The benefits of the GROW Coaching Model

The GROW Model is one of the most widely used methods for performance coaching, leadership development and goal setting in the world today. 

First developed in the United Kingdom in the 1980s by John Whitmore with the contribution of his fellow coaches Graham Alexander and Alan Fine, the model was inspired by Timothy Gallwey’s the ‘Inner Game’ method which was applied in sports. 

Through a process of four steps (Goal, Reality, Options, and Will) the GROW model helps people not only find solutions to their problems, but also understand their situations and explore their options, while at the same time boosts their confidence and self-motivation. 

We are going to explore some of the benefits of the GROW model by looking at:

The GROW model and the ‘Inner Game’

The GROW model was inspired by the ‘Inner Game’ method by tennis coach Timothy Gallwey. He realised that despite understanding his players’ shortcomings, he could not get them to fix them by simply explaining their flaws to them. 

The parallel between the GROW model and Gallwey’s approach can be understood with this example. Asking tennis players to keep their eyes on the ball might have worked for a short while but it was hard to make it stick in their heads. So, Gallwey asked his players to say ‘bounce’ (out loud) when the ball bounced and say ‘hit’ (out loud) when they hit the ball. This resulted in the players keeping their eyes on the ball and improving their performance without much effort.

What makes Gallwey’s approach and the GROW model similar is to create awareness raising questions to help people discover solutions to their problems by understanding what they might or might not be doing wrong. The argument here is that many people fail to learn from experience and use available knowledge to improve and move forward.

Enhancing your ‘Inner Game’ through the GROW Coaching Model

It is impossible to achieve mastery or satisfaction in any endeavour without first developing some degree of mastery of the relatively neglected skills of the inner game. Most of us have experienced days when our self-interference was at a minimum. 

Whether on a sports field, at work, or in some creative effort, we have all had moments in which our actions flowed from us with a kind of effortless excellence. Athletes have called this state, ‘playing in the zone.’ Generally, at these times our mind is quiet and focused. But whatever it’s called, when we’re there, we excel, we learn, and we enjoy ourselves. Unfortunately, most of us have also experienced times when everything we do seems difficult. With minds filled with self-criticism, hesitation, and over-analysis, our actions were awkward, mis-timed, and ineffective. Obviously, we all would prefer to have more of the first and less of the second.

The impact of the GROW Coaching Model

Leaders and coaches value the simplicity and flexibility of the GROW model for coaching in the workplace. They see the results in their daily interactions with individuals.

Organisations incorporate GROW into their management processes and leadership models to engage people, inspire great performance and maximise productivity. For this reason, some of the world’s most successful companies, including Google, teach their managers to use GROW.

GROW coaching skills unlock potential and increase performance by increasing self-confidence and motivation. Asking effective questions in a carefully structured way promotes deeper awareness and greater responsibility which leads to practical steps to accomplish goals and overcome obstacles.

The GROW Model has been seen to yield higher productivity, improved communication, better interpersonal relationships and a better-quality working environment.

Why is GROW so effective?

Taking a coaching approach to managing people is more than just spending time talking one-to-one. There are a number of reasons that the GROW model is increasingly popular:

1. It allows the coachee to take responsibility (while being supported)

As a coach, you help others to discover for themselves what is working and what needs to change, prompting deeper awareness and responsibility. Fundamentally, this process makes others responsible for taking the actions they have identified for themselves. This is proven to be way more effective than merely trying (and ultimately forgetting) what they have been told to do by you or somebody else. A skilled coach will empower individuals to build confidence and capability in solving their own problems.

2. It promotes engagement across teams and organisations

Coaching can have a transformative effect on whole organisations. By facilitating teams to put in place their own solutions, people are more engaged and likely to stay on – because they have had a hand in the decisions that affect them. In turn, by adopting a culture of coaching, you are then free to step back and focus on more strategic activities. Ultimately, everyone achieves more through self-directed learning and self-discovery which in turn unlocks abilities and potential.

3. It can be used in a wide range of situations

The GROW framework can be used in conversations, video calls, meetings and everyday leadership and life – it’s not necessarily something you need to set aside a specific time, session, or location for.

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