The GROW Coaching Model

There are many coaching models which are used by coaches world over to bring structure to the coaching conversations. One which is preferred for its simplicity and easy application is the GROW coaching model. This model allows flexibility and can be used to structure both a coaching conversation as well as a longer coaching intervention.

GROW is the acronym for:




Will/ way forward / wrap up

The GROW coaching model has been developed and popularized by Sir John Whitmore, a former racing car champion, sports psychologist and leading coach in UK. He is known for his famous works: “Need, Greed or Freedom” and “Coaching for Performance: Growing People, Performance and Purpose”.

Here is a description of various phases of the model:

GOAL: This phase is characterized with identifying the long term goals for coaching and the short term goals for the session. A stage to build a ‘compelling’ future.

Questions usually asked at this stage may be:

  •  What do you want to achieve?
  • What does success look like?
  • What about this is important to you?
  • How would you know you have achieved it?
  • Is it realistic and achievable?
  • What would happen if you are not able to achieve your goal?
  • What will be different when you achieve it?

A word for the coach: Check to see the goals identified are SMART goals. They should be inspiring enough to be able to stretch the client and on the other hand on too big that the client may soon feel demotivated to achieve them.

REALITY: This phase deals with the exploration of the current reality. Before heading towards the goals it would be only prudent to take stock of the current reality.

Questions usually asked at this stage may be:

  • What is happening now?
  • How is that affecting you?
  • Is it/ How is it affecting others around you?
  • How do you know that is accurate?
  • What is missing?
  • What is holding you back?
  • Have you done anything about it so far? If yes, what have you tried so far? What results did that produce?

A word for the coach: Try to get the client to state the reality in as focused a manner as possible. Generalizations should be avoided. Spend adequate time here as this is the place where the client will come out with the limited beliefs he/she is carrying with them.

OPTIONS: I call this the ‘creative’ stage. This stage calls for brainstorming and ‘out of the box’ thinking.

Questions usually asked at this stage may be:

  • What could you do to move you one step ahead towards your goal?
  • What else should you do?
  • What strategies can you bring in from past successes?
  • What are the costs and benefits of each option?
  • Which option do you have most energy around?
  • Who can help you with this?

A word for the coach: Try to get an exhaustive list of options. Usually the first few options that the client comes up with would be the ones that he/she is most comfortable doing. Hence, these would not really push them out of their comfort zone. Make them think and be careful of displaying any personal judgments (by way of words, facial expressions or voice) towards any of the explored options.

Will/Way forward/Wrap up: This stage deals with action. The client is encouraged to choose the course of action which best propels him to his goals. Deadlines are fixed. Commitment is checked and now its time for forward movement.

Questions usually asked at this stage may be:

  • Which option/s do you choose to follow?
  • What support do you need?
  • Who could provide you with this support?
  • When/ how will you approach him/her for this support?
  • When will you start action steps?
  • When will you achieve each of your actions?
  • Is anything stopping you from moving forward on that option? What will you do about it?
  • What is your level of commitment to these agreed actions?(preferably on a scale of 1 to 10: 1 being the lowest and 10 being the highest)
  • How can I as your coach best support you in this phase?

 A word for the coach: It is essential to build accountability here and also to check the motivation levels to ensure the client does follow through on what he commits.

 A few points:

The model has been explained sequentially but it is not always as linear as stated above in real life coaching situations. The coach and the client may move back and forth between the steps until they hear the ‘clunk’.

It is imperative for that the client is allowed to spend enough time in each phase to experience the richness of this model and any tendency to move quickly to the next phase should be refrained from.