If you ask me which is the single most well known and effective technique for executive coaching, I would be very quick to tell you that it is  ‘The GROW model for coaching’, developed by Sir John Whitmore. It provides a simple yet very effective framework for coaching.

What Makes the GROW Model Different?

Foremost, the model utilizes a very simple but effective framework. The GROW Model also provides a set of powerful tools to highlight, draw out and then maximize inner potential through a series of sequential coaching conversations.

The GROW Model is globally renowned for its success in both problems solving and goal setting. It helps to maximize and maintain personal achievement and productivity. Part of what makes it such a powerful leadership tool is its flexibility. Its effectiveness goes beyond the boundaries of culture, discipline, and personality.

In its original approach GROW Model assumes that the Coach is not a ‘Subject Matter Expert (SME)’ of clients’ situation. Therefore the coach must act as a facilitator helping the coachee or client arrive at the best options.

In essence, the coach doesn’t offer directives, advice or expert opinion. The key to coaching success in the GROW model is facilitating self-discovery and actions based on them. However, some approaches apply to GROW Model to the Mentoring process.

This, however, is debatable whether the GROW Model should be applied to the mentoring process as the whole exercise is based on facilitation, not direction.

The GROW Model is known to be successful across the world to a very diverse population, background, job role, and experience. It forms the most popular framework for coaching in many organizations and institutions worldwide.

It is now one of the most popular principal pillars utilized within the international coaching community as a whole, due to the outstanding results it helps people to achieve personal and within global organizations

The GROW Model for coaching has four stages: Goals, Reality, Options and Way forward. Responsibility for setting goals rests with the coachee. In the GROW model for coaching, the coach works in a non-directive way, supporting, challenging and self-discovery. Also, an important aspect of any coaching endeavor is the ability to communicate. You can further read the ultimate guide to effective communication to build on effective communication skills.


This focuses on the coachee’s objectives and priorities. It sets the agenda for starting the coaching conversation. The coach should be flexible and prepared to explore, question and challenge the status quo. This is achieved through questioning, probing and empathy. The outcome is a clear set of goals for the session and the overall coaching relationship.

The questions asked in this stage of GROW model for coaching include:

What is your goal?

• What are your priorities?

• What are you trying to achieve?

• How will you know when you have achieved it?

• Is the goal specific and measurable?

• How will you know when it has been achieved?

• What will success look like?


Reality Explore the learner’s current position: the reality of their circumstances and their concerns relating to their goals. The coach needs to help the coachee analyze and understand the significant challenges relating to their goal through smart questioning. The coach can also provide information and summarize the situation to clarify reality.

The questions asked in this stage of GROW model for coaching include:

• Can you control the result? What don’t you have control over?

• What are the milestones or key points to achieving goals?

• Who is involved and what effect could they have?

• What have you done so far, and what are the results?

• What are the major issues you are encountering?


The coach helps the coachee to come up with options, strategies and action plans for achieving goals. This helps unravel new aspects of the individual’s current position with the result that discussion reverts back to the coachee’s reality.

This goes well if it is productive or enlightening – the aim is to help the individual, not rigidly follow a process.

The questions asked in this stage of GROW model for coaching include:

• What options do you have? Which do you favor and why?

• If you had unlimited resources, what options would you have?

• Could you link your goal to another organizational issue?

• What would be the perfect solution?

Way Forward

Way forward Do not rush the final stage. The aim is to agree on what needs to be done. It can help the coachee to develop a practical plan to implement their options. The coach should be a sounding board, highlighting strengths and weaknesses, testing the approach and offering additional perspectives.

The questions asked in this stage of GROW model for coaching include:

• What are you going to do – and when? Who needs to know? What support and resources do you need?

• How will you overcome obstacles and ensure success?

Finally, the most effective plans incorporate a review and feedback process to check progress and provide motivation.

The Impact

The use of the GROW Model, by using carefully structured questions and probing techniques, promotes a deeper awareness and responsibility and encourages proactive behavior, as well as resulting in practical techniques to accomplish goals and overcome obstacles.

The model encourages self-discovery and is never directive. It provides the structure which ultimately helps to unlock an individual’s true potential by increasing confidence and motivation, leading to both short- and long-term benefits.

The GROW Model has been seen to yield higher productivity, improved communication, better interpersonal relationships, and a better quality working environment.

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