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The GROW model – Coaching

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I’ve been contemplating doing a Management or Coaching course the past few months and the first thing I did to investigate a good leadership course was taking myself to Google. Once there, I typed “Leadership Training” where you’ll find over 100 million results, academic papers, programs, management training series, white papers, leadership “gurus”, articles, resources and more. It was hard to judge through all the sparkly new approaches to understanding leadership, and teaching and training leaders today.

I had my own views about what goes into the making of a truly great leader, in my opinion it’s someone who is capable of articulating a powerful, positive and compelling vision for organisational and individual growth, and who can generate the trust and support needed to execute on their vision.

I spoke to a colleague, who has been working in the EDU sector for HubSpot who recommended UCD Smurfit Graduate School of Business, which partners with clients to create world-class leadership development solutions for managers at all levels in global organisations and Public Sectors.

From this, I also talked to the course co-ordinators at Smurfit, I zoned in on “Leading for High Impact and Results“, with a vision to learn from not only the Professors and Lecturers but also from others attending. I was joined on the course by 3 colleagues, and others from the likes of Salesforce, IDA, The Dept. of Finance, VHI Healthcare, etc., in a range of Leadership roles, from Managing Director, Funds Manager, Renewals Manager, etc.

The GROW model is based around the theory that using questions rather than instructions in an organisation will help nurture change more readily. The acronym GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options and Way forward. It provides a relatively simple framework for structuring a coaching session, and has been adopted by many of the world’s major organisations.

  • Goal: After discussion, a target to be reached in the session should be developed.
  • Reality: It is important that this session is grounded in reality. The person being coached should be able to assess their present situation, and give concrete examples of their performance to date. Feedback should be provided at this point.
  • Options: This stage offers the opportunity for the person being coached to suggest possible courses of action, and together with any that the coach puts forward, these should be evaluated and a choice arrived at.
  • Way forward: The final part of the process involves the person being coached making decisions and having the willpower to commit to them. Future steps to be taken should be confirmed and the coach should agree with the client how they will be supported through the ongoing development process.

the grow model

Here are some sample questions that you can ask at each stage to structure your conversations better and become a more effective Manager/Coach:


  • Where would you like to be in …………..?
  • What outcome do you want from this process?
  • What would be the best outcome from your perspective?
  • What would it take for this process to be a success?
  • What would you like to achieve?
  • What is it that you would like to talk about?
  • What would you like to have happen that is not happening now?


  • What’s happening for you?
  • How are you feeling about what is happening?
  • What effect dos this have?
  • What is being affected by your feelings about what is happening?
  • What would you change about yourself?
  • What other factors are relevant?
  • Who else is involved?
  • What is their perception of the situation?
  • What have you tried so far?
  • What would you change about the environment?


  • How could the situation change?
  • What could you do to change the situation?
  • What alternatives are there to that approach?
  • What approaches have you used in similar situations?
  • Who might be able to help?
  • How could you improve the situation?
  • Do you have any ideas about actions you could take?
  • What might happen if you took these options?
  • How would you feel after taking these options?
  • Is there any other option that you can think of?
  • Which of these suggested options would you like to try?
  • Which options do you like the best?
  • What might be your next steps?
  • How can I support you in your actions?
  • What would happen if you did nothing?

Will and way forward:

  • How can you put these options into action?
  • What would be your first step?
  • Are you aware of any obstacles to these actions?
  • How do you think you might overcome them?
  • What further support do you need?
  • Can you think of people who could support you?
  • When will you take this first step?
  • How will you know you are successful?


It is important to be aware that at all times in this process the person that you are speaking to is gently being nudged towards developing their own action plan rather than you jumping to a conclusion and coming up with the solution yourself or them being ordered along a certain route to a solution.

Craig EllisThe GROW model – Coaching

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