Transformational change programs (such as Action Learning projects) achieve their intended results with the clear, active, and steadfast sponsorship of a senior manager and the attentive planning skills of a project manager. Both roles require organizational influence, strategy, and belief in the value of Group Coaching.

Attributes and Roles of a Strong Executive Sponsor (typically a C-suite member)

  • Possesses the business savvy and reputation to exert pressure within an organization to overcome resistance to Group Coaching as a non-traditional development process. This is important because it reduces the amount of time the group needs for approval and alignment.
  • Approves and secures funding for the Group Coaching budget
  • Understands that the overall goal is a developmental experience for participants (i.e. supports the dual purposes of action and reflection)
  • Guides the alignment of the Group Coaching themes to organizational initiatives and strategies
  • Evaluates his/her own performance as a sponsor and seeks feedback from facilitators and participants
  • Requires the evaluation and measurement of the Group Coaching outcomes
  • Receives the macro-level findings and recommendations from the project manager and external consultant at agreed-upon intervals

Attributes and Roles of a Project Manager [typically a Learning and Development (L&D) executive]

  • Prepares the strategy and budget for the Group Coaching project
  • Secures executive sponsorship (see above) and relevant executives’ nominations and approvals for their participants
  • Provides vision; articulates goals and expectations for the project
  • Orients the L&D team about the project
  • Selects the participants based on organizational needs, such as cross-functional collaboration
  • Selects the external consultant who will advise and guide the Group Coaching project
  • Selects facilitators and, with the external consultant, supervises the facilitators
  • Approves project timelines
  • Attends the first orientation session to introduce the project
  • In some cases, may facilitate one of the Group Coaching sets
  • Participates at the mid-point progress review and advises on issues communicated by the facilitators
  • Briefs the executive sponsor as needed
  • Ensures evaluation of the project and process improvement over time

Coming Up: Group Coaching—What a Facilitator Brings to the Mix

A strong Action Learning facilitator is instrumental in modeling Group Coaching behavior and guiding participants to ask high-gain questions to clarify problems and challenges, and to observe and learn via the process of interacting rather than from the content.