Blogs / 12 Dec 2023 5 min

The power of group coaching for women

By Sharon Peake, Shape Talent Founder & CEO

I must confess, when I started in my coaching journey I always believed 1:1 coaching was the most powerful coaching intervention. We started experimenting with group coaching a few years ago – while it was still quite a new approach – and soon realised the enormous power of it. We saw women transform, grow their ambition and confidence, and build powerful networks and alliances. And it had the added benefit of being more cost effective, and thus more scalable, for organisations. Now days, I am a complete convert to group coaching and it has become a cornerstone of the Shape Talent women’s development programmes.

We are very proud of our coaching programmes and the transformative outcomes they achieve for our clients. As one of the few consultancies with considerable expertise in this space we recently lifted the lid on our approach and methodology in a webinar showcasing our approach. You can watch the webinar recording here.

If you’ve not yet used group coaching in your business, here’s a quick introduction as to what it is and why it could help you.

Defining group coaching

Group coaching is a collaborative process, conducted with small groups and taking place over a limited time period, using coaching principles to work with a group of individuals on their personal goals.

How group coaching differs from team coaching and small group facilitation

In the case of team coaching, the coach works with an intact team that have a shared goal. For group coaching, the group don’t need to know each other – they aren’t a team – but it helps if they have some form of shared focus, goal or lived experience. Team coaching also tends to focus on working with the dynamics of the team and how they work together in the pursuit of their shared goal whereas in group coaching, individual participants bring their individual goals to explore in a group setting.

Group coaching has some similarities to small group facilitation. However, one of the key differences here is that in group coaching, participants can also take on the role of peer coaches, taking it in turns to coach each other on the issues presented. This doesn’t tend to happen in small group facilitation.

The benefits of women-only coaching programmes

Women-only coaching programmes provide a safe space for women to develop their leadership identity (read more about why we focus on women-only for our programmes). The benefits include:

  1. Enabling women to experience a sense of belonging – they appreciate that they are not alone in the barriers and challenges they are facing in their career.
  2. Enabling women to explore their identity as a woman and a leader and all that this might bring given that societal stereotypes mean that what is expected of women and what is expected of leaders don’t always align.
  3. Enabling improved access to networks which we know from our Three Barriers research is a critical challenge for women in leadership

Four key outcomes from group coaching

Participants in group coaching are found to benefit in four key areas:

  1. Affective outcomes – which is in essence how a participant feels. This can include increased confidence, self-belief, wellbeing, self-awareness, self-acceptance, empathy and more.
  2. Cognitive outcomes – changes to how the participant thinks. A key example here is increased self-awareness, so participants know themselves better after group coaching.
  3. Performance outcomes – we tend to see an improvement in the performance of the participant following group coaching.
  4. Skills-development – improvements in soft skills such as communication.

At Shape Talent, our group coaching methodology takes an integrative approach, drawing on solution-focused, cognitive behavioural, psychodynamic and other approaches, drawing on the diverse skills, training and experience of the coaching team.

In our new white paper, The power of group coaching for women, you can discover the five key principles to our group coaching design as well as a case study with some incredible results, including:

  • Progression rate of 71% within 12 months completing the programme.
  • 92% of participants and 96% of line managers would recommend the programme.
  • 83% of participants have increased their impact as a result of the programme.

To find out more about our research, including the two factors that influence coaching outcomes and the key things that organisations should pay attention to when adopting group coaching, download our white paper. And if you’d like to discuss how group coaching can help your organisation, do get in touch with me.

Sharon Peake is the founder and CEO of Shape Talent Ltd, the diversity, equity and inclusion experts for complex multinational organisations who are serious about gender equality – and what it can achieve for their business.

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