GROW into a coaching model

GROW — Goals – Reality – Options – Will

The GROW model in coaching has been around for some time. It was first made popular by Sir John Whitmore and described in his book Coaching For Performance in 1992. It is widely believed that GROW was originally developed by Graham Alexander, who worked with Whitmore.

The GROW model has been used successfully by coaches in sport and business as well as by many organizations as part of a change towards a coaching style of management.

How to use the GROW model:

G – Goal – Establish the Goal:
First, with your team member(s), you must define and agree the goal or outcome required. You should help your team member define a goal that is SMARTer (Specific, Measurable, Appropriate, Realistic, Time based, Exciting, Rewarding).

R – Reality – Examine Current Reality:
Ask your team member to describe their Current Reality. This is a very important step: Too often, people try to solve a problem without fully considering their starting point, and often they are missing some of the information they need to solve the problem effectively.  This step is often required before clarification of the goal.

O – Options – Explore the Options:
Once you and your team member have explored the Current Reality, you need to explore what is possible. This means all the many possible options you have for solving the challenge or problem in hand. Work with your team member generate as many good options as possible, and explore each appropriately.

W – What & Will – Establish the Will and Wrap-up:
What is to be done, When, by Whom and have the Will to do it.

By examining Current Reality and exploring the Options, your team member will now have a good idea of how they can achieve their Goal. This a a good start but this may not be enough. The final stage is to support the team members  to commit to specific action. This will enable the team member establish their will and motivation.


Some proponents of the GROW model add Wrap-up to the W – that is to Wrap up the action planning phase and gain commitment to action.

Typical questions that may be used as part of the coaching session to utilise GROW effectively:

  • Goals - What do you want to achieve? What will be different when you achieve it? What’s important about this for you?
  • Reality - What is happening now? Who is involved? What is their outcome? What is likely to happen in future?
  • Options - What could you do? What ideas can you bring in from past successes? What haven’t you tried yet?
  • Will/ Wrap-up/ Way forward – What will you do? When will you do it? Who do you need to involve? When should you see results?

Application of GROW as a coaching model

It is often said that GROW, without the context of AWARENESS and RESPONSIBILITY, and the skill of questioning to generate them, has little value. GROW as a coaching model is used in performance coaching, executive coaching and by line managers in a coaching role.


T-GROW – some coaches add a T to the front of GROW for coaching sessions – where T= TOPIC, this helps to put context around the goals and current reality

Occasionally people change the O to Obstacles (great for ‘away from’ motivated individuals)

Management and Leadership development are importent to you and of course to the team here at RapidBI. We hope you find this information valuable, if you do please tweet or facebook like this page. Thanks

Check Out Mike Morrison's Book on Organizational Development - Theory and Practice, for tools and tips on developing organizations, managers and leaders on Amazon and Kindle

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About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.


  1. cressamae26 says:

    GROW model may be “old” but the basics are there and still very useful. What I like in this article is SMARTer. It’s a perfect acronym for goal setting.

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