The Confident Coach 1: The GROW Coaching Model

What makes a new coach confident about their coaching approach? How does this translate into their ultimate success as business coaches?

The GROW Coaching Model

This is the first in a series of five articles about The Confident Coach. I thought it would be interesting to discover the factors new coaches starting out on their coaching journey report they are confident about; and how this is a predictor of their ultimate success. To do this we must track their progress over the first 18 weeks of the Coaching Master Class programme. Here’s how the programme works. After the initial training I run three coach-the-coach sessions at six week intervals. Session one focusses on the new coach’s confidence in the five key elements of the training. Session two on the business results being achieved with coaching. And session three to assess coaching capability. A couple of years ago I ran a worldwide Coaching Master Class programme for 100 top leaders. I’ve looked at my notes from coach-the-coach follow up sessions with the top 20 from this group to see what makes them ‘Confident Coaches’.

In the Coaching Master Class training I teach the role of the Coach is to be a guide to the Coachee. This is achieved by asking purposeful questions. You make every question count. Questions are short and simple and direct. You maintain an atmosphere of positive tension. You make sure every question is carefully crafted to draw out new information, ideas and insights for the Coachee. GROW is your navigator. By adopting a structured approach to your coaching, you will know the intention or purpose of your questions at each stage of the GROW coaching model:

  • Goal – Your intention is to agree and validate specific objectives for the coaching – the Coachee knows what needs to be achieved and why.
  • Reality – Your intention is to take the Coachee on an accelerated and deep probing exploration of their reality landscape – the Coachee knows what is happening now.
  • Options – Your intention is to encourage the Coachee to explore new options and to be positive, optimistic and creative – the Coachee has many choices.
  • Will – Your intention is to help the Coachee make choices and take responsibility for specific actions for what they will do when and with whose support and help – the Coachee holds high positive expectation around the goals they intend to deliver and exceed.


Here is a selection of comments made by leaders during my coach-the-coach follow up sessions. They were all confident about their approach as coaches. What are the key factors for success being described here?

“What I have learned about using the GROW is the power of creating coachee awareness and responsibility”.

“It was in my initial purpose and guidelines to follow GROW, and I think I managed to do it. That was not difficult as the purpose of the conversation was clear so I could easily see where I was at any time”.

“The goal of the session already established prior meeting. I made the coachee fully responsible for the ‘options’ and the ‘way forward’ to ensure full commitment”.

“I kept good track as I kept the model in front of me with some pre-prepared questions”.

“I prepared myself for 1 hour using GROW model. I was more confident. I learnt that preparation is a key factor. Preparation is a must and don’t expect you already know the outcome. How did I put the theory into practice? Preparation and using GROW model”.

“As we discussed the GROW model before starting up, coachee was fully aware of the journey I would take him through”.

“It is always easier to coach someone who is familiar with GROW. We kept the flow together”.

“The coachee had already some good ideas and therefore I was only going to be questioning his ideas. I asked him to identify 3 options which he did. Out of the 3 options, coachee decided to move forward with one option, and we set a time range as well”.

“I was always very aware of GROW. However at one point I was almost moving too fast from reality to wrap up, but manage to reverse it back to reality again. However I also noticed that you need to be flexible when it comes to questions”.

“I think it went very well as I went through each step of GROW in detail. I was very clear on that as I wrote down the GROW in the paper and filled in each letter. We talked about different situations/examples where the coachee gets stuck in clearly delivering message to people. So the reality was very clear. The coachee came up with some good options and I also helped with a couple of options from my side. My learning from this? Basically the application of the GROW model with asking the right questions to the coachee at each stage of the model”.

“I followed the GROW module and I prepared the questions prior the sitting. I learnt that when the person is positive and prepared it works better and outcome more positive”.

“It went quite well as had prepared 6-8 questions to each part of G-R-O-W”.

“If the Coachee is well prepared, it make the session much more open and fruitful and outcome seems more positive”.

“Well-structured agenda agreed and shared prior to session. Good flow to session and GROW provides the structure”.

“GROW – setting a firm objective (G) for the discussion. It allows me to carry less of the responsibility and ownership for improvement”.

“I use the model – mainly to set the scene for any meeting – either with subordinates or peers. Once you have this established and stated everything else follows on”.

“Today I try and always write the word GROW on my notebook when entering a meeting. Then I try and ensure that I capture the Goal, and if not clear I try and make it clear in the meeting. I try to always think about the model, to ensure that every interaction becomes valuable. Not to just chat for the sake of chatting”.

“If the coachee calls for the session I make sure that I understand their Goal and don’t try to push my own”.

“Biggest thing for me was to get the reality clear. Once this is set, it was easier to achieve the goal – so moving through the options becomes easier”.

“I thought about the GROW and where I was at in the process. It takes work to keep yourself on track. I certainly believe that practice will make it feel more natural. I think probably too much and probably it showed and that is why I think with more practice it can become more natural. Well I think that at first he didn´t know what he went in for. By just asking what he wanted to achieve it was like a switch was flipped”.

“I learnt that preparation is very valuable – especially until I really master the GROW model”.

“I am learning to control my impatience and my drive to jump to conclusions very fast by being strict on following the GROW model. Based on the successful outcome it has strengthened my view on using the GROW model. The key point for me here is to ensure that I have sessions where I have planned up front with the coachee to use the GROW model and we have agreed what to be coached on”.

“I enjoy following the GROW model. I need to practice more to make it more natural”.

“GROW felt like a natural flow, which I reckon is a certain gauge of success. I lost track at times, however feel I managed to get back again”.

“GROW makes it simple and well organized to conduct coaching sessions”.

“I was always very aware of where I was in GROW. However, at one point I was almost moving too fast from Reality to Wrap-up, but manage to reverse it back to Reality again”.

“I was very aware of where I was at any time in the GROW model because, for the benefit of the Coachee, we had a copy of it on the table”.

“Be natural – don’t follow every exact step, but make sure we quickly touch on Goal then create Realisation of the current situation before we look at Options then agree on actions in the Wrap up”.

“I followed the GROW module and I prepared the questions prior to the session. I learnt that the questions can be quite effective and the sequence of them must be as per the GROW module, plus what will be done next is a must.”


Further Reading:

GROW Coaching Model

Intellectual Property Rights of the GROW Model

Origins of the GROW Model

Author: Trevor Sherman

Trevor Sherman: Author, Blogger and Coach. What do I do? I develop leadership training material and personal learning modules. I am the owner and operator of this Blog. I coach senior executives for their development and role transition. I am based in Northamptonshire UK and operate globally - in person and through technology.

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