How new thinking led us to small group coaching for front-line leaders
Summary: In 2015, Fastlead pioneered try a radical new approach to leadership development. Curriculum-based small group coaching, initially for front line leaders. new think, and new standards for leadership development effectiveness followed. Flexible, scaleable, cost effective, and virtual or face-to-face. Here's how we did it.
Written by Alistair Gordon 17 Feb 2020

Image credit: Clark Tibbs on Unsplash

In 2015, Fastlead pioneered a radical new approach to leadership development.

What if participants work in small groups? Then they learn from each other, and realise they’re not alone in the challenge they face.

What if sessions were short and punchy? Two hours, rather than a day, a month to six weeks between sessions? Then each new skill a participant learns gets tried out at their actual, real-life job.

What if each session was an entirely practical combination of role play, collaborative problem solving - and a minimum of theory? Then real-world challenges are prioritised.

What if you developed analytical skills by making the group do most of the problem solving, not the coach? Then the participants become confident leaders.

What if we ask participants choose the order in which they tackle the big leadership questions? Then what they learn applies to their job right now.

What if managers were briefed and debriefed, to ask the areas where participants most urgently need coaching? Then participants understand what their managers expect of them.

And what if our project managers managed the scheduling, pre-briefing, debriefing and organisation of pods for you? Then complex, personalised training is less effort to run than an internal course.


In 2015 the feedback we were receiving from our traditional, workshop-based front-line leadership programs was worrying. Delivered by experienced and highly rated facilitators, participants were nevertheless getting disenchanted, and frustrated, with the workshop experience.

They told us they didn’t like being away from their teams for two- or three days at a time. They were constantly interrupted by urgent calls from the workplace that they ‘had to take’. They complained about being ‘stuck in a room’ all day. They complained about too many topics delivered all at once - information overload was how they described it.

In short, participant feedback challenged our thinking.


We’re so glad we were challenged. In 2015, small-pod coaching was a new idea. Today, with over 1000 alumni at 40 blue-chip organisations now graduated, its value has been proven - and we’re Australia/NZ’s go-to provider for small-pod and virtual coaching.

67% of Fastlead participants rate Fastlead a 9 or a 10. That’s because we give participants their choice of topics, because we’ve proven that participants are the best judges of what they need to know.

A small-pod approach improves decision-making and confidence, because we’ve proven the value of role-plays and coaching, and of guiding participants to solve problems on their own.

And we’ve proven the value of keeping sessions short, focused, and episodic, so Fastlead makes sure that every new learning gets its chance to be tested in real life.

Small group coaching as a design for leadership development is now proven, timely, able to be delivered virtually, and the Fastlead team and accredited coaches have everything to get your organisation’s leaders started immediately.

Check out stories from our very happy customers here.

Contact us to see how cost small group coaching for front line leaders really is.

Check out the additional benefits - the Fastlead Alumni program offered for free - here.

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