GROW Model, 4 Questions for Effective Coaching

GROW Model

The GROW model (or process) is a straightforward approach to problem-solving and goal-setting. Sir John Whitmore and colleagues established the GROW model in the 1980s and spread it through his book Coaching for Performance. The GROW model is widely utilised in business training.


The GROW model is a four-step questioning methodology for solving business and everyday problems. The questions can be posed to oneself or aloud by another person, such as when a manager is approached with concern by an employee.

  • G – Goals: What do you want?
  • R – Reality: What is happening now?
  • O – Options: What could you do?
  • W – Will: What will you do?

Please don’t be misled by its simplicity. The GROW model provides a comprehensive framework for setting goals and creating plans, not just a trendy name. Working through the GROW model’s phases can be a powerful tool for helping colleagues, team, and family members clarify their goals and develop a workable plan for achieving them.


John Whitmore stated in a 2009 article that Max Landsberg created the term “GROW” during a chat with Graham Alexander and that Whitmore was the first to use it in the first edition of his book Coaching for Performance in 1992. Landsberg included it in the first version of his book The Tao of Coaching, released in 1996. Whitmore said elsewhere that the model had been operating before the term GROW was given. 

What are the four steps of the GROW model?

G – Goal

The Goal is where the coachee wants to be after the process. The Goal must be described so the client can see when it has been met.

R – Reality

The present Reality is the client’s current state. What are the problems and obstacles, and how far have they progressed toward their Goal?

O – Options

If the client is to make progress, they must identify solutions to cope with the obstacles that have been identified. These are the Options.

W – Will

Will to commit. The coach assesses the coachee’s commitment and assists her in developing a clear action plan for the following stages.

Remember that the GROW model components can be in a different sequence; a good coaching dialogue generally starts with Goal and Reality and then flows between all four aspects as needed.

GROW Model variations

O  like Obstacles.

Obstacles will stand in the way of the coachees getting from where they are currently to where they want to go. The coaches would have already achieved their Goal if there had been no obstacles.

W like ‘wrap up’ or ‘way forward’ or ‘what actions will you take?’

The Options then need to be converted into action steps which will take the client to their Goal. These are the Way Forward. The “W” of GROW can also include When and by Whom.

T GROW model

The T-GROW model coaching, where T stands for the Topic, is a significant variation of the GROW model. Exploring the Topic that the coachee would want to focus on before going directly to objectives better aligns them with their expectations in a session. Human beings require a break from time to time to investigate a topic unrelated to their other areas of development. Allowing subject exploration first puts the coachee in control of the coaching dialogue.

GROW Model Coaching

When is the GROW model used?

The GROW model may be applied in several contexts. The framework enables flexibility in the development of coaching cultures. This framework allows people to work and live together more peacefully and productively once it becomes the norm.

Organisations and management

Every leader needs to have some coaching expertise. The GROW approach is excellent for providing a framework for developing employee potential. The format allows the coachee to take the initiative and gives the management a greater understanding of how employees feel about the company’s objectives.

A coaching culture allows workers to feel heard by fostering better communication. People will go more successfully toward a common objective if they are more linked.

Team or group

The GROW model can be applied in a group or team environment to help define team goals. Group coaching is an effective method for encouraging team motivation toward shared objectives and boosting morale. Group coaching assists in determining responsibilities and personal accountability for team goals and gets everyone on the same page.


Parents, teachers, and other authority figures should all have coaching abilities. Families may find communicating challenging if youngsters cannot express their values. GROW provides a simple framework for expanding kids’ horizons while assisting parents, teachers, and other adults in understanding kids’ viewpoints.


Coaching the person offers a secure environment to investigate the internal motivation for growth-related objectives. Any kind of Goal can be used as a starting point for GROW. Personal development can occur in any situation where challenges are to be faced, such as in business, health, or any other sector.

The GROW Model Coaching Sequence and Questions


The GROW model’s Goal section is addressed at the start of each session and frequently referenced to keep the coachee’s focus moving, especially if the coachee feels stuck. It gives you more energy and helps you think more clearly. By concentrating on the solution rather than the problem, we may set ourselves on the route to achieving our goals.

10 questions to help people gain clarity about their goals:

  1. What do you want to achieve from this coaching session?
  2. What Goal do you want to achieve?
  3. What would you like to happen with [_____]?
  4. What do you want?
  5. What would you like to accomplish?
  6. What result are you trying to achieve?
  7. What outcome would be ideal?
  8. What do you want to change?
  9. Why are you hoping to accomplish this Goal?
  10. What would the benefits be if you achieved this Goal?


This is a look inside the coachee’s current situation. Spending time here helps individuals understand what is happening and how it impacts them and others. It allows people to look at challenges from a variety of angles.

15 questions to clarify the current Reality:

  1. What’s happening now?
  2. Which steps have you already taken to achieve your Goal?
  3. What were the outcomes?
  4. How would you describe what you did/tried?
  5. What kept you from trying different things?
  6. Where are you now concerning your Goal?
  7. What values are you applying as you evaluate this situation?
  8. What are you not yet acknowledging about this situation?
  9. What are you thinking now when you hear yourself say that?
  10. What is working well right now, and what isn’t?
  11. Who is involved?
  12. What is missing towards your Goal?
  13. What do you think is stopping you?
  14. How are things going today?
  15. What else?

Exploring the current Reality is one practice that distinguishes coaching from an ordinary discussion, in which we prefer to jump from the past to the future.

Importance of Reality

Exploring present Reality may initially seem unpleasant, and novice coaches prefer to skip directly to the Options or Actions stages. However, if this is done without first analysing the coachee’s Goal and Reality, the coachee may probably respond, “I don’t know what to do; that’s why I’m here!”

All of these inquiries encourage people to go further into their understanding. This is the moment to pin down the new insights into Options and Actions, and at this point, coachees are likely to start originating actions where they were previously stuck.

Note that we are investigating the present, and while we may inquire about someone’s previous activities, we are not lingering on or listening to stories about the past. More than the facts, we’re concentrating on what the issue means to the coachee. We’re not trying to figure out what happened; instead, we’re trying to figure out how it affects the coachee’s career and/or life.

When a coachee has a new insight or degree of understanding, it’s a good idea to explore the new Reality to harden the new awareness and return to the Goal. There’s a chance that a new goal or direction will develop. The ‘Options’ and ‘Will’ sequences begin over again.


Coachees will naturally go to the Options stage as their Reality becomes clearer. They frequently demonstrate new energy by sitting up and smiling or speaking in a brighter tone.

15 questions to help to explore options and generate solutions:

  1. What are your options?
  2. What could be your first step?
  3. What must you do to get a better result (or closer to your Goal)?
  4. What else could you do?
  5. Who else might be able to help?
  6. What would happen if you did nothing?
  7. What would happen if you did that?
  8. What is the most complex/most challenging part of that for you?
  9. What would you gain/lose by doing/saying that?
  10. What do you think would happen if someone did/said that to you?
  11. What’s the best/worst thing about that option?
  12. How have you tackled a similar situation before?
  13. What could you do differently?
  14. Who do you know who has encountered a similar problem?
  15.  If anything was possible, what would you do?

Is there anything else?

When the list appears complete, ask the closing question, “Is there anything else?” to check whether it’s time to wrap up the procedure. This question leads to new possibilities and can be asked as often as desired. Feel free to use it at every stage. 


Unlike ‘Options,’ which highlights all alternatives, ‘Will’ focuses on determining which activities the coachee can commit to taking. When asked, “What will you do about this?” there’s a risk that the coachee may state what they think they should do instead of picking a route that fits their strengths and behaviours.

15 questions to help probe for and achieve commitment: 

  1. How are you going to go about it?
  2. What do you think you need to do right now?
  3. How will you know when you have done it?
  4. Is there anything else you can do?
  5. On a scale of one to 10, what is the likelihood of your plan succeeding?
  6. What would it take to make it a 10?
  7. What obstacles are getting in the way of success?
  8. What resources can help you?
  9. Is there anything missing?
  10. When are you going to start?
  11. How will you know you have been successful?
  12. What is the cost of you not doing this?
  13. What are three actions you can take that would make sense this week?
  14. On a scale of one to 10, how committed/motivated are you to doing it?
  15. What would it take to make it a 10?

The GROW Model in Action

GROW Model and the Inner Game

The Inner Game approach, established by Timothy Gallwey, significantly impacted GROW. Gallwey, a tennis coach, found that he could often identify what players were doing wrong but that merely telling them what they should be doing would not result in long-term improvement.


The GROW model is a four-step coaching process that helps frame a reflection to identify activities to do to achieve a goal. Listening and questioning help you become more aware of your situation and the Goal you want to attain to move from intention to action and contribute to long-term sustainability. Goal questions elicit enthusiasm, Reality questions bring clarity, and Options and Actions questions help people convert their ideas into motion. 

The GROW model should be used regularly when you meet your team members individually. Need to talk with your boss? Read How to communicate with your boss. David Gousset.

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