Coaching 101- Part 3

Zoning in on Coaching Models


“You can now use a coach to get your personal life together, set and reach goals, start and expand a business, get ahead faster in a corporation, improve your job performance, and communicate better with everyone. There are literally hundreds of things that you can use a coach to help you solve, master, achieve, or develop.”

Thomas J. Leonard


Coaching models constitute the foundation of every professional coach’s toolkit. They provide structure and a backbone for processes and they ensure that coaching partnerships are fruitful and well-contained. Not having a coaching model as a reference for how one interacts with clients is like having a meeting without an agenda. To paraphrase Srinath Ramakrishnan, coaching models set the tone and parameters for the coaching partnership in at least 4 ways:


*They create an atmosphere of trust, transparency, confidentiality and two-way communication between the parties. It is important to always emphasize that a coaching partnership is exactly that, a partnership, the coach is not a parent, and neither is the coachee an infant.
*They facilitate the co-creation of goals which will enable the attainment of solid results.
*They create an atmosphere where deep questioning and learning are fundamental to the attainment of the set goals.
*They structure the coach’s process to enable the attainment of results for the coachee.


It is important to share though that, scenarios do unfold in practice where the coach must adapt and be flexible and creative within the context of any model. Like all rules and regulations out there, they are not cast in stone but provide a very useful mental frame of reference and planning tool for sessions and programmes, whether for individuals or teams.


The intention of today’s article is to provide basic information on two of some of the most widely used coaching models and this will hopefully increase more awareness of how a productive coaching partnership should be structured. This is a non-exhaustive list because there are literally tons of models out there. The two that I discuss below are: FUEL and GROW.


1. FUEL Coaching Model


The FUEL Model of Coaching was created by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett.


FFrame (by framing is meant setting parameters for the coaching interaction by agreeing on objectives, how the process shall unfold and desired outcomes)
UUnderstand (this involves getting to grips with the current state and seeing it for what it actually is; this is very interactive by its nature)
EExplore (this is the fun part i.e. exploring what’s possible, what success looks like and the productive paths to getting there)
LLay (once the exploration has been “saturated”, an action plan with timelines and milestones is produced together with an inbuilt accountability mechanism)

According to Joseph Abraham, this collaborative coaching model is useful in areas like providing performance feedback, continuous learning and development evaluations, specific skill development, career planning conversations and solving performance issues.


2. GROW Coaching Model


The GROW Coaching Model was created by Sir John Whitmore and his colleagues and is regarded as the most widely-used in the world.

GGoal (it is important to be clear about the desired outcome/s in a coaching interaction; goal setting provides drive, energy and clarity and if well-supported can really transform lives)
RReality (the aim here is not to judge the coachee’s current reality but to get to grips with it and be honest about it, it is also important to emphasize that we are not defined by our current realities, but we can certainly learn from them)
OOptions (this is the fun part because it literally frees a client up to creatively explore as many options as possible without judging their merit; being in an environment where one is free to do this is a gift. Very often we are too quick to judge and dismiss and it truly inhibits our creative problem-solving capabilities as human beings. I consistently encourage out-of-the-box, pushing-the-envelope thinking because there are so many options out there and the tried and tested ways don’t always work. A client must know that they can never run out of options, internalizing this fact has proven truly empowering for many. The ecology of the many options before us is always important so we do not blindly adopt anything without carefully weighing the costs and benefits.)
WWill (once the options to achieve the goal/s have been narrowed down and decisions made, it is time to plan the steps that will get the coachee there and to build in an accountability mechanism)


It is important for me to emphasize that these models cannot be used in isolation, they may more appropriately be seen as a skeleton that guides process, but the real meat is in the methodologies that professional coaches are trained in. And the training never stops. In professional coaching, Continuous Professional Development (CPD) is absolutely key; for example, I am currently affiliated to an Institute which specializes in cutting-edge Neuroscience-based coaching and facilitation. It is an amazing journey to be on.


For a glimpse into some of the current methodologies used at Higher Self visit:



Joseph Abraham “How To Use the FUEL Model of Coaching” August 2015

Srinath Ramakrishnan “Coaching Models: FUEL and GROW” October 2013