The Wonders of Coaching Circles

Do you have any issues managing your team?  Are you having challenges managing your boss?  Could you benefit from additional non-judgmental, external insights on your issues?  Would you like additional perspectives on your communication goals?  If you answered ‘yes’ to any of these questions, Coaching Circles could be something to try.  I discovered Coaching Circles as part of a two-year Leadership and Governance Program at the University of Ottawa that I attended from 2013-2015.  It provided great insights into the challenges I was facing at the time and provided concrete actions to explore.  I loved it so much that I became certified in the facilitation of Coaching Circles!

Coaching Circles are based on action learning which is an accelerated and more expansive way of learning.  And it combines collaborative enquiry which creates new perspectives for action by exploring and reflecting on what is possible in partnership with one’s peers. And most importantly, it translates the new possibilities into a firm commitment to action.

As a repeated and integrated team practice, Coaching Circles serve 3 purposes:

  1. Participants are supported in achieving their goals through hearing about new perspectives and approaches to current issues,
  2. Participants develop their own coaching style,
  3. The teams they interact with become significantly more cohesive and collaborative.

How do Coaching Circles work?

In practice, Coaching Circles go through the following distinct and practical steps – facilitated by a certified coach:

Step 1: Each team member comes prepared with a topic: a real-life business challenge.

Step 2: Each team member receives a 45-minute ‘airtime’ or spotlight for coaching. During the airtime the team member presents his or her topic and makes a concrete request for coaching. This is followed by a 40-minute period of collaborative enquiry, designed to help him or her explore the topic to gain insights on new possibilities.

Step 3: After the airtime all participants reflect individually on their personal learning from the session.

Step 4: The Circle is then concluded with the team sharing their insights and the coachee verbalizing what has shifted in their approach to the topic and their commitment for action.

What are the Benefits of Coaching Circles?

Coaching Circles provide a unique opportunity for you to confidentially share your challenges.  They assist you in gaining more insight on your issues and exploring potential solutions.  You can also reflect and learn from the experiences of your peers.  And you can develop your coaching skills to apply within your own working environment.

If you would like to try this new experience, you can join me for my next session starting May 25, 2016, in Ottawa.  See for more details in the training section, Peer-to-Peer Coaching Circles May-November 2016.

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