivity, group members must have a shared commitment to maintain confidentiality. This is because a sense of psychological safety enables members to comfortably reveal their struggles or doubts and honestly share different opinions and perspectives.


Group coaching is poised to become the new normal in learning and development. Meet your developing leaders’ needs by incorporating group coaching into their leadership development programs.

Learn more about Sounding Board’s Leadership Labs Group Coaching.