Three Coaching Models You Need To Know

Coaching models are structured frameworks that assist people with moving from where they are currently to a desired future state.

Importantly, these models ensure that coaching sessions remain focused on the client’s future improvement and do not wander off track.

Numerous coaching models exist today for a variety of purposes.

There are coaching models for individuals, executives, and teams, while others are specifically geared toward career or leadership development.

Below we have listed a few of the most popular.

The GROW model

Though no single individual can claim to have created the GROW model, writers Graham Alexander and Alan Fine together with racing car champion John Whitmore played a significant part in developing the framework during the 80s and 90s. The GROW model is a simple way to set goals and solve problems during coaching sessions through four stages: goal, reality, options, and will (way forward).

The GROW model was developed by business coaches Graham Alexander, John Whitmore, and Alan Fine in the 1980s.

The model, which is used extensively today, features four steps:

  1. Goal (G) – the coach first works with the client to develop a clear vision of where the latter wants to be. 
  2. Current reality (R) – for the client, this is their starting point. In other words, where are they now and what is happening to them?
  3. Options or obstacles (O) – in the third step, several paths forward are devised and possible obstacles or challenges are clarified.
  4. Way forward (W) – where both parties decide on a clear plan of action with defined steps. In most cases, the client has “homework” they must complete before they next meet with the coach.

The flow model

The flow model is a framework that enables individuals to reach a mental or emotional level where performance is optimized.

This level, where the individual is energized, focused, and fully engaged is known as flow state.

The flow model has three components:

  1. Goals – these must be objectives that will consistently motivate and inspire the client.
  2. Balance – the above can be facilitated by objectives that strike the right balance between challenge and perceived skill. Too hard, and the individual becomes overwhelmed and quits. Too easy, and the individual becomes bored and does not grow.
  3. Feedback – to accelerate the client’s development, the role of a high-performance coach is to give effective, insightful, concise feedback. 

Action-centered leadership

Action-centered leadership is a simple model that was developed by British leadership theorist and academic John Adair.

It provides a tried and tested blueprint for the management and monitoring of teams, groups, and organizations.

Adair believed that individuals could be coached to become good leaders. In other words, the ability to lead was not simply a trait one was born with.

Adair’s coaching model is illustrated with three circles that represent various leadership responsibilities:

  1. Achieve tasks – this includes defining tasks and activities, creating strategies and plans, and establishing parameters for timing, reporting, and quality.
  2. Manage individuals – leaders are effective when they understand subordinate motivations, needs, and fears in detail. Management entails support, encouragement, coaching, rewards, praise, and constructive feedback. It’s also important for leaders to spend time with more reserved individuals who are reluctant to contribute.
  3. Create teams – leaders must also be coached on creating and managing teams. They must ensure teams remain cohesive and prioritize values such as unity and collaboration. Adair also noted that superiors could be coached to establish the right culture, anticipate (and resolve) conflicts, evaluate and modify team composition, and establish standards of individual and team behavior. 

Key takeaways:

  • Coaching models are structured frameworks that assist people with moving from where they are currently to a desired future state.
  • Two examples of high-performance coaching models include the GROW model and the flow model. The former was developed in 1980 by a trio of business coaches and remains popular today.
  • Another high-performance coaching model is John Adair’s action-centered leadership framework. Adair believed that individuals could be coached to become good leaders and it was not a skill that one was simply born with.

Read Next: GROW Model, High-Performance Coaching, High-Performance Management.

Main Free Guides:

Types Of Leadership

Agile Leadership

Agile leadership is the embodiment of agile manifesto principles by a manager or management team. Agile leadership impacts two important levels of a business. The structural level defines the roles, responsibilities, and key performance indicators. The behavioral level describes the actions leaders exhibit to others based on agile principles. 

Adaptive Leadership

Adaptive leadership is a model used by leaders to help individuals adapt to complex or rapidly changing environments. Adaptive leadership is defined by three core components (precious or expendable, experimentation and smart risks, disciplined assessment). Growth occurs when an organization discards ineffective ways of operating. Then, active leaders implement new initiatives and monitor their impact.

Delegative Leadership

Developed by business consultants Kenneth Blanchard and Paul Hersey in the 1960s, delegative leadership is a leadership style where authority figures empower subordinates to exercise autonomy. For this reason, it is also called laissez-faire leadership. In some cases, this type of leadership can lead to increases in work quality and decision-making. In a few other cases, this type of leadership needs to be balanced out to prevent a lack of direction and cohesiveness of the team.

Distributed Leadership

Distributed leadership is based on the premise that leadership responsibilities and accountability are shared by those with the relevant skills or expertise so that the shared responsibility and accountability of multiple individuals within a workplace, bulds up as a fluid and emergent property (not controlled or held by one individual). Distributed leadership is based on eight hallmarks, or principles: shared responsibility, shared power, synergy, leadership capacity, organizational learning, equitable and ethical climate, democratic and investigative culture, and macro-community engagement.


Micromanagement is about tightly controlling or observing employees’ work. Although in some cases, this management style might be understood, especially for small-scale projects, generally speaking, micromanagement has a negative connotation mainly because it shows a lack of trust and freedom in the workplace, which leads to adverse outcomes.
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