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  3. GROW coaching model: everything you need and want to know!
GROW coaching model: everything you need and want to know!

GROW coaching model: everything you need and want to know!

Artwork by: Antonina Kasyanikova

  • The history of GROW
  • How does the GROW Model work?
  • The impact of GROW coaching
  • How to get the most out of GROW
  • Examples of GROW coaching questions
  • Process questions
  • Prompts
  • Open-ended vs close-ended questions
  • Self-coaching GROW exercise
  • How to find a coach that uses the GROW model
  • Key takeaways

The GROW coaching model is revered for its effectiveness in helping people reach their goals. It’s not just used for career coaching either. Learn all about it here!

If you work in the coaching industry, are a manager, or are in a leadership position, there’s a good chance you have heard of the GROW model. As one of the most prevalent influences in professional coaching, the GROW model has proven its effectiveness and usefulness in a wide range of applications. 

When the GROW approach is applied in a goal-setting situation, users come away with a sense of clarity and direction in how to move forward. Keep reading to learn everything you need to know to apply the GROW coaching model successfully, either in a client’s life or your own. 

In this article we’ll discuss:

  • What the GROW coaching model is

  • How it works and what its impact is

  • Examples of GROW coaching skills

The history of GROW

The GROW model was first described in the late 1980s by John Whitmore. Based on a philosophy of self-growth, the model aims to utilize personal motivators for achieving your goals. Since its inception, the GROW model has become one of the most influential tools in leadership training. 

Whereas other professional coaching formats tend to focus on the future, the GROW model invites practitioners to center on their current situation. The result is a customized, specific, and realistic plan for moving yourself and your career forward.   

How does the GROW Model work?

By working through a series of prompts with your coach, the GROW coaching model helps the user to find a direction and look at their route through a practical lens. The acronym GROW represents the four stages of using the method. 

  1. Goals. What outcome are you working towards? How will you mark a goal as accomplished? Consider both short-term and long-term goals.

  2. Reality. Where are you currently? This is your starting point. Reflect on it, and think about the parameters that surround you. Are there any issues that need to be addressed? 

  3. Obstacles/Options. What is available to you? Think about your community, professional network, and colleagues. Can any of them play a part in the future you are creating for yourself?

  4. Way forward/Will. Create actionable steps for yourself. Try a step-by-step plan, to-do list, or become a sticky-note person. Whatever mode you use, try to be specific. 

After discussing the participant’s values, aspirations, fears, and impacts, the coach will help the user create a plan based on the four aspects above. You should leave your GROW meeting with concrete resolutions and actionable steps to guide your career. 

The impact of GROW coaching

Your experience using the GROW model will vary depending on the environment and coach that you work with. There should be a big emphasis on working with a coach that feels right. Their ability to prompt you with process questions is the key to the GROW model. 

The impact of the GROW model is so successful because the user will end up with a range of options for moving forward that are realized during the conversation with your coach. The parameters are defined by the user and can be as strict or loose as they want. The GROW model allows users to harness their natural motivations as a tool for creating achievable goals. 

How to get the most out of GROW

One of the most appealing components of the GROW coaching model is that it’s not restricted to the field of coaching. GROW can be applied in practically any industry and works with any leadership or learning style. That’s because the GROW coaching model is designed to be adaptable to the user’s circumstance. 

To get the most out of the GROW coaching model, the participants need to be given the time and space to reflect on their lives and identity. Once they’ve taken a true look at themselves, participants will gain a better understanding of what they want out of life by being asked open-ended, introspective questions. The participant may choose to share aloud, or not. That ownership over their thoughts can help give an air of safety and autonomy over their own goal setting, which can yield better results.

As a participant, or someone being coached through the GROW model, you can gain the most by being open and thoughtful. With the GROW model, participants get out of it what they put in. Be honest with yourself, and ask if there are any truths about your life that your body feels but your mind won't face. Oftentimes, participants realize that they knew what they needed or wanted to do with their life all along. 

Examples of GROW coaching questions

An effective GROW coach uses engaging communication skills to draw out information. Below are examples of different questions and prompts they might use in a coaching session. 

Process questions

These questions are aimed to guide you into thinking about how your actions, goals, and decisions will play out in your lives. 

  • How can you utilize this lesson in your everyday life?

  • What's the first thing you think of when I ask about your future?

  • What doors could open as a result of this goal? What doors could close?

  • What advice would you give to someone in a similar situation?

  • In what ways are you holding yourself back?


Prompts are a series of loosely defined statements or questions that invite participants to think within a set of parameters. For example:

  • Picture the environment of your ideal workplace. What do the walls look like, if any? When you look out the window, are you in a city or the countryside? Do you work during the day or night? 

  • If you were 90 years old and reflected on your life and career, what kind of job, title, or mission would you be most proud of having achieved?

Open-ended vs close-ended questions

Close-ended questions can be answered with a ‘yes’ or ‘no’. While there is usefulness in answering questions like that, the GROW model works best with open-ended questions. 

Close-ended questions

Open-ended questions

Do you like your job?

How does your job benefit you?

Do you have to do it that way?

How is your current lifestyle putting limitations on your growth?

Self-coaching GROW exercise

The GROW coaching model can be applied to yourself, too. Work through the same prompts and process questions listed above. Take the time to actually write out your responses so that you can reflect back the next day. Because you don’t have a coach to maintain development and accountability, utilizing tools for your goal-setting will prove effective. 

How to find a coach that uses the GROW model

Many coaches implement the GROW model seamlessly into their structure, so it might not be a specific service offered. When you are first consulting with a coach, ask them if they are familiar with the GROW model. Chances are that even if they haven’t heard of it, they will happily use it while working with you.

Key takeaways

  1. Your career goals can be made more effective by using the GROW coaching model.

  2. The GROW model asks participants to think introspectively about what they want out of life, then create a plan based on what’s available to them.

  3. The best tool for applying the GROW model is communication. A great career coach will be able to help you realize your goals through effective communication. 

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