Recently I have launched group coaching workshops, building on successful pilots in 2017. My core role remains as a Business/CEO coach, normally one-on-one, and I work extensively with senior leaders in the tech industry in Cambridge, UK – both on the investor side – Angels, VCs – and portfolio company CEOs and/or Founders. Typically, they are ambitious, with areas of brilliance, creativity, and smartness but also self-aware enough that there are opportunities to get better both professionally and personally.
Initially I wanted to make coaching more accessible, to reach more people in leadership roles but perhaps can’t afford the fees for an intense 1:1 engagement. And so, I pulled together small business leaders – ones who’s businesses have potential for great things, growth businesses, often VC/Angel backed – but who didn’t have a big budget for coaching.
They loved it!
They talked about lots of the same benefits as my one-on-one clients do:
- more clarity on their direction,
- better prioritisation, and
- more personal impact.
But they also talked about some new things they valued specific to the group setting. So, I decided there is something in this, and to keep exploring.
Realising the added value tech business leaders get from group coaching
The top 3 values that have emerged from carrying out these group coaching workshops are:
- The ability to take an outside perspective, by coaching others in the group on challenges they have themselves.
- To draw on a group of peers to give each coachee a wider range of ideas.
- Accountability. To hold each other to account that makes them far more likely to stick with their plans!
In each workshop we introduce some new ways of thinking, frameworks and ideas, and then we invite people to share how these relate to their personal situation/leadership challenges. Each person who engages in the sharing will then be coached. My approach is similar to that of action learning through peer coaching as I’ve found that it’s the most efficient and effective way to bring out insight and wisdom from within the group. I facilitate others from the group to share their questions, experiences, perspectives etc. in relation to the coachee’s challenge.
Typically it’s through this process where trust and respect has been built within the group. When someone reaches a big aha moment, and then commits to some high impact actions, everyone learns.
I aim to have everyone in the group be the one being coached at some point. But as I said, those listening to the coaching and taking part will also have breakthroughs and choose actions for themselves as well.
Typically, we run a series 3-6 workshops for a cohort of 8-12 leaders. We see them have breakthroughs in their business leadership through out the programme. They report that they are performing better, getting results, getting people to come along with them and that they are more satisfied with their work as well.
Understanding those topics relevant to tech entrepreneurs/start-ups
In our group coaching work, we have boiled it down to four topics that provide the most high-impact and relevant breakthroughs for tech leaders in a group workshop setting. They are among many topics I have seen to be critical for coaching clients over the years, but these ones work especially well in groups.
- Firstly, we look at defining success. This is about distinguishing what we tell the world about our business, what we really care about and what we want to achieve for our businesses. Focusing on success really helps them to acknowledge what matters in the business when it’s stripped right down.
- Secondly, we look at the core operations. It’s about taking a ruthless look at the drivers of value in their business in a structured way and prioritising what they need to put their efforts into. What needs to be unstuck? What should we waste less time on? All this is very action oriented and practical.
- Third, we look at the team. We consider not just the formal team but the wider group of champions and supporters, investors, advisors. Participants consider how they are perceived as they engage team members and convince them to do what they want. We then also look at who they want on the team, and how to get them, as well as who they don’t want and how to manage parting ways when needed.
- Lastly, we do a workshop called “can’t do it all”. Participants look at allocating personal time and business time and resources cleverly. What do we say no to and how? What systems really make us efficient and effective – like sales pipeline, calendar and task lists?
I find it incredibly fulfilling to support ambitious tech leaders as they face change and new challenge in their businesses. I won’t stop the proven, valuable, special service that is 1:1 coaching, with all the individual attention and benefits that affords…
But innovation is the game in the tech sector and I take inspiration from my clients in my coaching practice! I am committed to experimenting on the portfolio of services through which I can apply my coaching approach.
The example discussed in this article, group coaching, has enabled me to reach a larger number of individuals. I intend to run regular group coaching workshops and I am also looking at creating mechanisms for peer coaching and accountability to further leverage what I can offer personally as a coach. I would be delighted to hear what other coaches are doing to innovate on their service offering and reach more leaders in ways that work for them.
To connect with Katy Tuncer