How Group Coaching Ignites Upskilling

Across Canada and around the world, organizations are in a war for talent. Developing talent internally is no longer an elective, and more companies are looking to upskill and promote from within. According to a PwC 2021 survey, Canadian CEOs say their top priority in terms of long-term investment is leadership and talent development, with 75% (67% globally) planning on spending at least modestly over the next three years.

Another study by Deloitte found that 86% of senior executives felt that there was an urgent need to build leadership capability, yet only 13% said they do an excellent job developing leaders at all levels. And, here’s a depressing number — only 8% believe they have “excellent” programs to build global skills and experiences. With the billions of dollars being invested in leadership development (it’s estimated to be a $170 billion industry) the gap between investment and outcomes is vast, perilous and, quite frankly, unacceptable.

The Need for Agility

L&D professionals are looking to build within their organizations the critical skills needed today and the emerging skills needed for tomorrow. However, tomorrow is coming faster and faster every day; the breakneck speed of evolving business and changing markets has accelerated the cycle of employee skills needs.

As we pointed out in our L&D Trends 2022 report, in order to retain and prepare future leaders, L&D will need to be super agile about career-pathing and retention strategies that are highly customized and adaptive to the individual.

And, that’s the problem. HR, as a whole, simply doesn’t have the bandwidth to help employees discover and connect with the drivers that fill them with their greatest sense of purpose. While everyone agrees that reskilling and upskilling will be fundamental to delivering on strategic business goals, how can learning professionals ratchet up the skills development of high-potentials and leaders?

Let Leaders Take Ownership of Learning

To really scale leadership development in high potentials, we are seeing a marked uptick in interest in group coaching. Why? Because in a group coaching environment leaders outline their challenges, ask questions and offer up thoughtful feedback, allowing each person to reflect and ultimately find their own answers. In short, they help each other discover and deepen their own sense of purpose in a group setting.

Break Down Siloes in the Process

The simple genius of group coaching as a means of leadership development is that it creates a safe place that allows leaders to build their collective — not just individual — capability. It removes learning from its departmental siloes and, instead, combines the very best of coaching, mentoring, peer feedback, informal learning, assessments and application activities into one model that allows leaders to develop and sustain learning over time.

A More Holistic View

In a one-to-one coaching environment, the coach has a very limited view of the leader. The coach and coachee work together in a closed office or via Zoom, without context into how the person interacts with others ¾ their peers and reports. Understanding those interactions is key to behaviour change. However, in a group coaching situation, the cohort is accountable to one another, and those peers will have a much bigger impact on a leader’s ability to sustain new behaviours. Not only will leaders share ideas and strategies, but it comes from a from a place of understanding about the culture, values and mission of the business, something that an isolated classroom or external coach cannot do.

Group Coaching Fast-Tracks Learning

With individual coaching you help one person, with group coaching, you can help many. You also create ongoing support systems within the organization. When cross-functional leaders can openly exchange ideas and learn from the experiences of others, they can talk through new strategies. It accelerates those a-ha moments and builds the self-awareness that is a critical foundation piece to skills development and behavioural change.

The Bottom Line

I believe that we are seeing a massive shift in terms of what leadership looks like in our organizations  ¾ there’s more empathy, more vulnerability and more collaboration. There’s also been a complete rethink about how we can best support leaders in developing the skills needed to be successful today. There is no question in my mind that organizations that cultivate learning communities of leaders will be well poised to meet tomorrow’s challenges.

If you’re curious about how The Roundtable can help your organization develop a culture where leaders can support each other through coaching and mentoring, let’s start a conversation.  And, be sure to download our 2022 L&D Trends Report for more insights into the issues affecting L&D professionals in the year ahead.