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Coaching Others

Coaching Others

Guides others in decision-making and/or developing skills and abilities to improve their performance

Building leadership capacity or bench strength for the future success of the organization is one of the most important tasks that leaders perform. And coaching is arguably the most effective tool to help leaders accomplish that task. Leaders use coaching for a myriad of reasons. From helping others assess their skills and determining how to broaden them, to helping them recognize and eliminate unproductive behavior, coaching is an indispensable tool for developing others.

Coaching is not telling others what to do; rather, it is encouraging others to find their own solutions to problems. Coaches employ a variety of skills, such as probing questioning techniques and interpersonal communication. Effective coaches are perceived as good sounding boards, and they listen attentively to others to help guide their decision-making. As a leader, it is your responsibility to maintain proficient coaching skills and be familiar with and use all available tools to help develop others.

The GROW Model is a tool that has been used to coach and develop others. It was developed in the 1980s by Allen Fine, Graham Alexander, and Sir John Whitmore. It is one of the most widely used coaching models available to help individuals clarify what they want to accomplish and determine how to accomplish it. This four-step model consists of the following components:

  1. Setting Goals
  2. Examining Current Reality
  3. Considering Options
  4. Determining the Way Forward


Setting Goals

The first step in the GROW Model is setting goals. Goals are used in this instance to help the individual you are coaching determine what he or she wants to achieve. These goals may also be described as objectives, targets, key results, or outcome achievements. Regardless of what they are called, the question to be answered during this step of the model is “What is the individual’s aim or desired result?”

As I discussed in my book, Leading Made Easy, when setting goals, use the acronym SMART:

Specific—It is clear, unambiguous, and answers the “what,” “why,” “who,” “where,” and “which” questions.

Measurable—It presents measurable criteria and answers the “how much,” “how many,” and “how will I know when it is accomplished” questions.

Attainable—It is achievable within the environment using given resources.

Relevant—It is appropriate for the situation and consistent with other initiatives.

Timely—It can be completed within an appropriate time-frame.

Using the SMART acronym as a guide is essential for developing actionable and definable goals.


Examining Current Reality

The next step in the GROW Model is examining the current reality. If the goal clarifies what the employee you are coaching is to accomplish, then an examination of the current reality lets him or her know where to start. It also allows the individual to identify the work that has to be done to close the gap between the current state and what needs to be accomplished.

When identifying current realities, one should avoid false assumptions. Obtaining feedback from others helps to check for false assumptions. It is important to develop a detailed understanding of the current reality. Consider the tools available, skills, knowledge, networks, and support in order to identify potential resources that may be useful. Questions to ask when examining current reality include the following:

  • Will the current environment support your efforts?
  • Do you have the required skills and knowledge, or will you have to acquire them?
  • How can you leverage your network to support this initiative?
  • Whom will you have to involve?
  • Do you have the necessary support system and budget, if required?
  • What obstacles do you anticipate encountering?

Answers to these questions will help bring the current reality into clearer focus.


Considering Options

After you determine what the person you are coaching wants to accomplish (goals) and identify his or her starting point (reality), the other step in the GROW Model is to generate some possible ways that he or she can accomplish these goals. Start by generating options that are strategic-level, and then move to the tactical and operational-level details for planning purposes.

The most important thing to remember during this step is to identify as many options as possible and not to look for the “one right way.” Be innovative and brainstorm to identify multiple viable options. When choosing the final option to pursue, consider the cost-benefit and risk of each option. The second or third options that were not selected may serve as contingency options, if the first option does not work out as expected. Some useful questions that should be asked when considering options include the following:

  • Has a full range of options been identified?
  • How will the final option be selected?
  • What are the cost-benefits and risks of each option?
  • What resources are required for each option?
  • Which option represents the best approach?
  • Which options should serve as contingencies?

Once this step is complete, the person you are coaching should have a plan to accomplish his or her goals, or at the least, a solid framework for a plan.


Determining the Way Forward

It’s now time to make the plan or framework you developed actionable. The final step of the GROW Model is determining the way forward. In other words, the person you are coaching will need to make his or her actions specific and identify timing to maximize the achievement of his or her goals.

Another consideration during this step is whether everyone involved in helping the person you are coaching has the motivation for the journey. Questions that can help include the following:

  • What are the specific steps and timing for each action?
  • Do you have the required support and resources?
  • What obstacles do you anticipate encountering?
  • Do you have the motivation to tackle this initiative?
  • How can you sustain this goal, once achieved?

In summary, a leader who coaches others . . .

  • Helps others assess their skills and determine how to broaden them
  • Helps others recognize and eliminate unproductive behavior
  • Listens attentively to others to help guide their decision-making process
  • Is perceived by others as a good sounding board
  • Encourages team members to find their own solutions to problems

The above article is an excerpt from Alonzo’s new book: Leading Made Easy. visit to learn more about his book and to purchase your copy.

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