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My most successful group coaching method:


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Monday, March 4, 2002

If you've ever been part of a group workshop, seminar, or TeleClass, you're aware of the energy and special results that can come out of a group of people working as a team.  How can you, a coach, further support your clients using a group coaching model?

Relationship and mentor Coach David Steele has done just that, with great success, by offering a combination of services to his clients including for-fee Coaching Teams, free and fee TeleClasses, and one-one-one Coaching. In today's article, David tells with us how he does this, and goes into special detail about the and the ins and outs of how "The Coaching Team" model can also work for you.

Also in today's issue is information about a 12-hour Real Audio series called Coach the Coach.  A 30 minute sample session is included as a bonus at the end of the issue.

Happy Reading,

Andrea Lee
GM, CoachVille


                My most successful group coaching method:

The Coaching Team is a powerful group coaching model that can be an integral part of a coaching practice that attracts and keeps clients.

A "team" is a group of people working together, committed to each other's success. A Team works together in very concrete ways; it is not a group of people sitting around listening sympathetically and nodding their heads. This model can be effective for any coaching niche, and works especially well for people who tend to be too isolated, such as singles, entrepreneurs, CEO's, small business owners, etc.

When you combine "coaching", which helps people to achieve their goals, with the "team" concept of doing so in a committed group, you have a very powerful combination. A homogenous group is best for the coaching team, so that members can pull together in the same direction with compatible goals.

Over time, I found the most successful group service delivery model for me was to offer classes for my niche, followed by coaching teams for applying what they learned in the class to everyday life. I found that when introducing the structure and benefits of a coaching team at the end of the class, about 50% choose to continue and join the coaching team. My speculation about the reason for the success of this model is that by the end of the class, participants are excited about the class content and it's application to their life, have bonded with each other, are comfortable with the coach, are more comfortable with the idea of coaching, and the thought of the support ending and going out there on their own is scary!

A typical practice mix for a coaching niche using coaching teams might be:

  • Free intro classes monthly (2 hours per month)
  • New fee-based class bi-monthly (8 hours per month)
  • Graduates from class join coaching team (8 hours per month)
  • New coaching team formed when existing team full (8 hours per month per team)
  • Individual coaching for clients who are not interested in the class, for class participants not interested in coaching team, or coaching team participants as needed

The Coaching Team helps participants implement their goals and overcome their barriers to doing so, but so can individual coaching, or a computer program for that matter. What makes a coaching team unique is having a group of men and women committed to each other's success, which means showing up for each other in very concrete ways outside of the meeting, and team mates can provide wonderful feedback and support that is not as effective when coming from friends or family. In addition, it is very common for coaching team participants to choose to work with the coach 1:1 on an as-needed basis.

This brings me to the issues of supportability, which is our ability to identify our support needs and initiate getting them met with others. We can go so much further if we allow ourselves to be supportable and get and accept help from others, but in our "do it yourself" culture, this can be hard to do on your own. The coach's most valuable role is to facilitate supportability, which would most likely not happen if the participant were not on the coaching team.

Two important features that differentiate a Coaching Team from other group models are (1) Everyone coaches, and (2) Support goes beyond the meeting.

  • Everyone coaches; participants love this. Coaching skills are effective relationship, leadership, and life skills, and we teach our participants how to listen, ask questions, reserve judgment, hold each other accountable, and most other coaching skills you can imagine. It is magic when the Team starts functioning smoothly, with the coach fading out as the leader/teacher and becoming more of a facilitator. Learning how to give support is equally valuable to participants as receiving support from the Team. Some coaches worry about working themselves out of a job- not a problem! Participants of a coaching team become a tight family and remain very loyal. If anything, retention seems to be increased.

  • Support goes beyond the meeting; participants don't just interact during meeting times, the mark of a good Coaching Team is when members show up for each other outside of the Team meeting. The coach can facilitate this when a participant expresses a need or challenge by asking them what support they need, and facilitating the support coming from the team. For example, if a participant is nervous about a job interview, and when asked indicates that being able to practice with someone would be helpful, the facilitator will prompt him or her to make a request to the team and make sure the team finds a way to meet the request.

Coaching Team Meeting Format

  • The Whip – Each chooses a number, which is representative of their subjective units of need on a scale from 1 to 5 (the higher the number, the higher the need for support or air time), and an adjective or two describing their feelings, mood, or attitude in the room. The highest numbers check in first. (5 minutes total)
  • Check-in - Each member checks in with the group about their activities, successes, failures, frustrations, and progress toward meeting their goals. (approx. 5 minutes per person)
  • At the end of each report (or check-in), the team:
    -Asks questions
    -Provides feedback
    -Celebrates, acknowledges
    -Invites reporter to request support from the team
    (approx. 10 minutes per person)

Coaching Team Guidelines

  • Confidentiality - privacy of team members is absolute, and participants agree not to share details of each others life outside the team meeting, especially in a manner that might identify the source. Discussion about other team members confined to team meetings
  • Emotional Safety - all emotions and judgments must be owned; respect and compassion are expected and practiced
  • Listening - participants agree and are coached to be fully present and listen with full attention and focus on the speaker
  • Attitude - participants agree to bring a positive attitude to the group
  • Group Focus - on future goals, problem solving, personal growth
  • Support - participants agree to be supportive and supportable
  • Everyone is a coach - participants learn to ask powerful questions, mirror, etc
  • Confrontation - ask permission first, and remind receiver of the positive intent
  • Storytelling - is kept to a minimum as time is precious
  • Flexibility - Team is flexible and responsive to needs of team members
  • Dating - no dating of team members
  • Timeliness - meetings start and end on time
  • Attendance - regular, timely attendance is required
  • Commitment - initial 3 month commitment is required, followed by a minimum one month’s notice of termination to the team.
  • Expulsion - team or coach may expel a member at any time for violation of these guidelines.
  • Payment -due in advance on the 1st of every month.

Coaching teams are fun for participants and coach, profitable (provide steady, predictable income), and are a powerful and effective support mechanism for participants. The format and structure of a coaching team builds participant loyalty and retention as they bond, help each other, and experience a boost in their quality of life as a result.

David Steele, MA, LMFT, CLC is a relationship and mentor coach, founder and CEO of Relationship Coaching Institute for training coaches and other helping professionals to help singles and couples have successful life partnerships.
For coaches and helping professionals-
For singles and couples-
Check out my new book!

Readers are invited to join a FREE 3 teleclass series "Introduction To Relationship Coaching" beginning  May 13th. To register visit

Copyright 2002 by All rights reserved.

CoachVille Member Resource
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Thomas directed the coach (and me as the listener) to subtleties that I was too new in the profession to have noticed myself. Not only did that open new ways of thinking, it gave me a different perspective that enlarged the entire experience. The session, feedback, and follow-up with the client demonstrate an excellent model of providing support by entering the client's world rather than imposing outside expectations. Now, years later, each time I listen I still learn something new.
Katie Darden, Creative Catalyst: "Bringing Life to Your Best Ideas" (tm) 

Included in the CoachVille membership are 12 hours of RealAudio clips where Thomas Leonard, founder of CoachVille, whispers in the ear of coaches as they are coaching their clients live, via a conference call.  A truly innovative approach and definitely challenging to the coaches involved.  And an excellent way to learn coaching 'in the moment.'

Yet another reason to join CoachVille today.

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