Coaching, Consulting or Facilitating: Adapt Your Style
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Adapt Your Style: Coaching, Consulting, or Facilitating

Difference Consulting, Coaching and Facilitation

By Karyn Greenstreet

Because a mastermind group is a balanced and equal process where every member should be participating in the discussion, people like you and I who are coaches, consultants and teachers have to change our normal communication style to allow group discussions to flow.

And if you’re a trained, professional coach (I’m talking about the ICF standards of the coaching profession), you’ll have to unlearn some of your communication styles to become an extraordinary mastermind group facilitator. Or, at least, learn how to switch hats and know when to use each of your coaching, facilitation, teaching, and consulting skills when running a mastermind group.

It took me a long time to master this!

Here are some tips, based on whether you’re a teacher, consultant or coach.

If you’re a teacher or consultant…

In some mastermind groups, the facilitator is the expert. You’re used to giving advice and being seen as “the teacher” and “the expert,” and now you have  to shift to a new mindset: “The answer is in the room but it doesn’t have to come from me.”

Definitely, the answer shouldn’t come from you first: the point of a mastermind group is that the members coach and advise each other.

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You have to take off your consultant or teacher hat, and put on your facilitator hat: don’t be the first to jump in with the answer or the question. Allow the group to help each other first. In this way, you teach the group that you’re not going to be the first to respond, which increases participation in all discussions. Then, if the group misses something crucial, you can add in the missing pieces after the other members have shared their ideas.

Once I absorbed that, it was incredibly freeing to not have to be the only one with the answer. The power you feel when the discussion gets deep and productive is amazing, and you wouldn’t want to stifle that by always being the one with the answer.

If you’re a professional coach…

I graduated from CoachU. It was embedded into my consciousness throughout my professional coach training that coaches do not advise, they are not directive, they don’t tell the client what to do.

The whole idea of a mastermind group is to share advice, brainstorm ideas, and share best practices.

For professional coaches, this can cause some angst: Can I still be a coach and a mastermind group facilitator? Can I still use all these wonderful coaching skills I have?

Of course, the answer is Yes. So many of the skills you learned in coach training (listening,  co-creating the relationship, designing actions, etc.) are hugely valuable in a mastermind group. You can even ask coach-like, non-directive questions. But you’ve got to be willing to give advice and share ideas, too.

Think of it this way: we can use all our skills and talents as a mastermind group facilitator. Imagine a career where you can use the combination of your coaching, teaching, consulting, and group dynamics skills, all at the same time! It’s very liberating.

Just remember, as the facilitator, you’re the last to speak, not the first. Keep that forefront in your mind and you can’t go wrong.

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9 thoughts on “Adapt Your Style: Coaching, Consulting, or Facilitating”

  1. Katie says:


    Thank you so much for this post! I a new CoachU grad and am facilitating a mastermind group of veterinarians. I have been struggling with the coaching vs facilitating dilemma for weeks and this post helped to shed some light and find some peace. Can’t wait to read more!


    1. You’re welcome, Katie, I’m glad you found it helpful. Sometimes people feel they need to abandon their coaching skills in order to run a mastermind group. But I see it as integrating your coaching skills with your facilitation skills, to truly serve your audience the way they need to be served.

  2. Gordon Diver says:

    A very informative piece Karyn. Thanks for the continued wisdom and generosity.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I’m glad you liked it, Gordon. It was a topic that came up in a recent Facilitator training class and I thought it perfect for a blog post.

  3. Cheryll Messam says:


    Thanks for speaking to this dilemma of the “clash of skills!” [smile] It is comforting and encouraging to know that there is a way to find middle ground in using multiple skills harmoniously when facilitating mastermind groups.

  4. Paul Wirth says:

    Being the last “one to speak” has been and continues to be a challenge when we hear too much silence.

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      I wonder what’s causing that, Paul? It’s very rare for there to be much silence in a mastermind group meeting.

  5. J.R. Russell says:

    Thanks, Karyn, for another great blog. I like having the blog in the body of the email. Your accompanying video topped it all off and brought back lots of memories as a CoachU-trained coach. BTW – Those coaching skills have proven to be a marvelous foundation for a mastermind facilitator. Thanks for all the value that you provide!

    1. Karyn Greenstreet says:

      Yes, J.R., coaching skills and masterminding skills seem to go hand-in-hand. As coaches who are also mastermind group facilitators, you just have to “unlearn” the coaching rule of “don’t give advice!” 🙂

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