coaching leaders using the g.r.o.w. model

You have certainly heard of coaching by now. You know that a qualified and experienced coach can help your people be the very best they can be by unlocking overlooked potential. Coaching will help your people to overcome problems, be much more self-reliant and accelerate their careers.

But what does a coaching session involve? Although the coachee (the person being coached) is encouraged to lead the conversation by deciding what to talk about, it is the job of the Coach to ensure that time spent with the coachee follows some form of structure. Such a structure ensures that the coaching session has a purpose and that it ends with agreed and scheduled next steps.

One of the most straightforward and renowned models used in coaching is called ‘GROW’. The good news is that you don’t have to be a coach to use this powerful technique. G.R.O.W. is an acronym for ‘Goal’, ‘Reality’, ‘Options’ and ‘When’. Asking insightful questions under these four headings yields powerful results. Want to try it out? Here are 4 steps to using this model:

1. G for Goal

Ask the person being coached what it is that they want. It sounds obvious doesn’t it? Clarity is the key to overcoming adversity. It’s easy to focus on what you don’t want. Most people do just that. Instead think of a goal as the intended destination. Where do they want to end up and why?

‘What’s the single most important thing you want to achieve now?’
‘How will you know you have achieved it?
‘What will be different?’
‘How will you feel?’ 

The more the coachee can build an emotional connection to the ’solution’, the more they are likely to ‘own’ the problem. This brings us to the next letter: ‘R’.

2. R is for Reality

Ask the coachee what they feel is preventing them from achieving their goal. This is ‘reality’ to them. Everyone’s perspective is different. Whilst you are curious about their perspective, it is really important that your questions make it clear that you are keeping the problem on their side of the table. If they really ‘own’ their goal, they have to be involved in identifying and removing any impediments they find in the way.

‘What is preventing you from moving forward?’
‘What is holding you back from getting what you want?’
‘What have you tried?’
‘Have you brought this to the attention of [X]?’
‘Why do you think that this is a problem right now?’ 

Having explored barriers, we now want to move the coachee towards the ‘O’ or options they have.

3. O is for Options

So far, your coachee has identified the goal s/he wants and a very clear ‘why’ s/he wants it. Next, you helped the coachee to establish what appears to be holding her or him back. We are now ready to ask the coacheee which doors are opened to her or him and which one(s) they want to go through. Once again, you as a coach are not directing. The coachee has to choose their specific solution to their specific problems for their specific reasons.

‘So, what can you do about this?’
‘What would you like to do first?’
‘You have mentioned [x}. Is this something you would like to do?’
‘What would happen if you spoke to [X] and then called a meeting with [Y]?’

At this stage, you are ‘teasing out’ the merits of each solution. What makes sense to the coachee and does s/he believe that the solution is appropriate? If all is well, it’s time to convert these to specific actions s/he will do. This is the ‘W’ or last letter of the acronym.

4. W is for When

Most of us would agree that we have identified what we want and perhaps how to get it. But it’s simply too easy to leave things at that. it is crucial that the coachee takes the final step and commits to specific measurable actions. You have probably heard of S.M.A.R.T. goals before. Great! This is where the coachee takes responsibility and takes action.

‘That sounds like an action point. Shall we agree that you are going to do [x]?’
‘When will that be ready?’
‘You have agreed to do [x} by 5pm next Friday. Is that correct?’
‘Are you comfortable with that as a next step?’
‘Can you commit to this given your schedule?’ 

The coachee now has a set of actions which they came up with in order to overcome obstacles they identified with the purpose of achieving a goal which they want. This is the polar opposite of telling people what to do.


In summary, it’s very tempting to take ownership of someone else’s problem, particularly when you know the solution. “I know how to do it. You don’t. Tell you what. Let me take care of it for you”. The trouble is, you have increased your workload and they have learned nothing. That’s a lose-lose.

Instead, resourceful Managers recognise the importance of keeping the problem in the ownership of the coacheee in order to facilitate their personal growth. By coaching your team, you can act as an accountability partner to your team and thus play with them on their side of the net. That’s a win-win.

coaching that works for you:

Coaching forms part of my leadership training. As an experienced and registered executive coach, I enjoy enormously the process of helping teams eliminate obstacles and commit to personal and collective breakthroughs using a range of tools. I coach clients one-to-one across the UK and Ireland at Managerial and Senior Levels.

Author: Mark
Hi! Did you enjoy this content? I can help business such as yours to leverage the very best from your people through world-class training and coaching. Just call me on +44 7743 912 492.

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