The simple little model that will supercharge your leadership

As a leader, you’ve probably been told by everyone and their dog that “coaching is the new black”.

But coaching is not just a passing fad. It’s an essential skill for anyone leading people in today’s volatile and dizzying business world.

If you’re still on the fence about whether improving your coaching skills will improve your leadership, then you need to read this great article and this insightful report. They both lay out a great case for the benefits of coaching.

But let’s be honest. Knowing something is a good thing to do and actually doing it (let alone doing it well) are two different things. Take food for instance. I know that choosing a kale salad is a good thing to do. But unless I can get my hands on a simple, quick and tasty recipe, I’m not going to be upping my kale intake any time soon.

It’s the same with coaching. Let’s assume you know you should coach the people in your team, but you’re not doing it as much as you should. You’re time poor (what leader isn’t these days?) and it seems like coaching is just another thing to do on your already enormous to-do list.

Or maybe you’re not sure where to start with this whole coaching thing. Let’s be real, telling your team what to do and solving the problem for them is much easier than asking them one of those ‘curious questions’, am I right?

I love a good model, especially when I’m learning a new skill. So, this week, The Leader’s Digest is your coaching friend. I’m going to show you how to use this quick and easy coaching model so you can get a gold medal in the Coaching Olympics and impress your boss and Mary in HR with your leadership awesomeness.

The coaching model I’m talking about is the GROW model. It was one of the first coaching models I learnt when I became an executive coach years ago. It’s an oldie, but a goodie. Although it’s basic, I’ve found myself returning to it again and again. The fact I keep using it after all these years means it works.

The GROW model shows you that coaching is not MORE work, it’s just a DIFFERENT (and better) approach to having conversations with your team.

When can you use the GROW model? Here are some examples for starters:

  1. When one of your employees pops into your office with a problem and asks, “Hey boss, have you got a minute?” This is your cue to get into coaching mode and remember the GROW acronym.
  2. When you and your team are starting a project or important task. The GROW model can help set the project up for success by harnessing the group’s creativity and having everyone clear on expectations.
  3. When there’s a performance issue. The GROW model helps both parties be clear on what success looks like and ways to be successful.
  4. When you’re having a development conversation, the GROW model can help you and your employee understand where they want to progress their career, skills and how they can get from where they are now to where they want to be.
  5. In a ‘spot coaching’ conversation. A spot coaching conversation is when you’re having a short 2-5 minute coaching conversation ‘on the go’ with your team member. It shows that you can apply the GROW model concept in just a few minutes.
  6. I’ve even used it when picking up a brief from a client – like when I’m discussing my Pivot High Performance Programme for Leadership Teams with a CEO and want to get an idea of how their leadership team is performing and where they want to take it.

WARNING: I tried using the GROW model with my family to set up some expectations for our upcoming Fiji holiday, thinking I could impress them with my coaching skills. I got a swift “TALK TO THE HAND” from EVERYONE. So maybe don’t try the GROW model at home J.

How do you use the GROW model?

Here’s a video I’ve taken from my leadership programme for emerging leaders called The Leader’s Map. In this video, I outline the GROW model and how to apply it in different situations.


Since I’m all about FREE STUFF (who isn’t?), here’s a free downloadable PDF outlining each step in the GROW model, with useful questions to ask under each section. It’s just one of many handy resources in The Leader’s Map.

Little sales plug: If you like this blog post and want to up the ante on you and your team’s leadership skills, then you need The Leader’s Map – the leadership programme I’ve developed for organisations wanting to supercharge the capabilities of their leaders. Check out the information page here.

Don’t be left behind in the coaching and leadership stakes. Start using the GROW model in your leadership practice today.

1 Comment

  1. Tim on May 2, 2020 at 9:31 am

    I love the GROW model. Recently I was introduced to both the narrative coaching model and to Appreciative Inquiry. It is so neat to gain that expanded foundation for coaching and leading well! Glad to have found your blog!

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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