Team and Group Coaching – What are the Differences?

In today’s fast-paced and collaborative work environments, coaching has emerged as an invaluable way of supporting individuals with their personal & professional development. Whilst individual coaching has long been recognised and the ROI is steadily becoming more widely accepted, the concepts of team coaching and group coaching have gained significant prominence in the last few years. However, there is much confusion as to how the coach should be trained. Is it enough for a Coach to have a Certificate/Diploma in individual coaching and then be able to run team or group coaching events? Even if the coach has been recognised and holds a high-value credential within a recognised coaching regulator. Can a trained team coach also provide group coaching and vice versa?

Similar and Different

This article delves into some of the distinctions between team and group coaching, exploring definitions for both and seeks to highlight the effectiveness and benefits of each. I will share some of their unique advantages, highlight differences and start to discuss what are the necessary skills for team coaches and group coaches. Where are the subtle differences? Can a coach be both a team and group coach – you will be making up your own mind πŸ˜‰

How do you define each methodology?

In contemporary coaching practices, team and group coaching are emerging as distinct approaches, with different qualifications required. They both want to foster growth and development within organisations but differ in approach, scope and purpose.

What is Team Coaching?

Team coaching involves working with intact teams, focusing on enhancing their collective performance, collaboration and achievement of goals. It is a collaborative and transformative process that emphasises teamwork, communication and alignment towards shared objectives. Ultimately the goal is to achieve the identity of being a single entity (as defined by the ICF). A team coach facilitates the development of the team as a whole, rather than focusing solely on individual team members.

Benefits of Team Coaching

Team coaching offers numerous benefits to organisations, including:

βœ… Enhanced Collaboration: Team coaching encourages open communication, trust and cooperation among team members, resulting in improved collaboration and synergy.

βœ… Increased Performance: By identifying and addressing areas of improvement, team coaching enhances team performance, leading to better outcomes and results.

βœ… Improved Problem-Solving: Team coaching fosters a collective problem-solving mindset, enabling teams to tackle challenges effectively and make informed decisions.

βœ… Strengthened Relationships: Through team coaching, team members develop a deeper understanding of each other’s strengths and weaknesses, fostering stronger relationships and increased mutual support.

βœ… Sustainable Growth: Team coaching instils a culture of continuous learning and development within the team, allowing for sustained growth and long-term success.

Isn’t that Group Coaching too?

What is Group Coaching?

Group coaching, on the other hand, focuses on facilitating the growth and development of individuals within a group setting. It involves bringing together individuals with similar aspirations or challenges and guiding them towards achieving their individual goals. Unlike team coaching, group coaching primarily focuses on individual progress rather than team progress (although recognising individual progress will impact group progress!)

Benefits of Group Coaching

Group coaching provides several benefits to participants, such as:

βœ…Peer Support: Group coaching often creates a supportive and collaborative environment where individuals can share experiences, provide feedback and learn from one another.

βœ…Diverse Perspectives: Being part of a group coaching session exposes individuals to diverse perspectives, enabling them to gain fresh insights and alternative solutions.

βœ…Accountability and Motivation: Group coaching fosters accountability among participants as they set goals, share progress and motivate each other to stay committed to their personal development journeys.

βœ…Cost-Effective: Group coaching offers a cost-effective alternative to individual coaching, making it more accessible for individuals seeking professional guidance and support.

βœ…Skill Development: Through group coaching, participants can develop essential skills such as effective communication, active listening and empathy, which are transferable to various aspects of their lives.

Contrasting Team & Group Coaching

While team coaching and group coaching share some similarities, they also possess distinct characteristics. Here are five key differences between the two approaches:

βœ…Focus: Team coaching emphasises enhancing team dynamics, collective performance and achieving shared goals – and remember the key ICF proposition, team coaching is a single entity, whereas group coaching centres around individual growth and goal attainment within a group setting.

βœ…Dynamics: Team coaching deals with intact teams, working on interdependence and collaboration, whereas group coaching involves individuals with diverse backgrounds and aspirations, working on their personal goals within a supportive group environment.

βœ…Goals: Team coaching primarily aims to improve team performance and achieve organisational objectives, while group coaching concentrates on individual development, personal fulfilment and overcoming challenges.

βœ…Interactions: In team coaching, the focus is on deepening the team interactions, communications, patterns and alignment, whereas group coaching emphasises fostering connections, creating a safe space for sharing and leveraging the collective wisdom of the group.

βœ…Accountability: Team coaching holds the entire team accountable for its collective progress and outcomes, whereas group coaching emphasises individual accountability within a supportive group context.

When we start breaking it down like this, we can see there are many similarities and subtle differences depending on whether it is a group being coached, or a team. And … we have been focused on the benefits and differences within the team/group, but what about the coach?

What are the skill differences?

The role of a team or group coach requires, again, similar and at times distinct skill sets. Here are three examples of the skills required for each discipline (not in any order of importance), starting with the team coach. (Please note all coaching skills are still required and overlaps may occur):

Team Partnering: An ability to quickly establish team rapport that supports the team to move to a deeper, more trusted space for open communication and effective collaboration amongst team members. Some time taken at the beginning establishing a clear contract will support this process and give all members the knowledge they have equal power within this team. They have co-ownership and are co-partnering at every step of the way. Their skin is in the game!

Systems Thinking and Systemic Awareness: Understanding the complex dynamics of a team and its environment is crucial for a Team Coach. They need to be able to identify systemic issues that are impacting the team, their communications and even their performance. The Team Coach must be skilled at being open to receive data about the system and to then support the team to explore this data, with curiosity and an emergent style.

Facilitation: A Team Coach should be skilled at deepening team discussions, supporting the team to identify their strengths and challenges and managing any conflicts within the team. Creating a safe space for open dialogue and actively listening to ensure all voices are heard. Coaching supports the team to work through challenges, reach a place of understanding and appreciation.

Here are three examples of the skills required for the Group Coach:

Group Dynamics: Understanding group dynamics is essential. They create a cohesive and inclusive group environment where participants feel comfortable and supported. Demonstrating this skill involves managing group interactions, fostering collaboration and addressing any conflicts that may arise.

Flexibility and Adaptability: They need to be flexible in adapting coaching approaches to accommodate diverse participant needs and goals. They tailor their coaching style and techniques to individual preferences, providing customized guidance. Demonstrating this skill involves adjusting coaching methods, offering alternative strategies and adapting to changing circumstances.

Individual Development: There is a focus on the individuals’ personal growth journeys. They support participants to set meaningful goals, identify their strengths and overcome obstacles. Demonstrating this skill again involves providing personalised support, tracking individual progress and celebrating achievements.

One last way of exploring the differences in the group coach and the team coach is to use metaphors. As we know, metaphors can provide vivid representations of roles and can bring to life our understanding. Here are two metaphors to symbolize the essence of a group coach and a team coach:

Group Coach: A group coach can be likened to a gardener who tends to a vibrant community garden. They provide the necessary tools, nurture growth and create an environment where individuals can bloom together, sharing their unique beauty and supporting one another’s growth.

Team Coach: A team coach can be envisioned as a symphony conductor. They bring together individual talents, harmonise diverse voices and guide the team towards creating a powerful and cohesive performance that surpasses the capabilities of each individual musician. Both have value, both are effective – it just depends on what is required.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, team coaching and group coaching offer distinct and similar approaches to personal and professional development. Organisations would be advised to consider their specific needs, purpose and dynamics of their teams and/or individuals. By understanding the differences between the two approaches, organisations can make informed decisions about which coaching methodology suits their requirements. But … also the coach must be clear on where their skills lie and which type of coaching best suits their training, temperament and capabilities. And … this article is only a first stab at creating a differentiation in these two coaching methodologies. I am sure you will have lots to add.


❓Is team coaching only suitable for intact teams within organisations? While team coaching primarily focuses on intact teams, it can also be applied to cross-functional or virtual teams. The principles of team coaching can be adapted to various team structures and dynamics. However, the ICF would say team coaching always focuses on the team as a single entity.

❓Can group coaching be as effective as individual coaching? Group coaching can be highly effective as it combines the benefits of individual development with the power of group support and collaboration. It offers a cost-effective alternative and allows individuals to learn from each other’s experiences.

❓How can organisations measure the effectiveness of team coaching or group coaching? Effectiveness can be measured through various means, such as team or individual performance metrics, feedback from participants, qualitative assessments of collaboration, communication and/or problem-solving within the team or group.

❓Are there any risks or limitations associated with team coaching or group coaching? While team coaching and group coaching have numerous benefits, they also have potential challenges. These can include resistance to change, difficulty in balancing individual and team/group needs and the need for skilled facilitation to address conflicts or divergent viewpoints.

Pheona Croom-Johnson is Co-Founder and Academic Director of Sandown Business School. She has been in the OD field for over 35 years and mainly works as a Confidant and Thought Partner with C-Suite and Senior Leaders. Pheona is a triple credentialed Master Coach, Master NLP Trainer, credentialed Supervisor, Team Coach Supervisor and Mediator all with strong foundations in psychology. Book a call to find out about coaching, leadership and/or supervision.



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