As previously mentioned we are not trying to turn you into a Coach. It is more about you developing as a leader who can use a coaching style. It is useful however to be aware of some coaching models that are used in the coaching business. Coaching conversations can be pre-planned or spontaneous depending on the situation, but they work better when based on a structure. The following should help to inform you when developing your own style.
The GROW Model
This model is probably the most well know of all the different coaching models. It was developed by Sir John Whitmore and provides a structure for a coaching session. There are four main areas within the model where the coach can guide the individual and help them identify actions they will take.
- Helping them to be clear about what they want to achieve and why.
- Encouraging them to positively explore what is actually happening now, what may stop them from achieving their goal and what might help them.
- Helping them think creatively to identify, define and develop ideas, options and possible solutions.
- Helping them decide what actions they will take to achieve their desired outcome.
G for Goal Setting
The purpose of this stage is to help the individual be clear about what they are aiming for. This may sound simple, but often an individual doesn’t really know what they want until they are challenged to think deeper about the subject area being discussed. For example the individual may say, “I want to improve my team meetings and make them more productive.” What does that really mean? Your response might be to ask what is wrong with them now. A reasonable response perhaps, but immediately the conversation is focussed on negative things rather than positive. A more positive response might be to ask them to describe what a “more productive team meeting” would look like.
What are their team members doing differently?
What are you the leader doing differently?
What is the atmosphere like?
What impact is this having on individuals?
What happens at the end of each meeting?
Helping them to see the future and focus on positive outcomes will change their whole approach to goal setting. The goal they set themselves will be more aligned to what they need.
Having explored this with them, ask them if they would like to redefine their goal. It is likely that they will change it to something like:
“I will create an atmosphere in team meetings where team members feel able to contribute ideas for improvement and where each meeting ends with team members taking positive action to implement changes discussed.”
This could be explored even further by asking what the leader needs to do differently in order to bring about the improvement described above. Their goal could be refined even further.
The important thing about the goal is that it should be clear, measurable and compatible with the leader’s personal objectives and those of the organisation. They must own the goal.
The effectiveness of the coach stems from their ability to construct meaningful questions during the conversation that are challenging and move the individual forward towards a solution. Questions that raise awareness; that are constructive and help to clarify the individual’s thinking.
(We will cover this in the section – “The secret is in the questions.”)
R for Reality
Having described how the future will look, the Coach can help the individual examine the current situation, to identify what is happening now. This assessment should concentrate on facts rather than opinions, judgemental evaluations, prejudices, hopes and fears. The Coach’s role is to help the individual look at the situation or problem with a “fresh pair of eyes”. To help them to take the emotion out of the situation and examine it without judging. It is important that they concentrate on facts and avoid opinions. Help them look for evidence of what is positive and what is evidence. At this stage the objective is not to come up with answers, but to fully understand what is happening and the impact it is having. Once the facts have been established and the areas for improvement have been decided, we can then move on to looking for options to introduce change and achieve a better outcome.
O for Options
The objective of this stage is to help the individual, use the information from the reality stage to identify and develop possible solutions that have a very good chance of success and of bringing about the change that is required.
Having identified the area/s requiring attention, the coach can guide the individual to articulate ideas that may provide a solution. ”Free thinking” is important at this stage as the quantity of ideas is more important than quality and feasibility. It is a creative and stimulating process, which is often more valuable than the options themselves. Options need to be identified initially without judgement and any expression of preference, and without assumptions, ridicule, censorship, obstacles or completeness. Remember it is so easy to judge and an innocent comment or gesture could prevent someone from voicing an idea at the risk of it being judged. Have you ever been in a meeting where the team leader is asking for ideas? Someone puts forward an idea and a couple of people may say “That’s a good one.” That is a judgement! and there may be someone with an even better suggestion but may be thinking that their idea is not as good, or people are going to judge it. That idea may be lost, and it might have been the best idea for that situation.
Once the list of options is produced, they can then be assessed to determine their suitability and feasibility. Selection criteria can be agreed, and then each option will be judged against the agreed criteria to determine whether it can be used in this instance. This ensures that everyone’s ideas are judged in the same way. Particularly important in team coaching.
Once the options have been explored and a plan of action is in place, we can move to the final stage in the model.
W for What is to be done
In this stage of the process the Coach is using effective questioning to help the individual clarify and articulate what will be done and more importantly what they will do and when. The Coach can help them re-visit the challenges and obstacles they might face and how they will overcome them. At this stage it is important to check their willingness and determination to take forward the actions they have identified and how they will measure their success. Help them to make a positive commitment to take action, and re-assure them that you will continue to provide support where necessary.
The GROW model is a flexible tool providing a simple and structured approach in which you can consciously use the principles of coaching to good effect. It enables you to help and support others without solving their problems for them. The individual being coached is the focus for the whole process including taking responsibility for the actions and outcomes. As a result, they experience a growth in confidence and self-belief that can be quite remarkable.
There is a plethora of models and it seems that more are being introduced almost daily! You can google this and find many different models that you may be interested in trying, but the purpose of this module is to introduce you to the concept of building positive relationships by adopting a coaching leader style.
There are tried and tested tools already well established that you can use:
SWOT Analysis – encouraging someone to complete a summary of their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and then using it as the basis of a coaching conversation is very effective, but make sure that the emphasis of your questioning is on strengths and opportunities and how the individual can use them to address areas of weakness and threat.
The Four Problem Solving Questions mentioned earlier, not only enables you to coach someone, but can also be used by an individual to coach themselves.
The Coaching Wheel – simply ask the individual to draw a circle and divide it into a number of segments where each segment represents a key area of their job. With the centre of the circle representing not -effective and the outer line of the circle representing very effective, ask them to rate themselves in performance terms, for each key area. The result can then be used to start a coaching conversation.
I hope you can see that there is no real need for sophisticated coaching models in order to be an effective leader/coach. Using the principles of Coaching and developing your skills in questioning will help you to develop the potential of you staff and increase your competence and confidence as a leader.