Coaching as a Leadership Skill

As managers we often become so adept at problem-solving for others that we risk missing the profoundly effective tool of coaching. What’s the difference?

Have you ever wrestled with a problem before having someone tell you a solution? Contrast that experience with having someone else ask you a question that prompts a thought where you arrive at a solution yourself. Which experience was more impactful? Which approach grew you? Which solution conjured up a stronger feeling of commitment?
Coaching is about helping someone get from where they are to where they want or need to be. It typically involves the art of asking thought-provoking, open-ended questions that facilitate self-discovery so the person being coached comes to their own conclusions.
While not the appropriate tool for every situation as a people manager, coaching can have a profound impact on the development of both the person being coached and the person coaching. The challenge for some is that coaching often feels too unfamiliar, time-consuming or difficult.

The G.R.O.W. Model is a simple yet powerful framework for structuring coaching conversations that is easy to remember, making coaching more accessible to all who see its value.
With each letter in the acronym representing a different type of question to ask, the G.R.O.W. Model helps you pick the right questions and equips you to ask coaching questions in the right order.
This tool is:
  • A framework for approaching coaching
  • Applicable to conversations about goals
  • Useful for formal and informal manager/employee conversations
  • Flexible for quick conversations and status meetings
As a leader, one of your most important roles is to coach your people to do their best. By doing this, you’ll help them make better decisions, solve problems that are holding them back, learn new skills, and otherwise progress their careers. Asking coaching questions, rather than telling someone what they should do, is the best way to mentally engage your team member. The best part is that the skill can be learned with a little practice.
How can you remember and best apply The G.R.O.W. Model?
    1. Think of what happens when we use a GPS to navigate as a way to remember the types and order of questions in The G.R.O.W. Model. What information is required first?
Your destination (G for Goal). What comes next?
Your current location (R for Reality…where you are/what’s true today).
Then the GPS returns multiple routes. (O for Options).
Finally, we select the desired path. (W for Way forward, or what WILL you do).
    1. Practice a range of questions within each step to expand your capability and find your own “voice” as a coach using the following as a starting point:
            • G – Goal
              • What does success look like? How will you know when you reach/achieve it? What would you like to happen that is not happening now? What do you want?
            • R – Reality
              • What is the current state like? What effect does this have? Who else is involved? What have you tried so far to address the issue? What resources do you have?
            • O – Options
              • What else could you do? What if this or that constraint were removed? Are there alternatives to that approach? What are the advantages and disadvantages of that approach? What obstacles stand in your way?
            • W – Way Forward
              • What are you deciding? What commitment are you prepared to make? What’s the next action? Who can support you? What else needs to be done to move forward?
    1. Get exposure to other resources like this one on being more coach-like as a manager: