Updated: Jan 5
Coaching is multifaceted that can specialize or focus on a very wide range of applications. That’s why I love it so much. But oftentimes, that’s also why people are often confused. Today, we are going to focus on three main coaching methodologies: Individual Coaching, Team Coaching, and Group Coaching.
By listing these three specialties in this order, you get an idea of the progression from a one-to-one type of coaching to a more extended typology involving different people. What they all have in common is that the coach maintains an awareness of their environment and those around them. In any of the three, the coach’s posture remains the same and they keep a highly empathic and intuitive connection with their clients and group members.
The International Coach Federation defines coaching as "… partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” This is applicable to the three coaching settings we are covering here.
Now let’s dive into the major differences, beginning with Individual Coaching.
This definition applies best to one-to-one coaching, which is characterized by:
An exclusive relationship between the coach and the coachee. The coach dedicates their full attention, intuition, expertise to the person in front of them. It’s an absolute focus of the coach’s whole being towards that specific client. The coach’s toolkit and their personal resources are at the service of the client’s needs and goals.
The surrounding environment is taken into consideration at the service of the individual needs of the client, as well as that client’s fulfillment and happiness.
The listening is deeper and internally focused. There’s space for personal reflection and introspection. The inner dynamics, patterns, and workings of that specific person become what the coach listens attentively to.
Individual Coaching can be focused on personal or professional development even if, more often than not, this distinction blurs away as an effective Coach always coaches the whole person and focuses on the person and not the problem. In this dimension of coaching, we pursue deeper kinds of shifts.
When we talk about Team Coaching, the stark difference from Individual Coaching is that:
Team Coaching involves an entire team, or a group of individuals working together in a regulated dynamic, towards a shared purpose. It’s the shared purpose that makes the team, not the team members. Team members can change but the focus, vision, and direction of the team remain unaltered and define the team itself. That said, beyond the shared purpose, a team is also a partnership where every member is accountable for their own and other team members’ success, wellbeing, and learning. It’s a living organism with definite agreements and processes among the team members who are in close relation to each other and interdependent.
In this setting, the Coach’s client is “The Team,” not the single team member. This doesn’t exclude the possibility of Individual coaching to some or all of them, but in that case, the coach changes their “hat” to respond to the dynamics described in Individual Coaching.
The primary goal is the development and learning of the team collectively so that it can co-create greater value with and for all its stakeholders.
Having the Team as a client implicates that the Coach’s attention has to be set on multiple levels, shifting from an individual approach to a systemic approach. That means that they approach each individual less deeply but widen their lens to include relational dynamics between the team members and the Team with its surrounding environment and stakeholders.
The main shift is therefore the passage from an individual focus to a collective focus. Additional layers of complexity are embraced in the coaching process.
Group Coaching is, then again, a different story. Born from the Co-Development methodology designed by Champagne and Payette, it’s done in groups but is very different from Team Coaching.
Group Coaching is a methodology that applies to groups of peers of typically 5-6 people. Once the group is formed, they meet regularly on dates they have initially agreed. During every session, there is one member of the group that is, in turn, the "client", and the rest of the participants who act as "coaches". The client brings an issue or topic to the attention of the group, and the coaches help him/her get clarity around their issue, create awareness, and go deeper through questioning, as well as share their experiences and perspectives. At the end of the session, the client can draw her conclusions and get help to create an action plan to solve her initial issue. The group holds her accountable for the agreed steps.
Participants in the group coaching cohort can be from a variety of organizations or the same organization. Team Coaching focuses on a specific team in one organization.
In this context, the Coach acts as a guide in the role of “Facilitator.” There they are responsible to regulate the process and make sure everyone respects the rules of “how we work together.” They also help the participants learn how to listen attentively, ask powerful questions, and clarify the issue the client presents to be sure to address the real problem.
Individuals in the group are also receiving personal coaching. Here the goal is the development and learning of individuals within the group - so they can better engage their stakeholders, as well as the collective learning of the group. At the end of each session, it is important for the group to reflect collectively on what they have learned during the time spent together.
Long-term benefits of Group Coaching are to build a network of trusted advisors, foster collaboration, alleviate loneliness in the decision-making process, promote inclusiveness, as well as enhance and leverage the value of diverse experiences and backgrounds.
Now, you can hopefully answer the question: What is the type of Coaching that is best for your needs?
The Group Coaching as described here is the one we offer at the Group Coaching Institute. Participants from our last cohort rated the program at 100% satisfaction. If you are ready to start the journey, you can sign up for our upcoming cohort below.
Join the Group Coaching Institute Cohort Today: https://www.groupcoachinginstitute.com/book-online