In 2010 an exciting moment for me was the publication of my masters research paper on group coaching, titled, From GROW to GROUP, in Coaching An International Journal of Theory Research and Practice. I detailed the benefits of coaching in a group (vs. individual) setting and proposed a new group coaching model. Ten years later I was again excited to discover my coaching paper had not only been read and cited widely but that it had made it’s way to the board rooms of Apple and Google in Silicon Valley as captured in Eric Schmidt’s (et. al.) book Trillion Dollar Coach
Schmidt’s book is a tribute to Bill Campbell and the coaching work he did with the founders of both Apple and Google. Coach Bill Campbell didn’t just meet with Steve Jobs or Eric Schmidt he worked with their entire teams helping them to deal with specific business (and life) challenges and most crucially helping them to work well together. Additionally, he encouraged and supported managers to become effective coaches of their teams and promoted creating a culture of team coaching, something Schmidt credits as a key enabler of Google’s performance and innovation.
The reflections and conclusions in this book really couldn’t mirror my own reflections after more than ten years of coaching any more closely. Coaching isn’t a panacea but it is a powerful tool available to leaders and teams to support growth, change and innovation – in both personal and business domains. Individual coaching has its place, but given that so much of organisational work is collaborative, coaching in a group or team setting does have additional impact. The external coach brings a valuable ‘unbiased’ perspective that can help challenge unhelpful or ingrained perspectives that inevitably occur in organisations. Coaching is, however, not only something that the external professional coach does but is also a method of managing individuals and teams that empowers and supports high performance in its various guises. Creating coaching cultures remains a powerful yet under-utilised opportunity for many organisations.