GROW coaching model

The GROW coaching model is a tried and tested coaching model to structure coaching sessions.

The power of the GROW coaching model is that it leads to a clearly defined end result through four phases. The coachee is personally active in identifying problems and generating ideas for solutions. The means that anything that comes out of the coaching session has a lot of chance to stick.

The GROW coaching model stands for learning through experience: reflection, insight, making choices and pursuing them. The success of a coaching trajectory with the GROW coaching model also depends on the time and energy invested into the process by the client.

How to use the GROW coaching model

The beauty about working with the GROW coaching model is that you don't need to be an expert in your client's specific situation to be able to coach him. The GROW coaching model offers a framework with general questions to elicit goals, obstacles, options and more without ever needing to offer advice or force any particular direction. In a sense, the coach provides a dynamic vehicle for his client's development.

The steps in the GROW coaching model

The GROW coaching model consists of four steps. The word GROW is actually an acronym for GoalRealityOptionsWill. To put it metaphorically, the GROW coaching model is what you need to plan a journey. You start with the map: where are you going (Goal) and where are you coming from (Reality)? It then charts the different routes and modes of transportation (Options). At last, it helps you pick the option that suits you best while still considering the obstacles on the way. You then chart out the process and make sure that your motivation for the trip is maximised.

GROW coaching model - Step 1: Goal

The first step in the GROW coaching model is defining the goal of the coaching trajectory. That includes long term (the central theme of the trajectory) and short term (the goal for every session).

Goals need to be SMART: Specific, Measurable, Acceptable, Realistic and Timely.

Example questions to identify the goal:

  • What's important to you when it comes to [theme]?
  • What will reaching the goal give you?
  • What do you want to achieve in [theme]?
  • How will you know you've reached your goal?
  • How will you know the problem has been solved?

GROW coaching model - Step 2: Reality

Step two of the GROW coaching model is becoming aware of the actual situation the coachee is in. The coache's role here is to stimulate self-evaluation with his client, and to identify the obstacles that have been holding the client back.

It's important to not lose oneself in this phase; people have patterns and stories they can repeat and expand on endlessly. Keep on summarising and repeating what you understand from the coachee. Often, this phase of the GROW coaching model reveals underlying fears and convictions that can be worked on during or in between coaching sessions.

Example questions to discover the reality of one's client:

  • What's happening to you now?
  • What, when, with whom and how often?
  • What is the result of that?
  • Why is this theme a problem?
  • What are concrete examples of this problem?
  • What's been going wrong so far?
  • How do you manage to fail? Teach me how to do it.
  • What went well?
  • Is this always a problem or are there situations in which it isn't?
  • What are the defining factors? What can make the difference?
  • What have you done so far?

GROW coaching model - Step 3: Options

Step three of the GROW coaching model is to generate ideas that can contribute to the solution of the problem. Try to start a creative brainstorming process without censure or conditionality. Generate solutions, then structure it to evaluate every option. If needed, you can also offer some suggestions.

Example questions to generate options:

  • What else could you do?
  • What would you do if [obstacle] didn't stop you?
  • Imagine you already reached your goal. How did you do it?
  • What if this obstacle wasn't there anymore?
  • What else do you need to reach your goal? Where can you get it?
  • Which criteria will you use to evaluate this option?
  • What are the pros and cons of this option?

GROW coaching model - Step 4: Will

The fourth and last step of the GROW coaching model is the choice of one option. This is converted into a concrete plan of action. Then the coachee's motivation to follow this plan is maximised.

Example questions to maximise the will:

  • What exactly will you do to reach your goal, and when?
  • Which of these options will you take?
  • What concrete step can you take NOW?
  • What steps come after?
  • Are all obstacles taken into account?
  • How will you overcome your obstacles?
  • How motivated are you, on a scale from 1 to 10, to go for this option?
  • What do you need to have a 10? Where can you get it?
  • How can your surroundings support you?
  • Will this plan get you to your goal?
  • Will it solve the underlying problem, too?

Applying the GROW coaching model to your life or organisation

This is just a very basic outline of what the GROW coaching model consists of. As you can see, this is not enough for a full coaching trajectory. A coach also needs his listening skills and rapport making skills. On top of that, other coaching tools make this approach less rational and allow for creativity and contact with the subconscious.


Contact us today for more information about coaching with the GROW model, or any other coaching technique.


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