Beyond GROW: 3 Coaching Models That Take You Positively Forward

Coaching Models That Take You Forward

Coaching provides a structured approach supported by so many different models that it can be hard to choose the right one. Here’s some help.

On we talk a lot about coaching and how to be your own life coach.

Coaching is not a black box to which you feed a lot of information and which gives you back a list of actions you should take. There’s a structure to it… and there are various coaching models and approaches that provide that structure.

Broadly speaking, there are 2 types of coaching models:

Type 1: The Self-Awareness Models – These are those models which help you discover who you are, what your strengths, habits, personal traits, areas of development are. They help you reflect and know yourself better. Myers-briggs is a good example of these self-awareness models. As are models asking for insights about you from third-parties (such as the 360 degrees feedback model often used in work circles).

These models are extremely useful in that they allow you to discover and explain the way you act and react.

But then what? How is this knowledge going to help you reach your objectives? get the career you want? get your promotion? lower your stress levels?

That’s where the second type of models comes in handy:

Type 2: The Action Based Models – These are the models that drive you through a process from self-discovery to taking actions to reach your goals – and, in the spirit of moving us positively forward, these are the models we’ll be looking at in a little more detail in this article.

The Classic Action Based Coaching Model: GROW

We recently talked about GROW, the model created by Alexander and Whitmore. It’s a simple and effective model used by most coaches be it life or executive coaches.

Its main steps are G– Goals, R– Reality, O– Options, W– Way Forward.

You’ll find these steps explained in more details in our article here: Solve Problems Simply and Effectively with the GROW Model.

The GROW model is very good but, sometimes, can be executed too rapidly and key questions within each step can remain unanswered. So further models were developed to put an emphasis on these key questions.

Why Go Further Than The GROW Model

The GROW model has given birth to a plethora of other models, each trying to go further with more or less success.

Here’s a table I put together with some of these models, their main steps and where these steps fit in within the coaching process (i.e. within the usual sub-processes of Goal Setting and Options Generation or Taking Action).

Action Based Coaching Models

If you compare the models to GROW, you’ll notice cosmetic changes (same steps as GROW with different names: Outcomes instead of Goals, Ideas or Choice instead of Options,…) and more noticeable and interesting new steps.

Within Goal Setting and Options Generation (highlighted in red in the table above), these new steps highlight questions you should ask yourself before moving forward within the process:

  • understanding or evaluating the reasons for your goals after you’ve generated your goals
  • clarifying the gap between your current situation and your goals once you’ve established your goals and reality
  • evaluating your options after you’ve generated them

However, it’s within Taking Action, that the most interesting changes are found (highlighted in blue above). In the GROW model, all you get is W (Way forward, which some people also read as Will). But, in the other models, many new steps have expanded on this to ensure the actions positively take you forward:

  • confirming and reviewing the action plan
  • establishing tactics and habits to systematize changes
  • motivating, supporting, encouraging action and momentum

These are excellent strategies well worth incorporating because they will help you succeed.

Let’s take a closer look at the last 3 models in the table above as these are some of the most structured and comprehensive.

3 Models Take You Further: RESULTS, ACHIEVE, OUTCOMES

These 3 models were created with business issues in mind but they can very easily be adapted to personal coaching.

They all have in common more emphasis on reflection in the first steps than in the GROW model and a more developed and detailed Action side.

Although they take longer to go through because of the extra steps and extra structure than GROW, they’ve all been found to get good results.


RESULTS was created by Dr Jon Warner of Warner Results Coaching.

R – Reflect: Take time to think, ask questions and re-frame the existing issues at a deeper level.
E – Evaluate: Generate more options and carefully assess all the forward options.
S – Strategize: Select the plan with the best chance of succeeding.
U – Understand: Appreciate what resources (people, finances,,..) will be needed to succeed.
L – Listen: Pay attention to the input of employees and colleagues. Useful step in a business context but can be used in a personal one too. What feedback do others have on the plan? Rethink plan if necessary.
T – Take Action: Implement plans and follow-though persistently.
S – Systematize: Ensure that processes are permanently changed. Do not let things slip backwards. Create new habits.

Interestingly, there’s no Goals or Objectives step here. It all starts with identifying the real issues, prioritizing and tackling these.


ACHIEVE was created by Dr Sabine Dembkowski and Fiona Eldbridge.

A – Assess the Current Situation: Reflect deeply on the current situation, on past events, enhance understanding of what specific actions contributed to the current situation, and how those actions may have stimulated specific responses in others.
C – (Brainstorm) Creative alternatives to the current situation: Increase the choices available so you get out of the ‘stuck’ feeling and create a broader perspective.
H – Hone Goals: Alternatives are turned into SMART goals, specific, positive and desired results.
I – Initiate Options generation for Goal Achievement: Develop an abundant array of alternatives to achieve the selected goal. No option, however seemingly appealing, should form the sole focus of attention. At this stage, the quantity, novelty and variety of the options are more important than their quality or feasibility.
E – Evaluate Options: Develop meaningful criteria to evaluate and prioritize the generated options, develop focus for action.
V – (Design) a Valid Action Plan: Design a concrete and pragmatic action plan. Check the feasibility and achievability of the plan and commit to it.
E – Encourage Momentum: The new behavior must become the new reality through continuous encouragement and reinforcement.


OUTCOMES was created by Allan Mackintosh.

O – Objectives
: What are your objectives? Similar to Goals in GROW.
U – Understand the Reasons: This step ensures that you don’t overstretch or understretch yourself when setting your objectives.
T – Take Stock of the Present Situation: Similar to Reality in GROW
C – Clarify the GAP: Where are you now? Where do you need to get to? What gap needs to be filled?
O – Options Generation: Discuss pros and cons off each option. Take time. Don’t be biased toward a preconceived solution. Don’t jump to the first option.
M – Motivate to Action: Are you really motivated to move on the actions?
E – Enthusiasm and Encouragement: Show enthusiasm for the objectives. Receive encouragement to do as best you can.
S – Support: Be supportive and positive about what you’ve achieved so far and the efforts you’ve put in.

Note: The last 3 stages make it clear that there’s more to Way Forward than just acting. There must be a will to act, support and motivation in place to continue and progress.

Further Thoughts

The GROW model is a great starting point, and maybe all you need in terms of a coaching model.

Lots of coaches do very well with it and need nothing more.

However, once you know the GROW model well, you could also try some of the models above.

They may make it easier for you to go further in your reflection, to assess better your goals and options, to put emphasis not just on taking action but on making sure that there’s a process in place to review and adapt your action plan, systematize the positive actions, motivate and support.

Give the one that makes the most sense to you a try and let us know how you get on or if you have any questions.


Beyond GROW: 3 Coaching Models That Take You Positively Forward — 3 Comments

  1. I read as set your goals and plan of action. Then evaluate and adjust. Life is never as we planned. There will be stumbling blocks on the way and you need to be ready to tackle and pass them. Keep pushing and moving forward, it always work for me even when I cannot see any light at the end of the tunnel.

    • In all these models, there’s the thinking phase (taking stock of where you are, where you want to go from there and how to get there) and the acting phase. Generally the acting phase will last much longer than the thinking phase and, as you said, in that period of time much can happen in your life. Something could happen that makes the reasons for your goal uncessary.

      So it’s good practice to regularly revisit your goals, the reasons for your goals and reaffirm them or adjust them if necessary. This will also help keep your motivation up.

  2. There’s a lot of information here so it’s good that you put it in acronym forms. The first one, the GROW model, seems like a good place to start. It has the basic setup that you can use in a lot of different situations.

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