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How To Use the GROW Coaching Model (+Questions and Template)

How To Use the GROW Coaching Model (+Questions and Template)

Did you know that employees whose leaders are effective coaches are 20% more likely to stay at their company, 40% more engaged with their job, and willing to exert up to 38% more discretionary effort? If recent studies on coaching in the workplace tell us anything, it’s that today’s employees aren’t motivated by bosses who dictate and demand - they’re motivated by leaders who coach them, care for them, and develop them.

If you’re keen on making the transition from boss to coach, it’s not only going to take time, training, and experience to get to a place where you’re a confident coach; it’s also going to require practical tools and techniques. Fortunately, that’s where the GROW coaching model comes in.

If you’ve never heard of this coaching model, this blog is for you. First, we’ll review what the GROW model stands for and how you can use it as a people leader. Then, we’ll provide you with a list of coaching questions and an editable GROW model template so that you can immediately start applying it in your day-to-day leadership practice.


What Is the GROW Model?

The GROW model is a relatively simple framework for asking questions during a coaching conversation or session. GROW stands for Goal, Reality, Options, and Will. The purpose is to give your coaching conversations more structure and prompt the individual being coached to come to their own conclusions and find their own answers. The GROW model was created by UK leadership and coaching expert, Sir John Whitmore, and was featured in his 1992 book, Coaching for Performance. Today, it is one of the most well-known and popular coaching models.

The GROW Coaching Model


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What Are the 4 Elements Of the GROW Model? (+ Questions)

As the acronym suggests, the GROW model is comprised of four elements: Goal, Reality, Options, and Will. According to Sir John Whitmore, the idea is to work chronologically through the four elements. Below you will find a brief explanation of each of the four elements, as well as a corresponding list of questions.



In the GROW model, the G stands for Goal. At the beginning of any coaching conversation, you need to define the purpose and goal of the conversation. This is your chance to mutually agree on why you both are there and what you each want to get out of the conversation. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during this time:

  • When you leave this conversation, what do you want to have that you don’t have now?
  • What would you like to work on?
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • What are you trying to change/tackle?
  • Where would you like to be on this problem by the end of the conversation?



In the GROW model, the R stands for Reality, and this is the time when you lay out all the facts and assess the situation as it currently stands. During this part of the coaching conversation, you will also want to discuss how the current reality is affecting the individual being coached and those around them. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during this time:

  • What is happening?
  • Where are you right now?
  • How often does this happen?
  • Who else is involved?
  • What have you done/tried already?
  • What are the obstacles? Can they be overcome?
  • Who is affected by this, and to what extent?
  • What would happen if you did nothing about this?
  • What resources are available to you?



In the GROW model, the O stands for Options. After you have laid out all the facts and have a good sense of the reality of the situation, you want your coachee to start brainstorming and seeing all the potential options they have to achieve the goal you set together in the beginning. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during this time:

  • What is possible?
  • What are your options?
  • Who could you tap into for help/support?
  • What resources are available to you that could be used?
  • What would [insert name here] do?
  • What would you do if you had more [money/time/resources/etc.]?
  • What has worked in the past?
  • What are the pros and cons of your options?



In the GROW model, the W can stand for Will, Way Forward, What’s Next, or Wrap Up. Regardless of what you choose to call it, this final part of any coaching conversation should be spent co-creating an action plan and defining what exactly your coachee is accountable for. Here are a few examples of questions you can ask during this time:

  • What are you going to do?
  • Which of the options that we discussed will you act on?
  • What will it take for you to do that?
  • When will you begin?
  • What will your first step be?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • How will you know when you’ve succeeded?


How To Use the GROW Model: Step-by-Step Instructions

The GROW model isn’t a single-use coaching model. Whether the topic of your coaching conversation is an employee’s recent mistake, performance, behavior, career trajectory, or just about anything else, the GROW model coaching can be applied. This makes it a highly valuable coaching tool to get familiar with and practice using. If you’re unsure how to use the GROW model exactly, refer to these simple step-by-step instructions:

  1. Find a time and place for the coaching conversation where you won’t be rushed or interrupted.
  2. Start the conversation by explaining your goal and asking the coachee what their goal is.
  3. Once you have mutually agreed upon a goal, begin asking some of the Reality questions listed above. Your goal shouldn’t be to ask as many questions as possible but rather, to have a meaningful conversation that gives you both a fully developed sense of the current situation.
  4. Next, select a few of the Options questions listed above and pose them to your coachee. At this step, you don’t want just to give them the answers. Instead, you want to ask questions and then let your coachee come up with their own answers and solutions.
  5. Finally, wrap up the coaching conversation by reviewing the appropriate questions from the Way Forward section above. 
  6. Send an email recapping what you discussed, the action plan, and any next steps. 


Next Steps: Use the GROW Model Template

GROW Model Template from Niagara InstituteNow that you have a better understanding of the GROW coaching model, a list of questions, and step-by-step instructions to refer to, you’re just about ready to begin using the model yourself. The one last thing that will help you is this GROW model template. Not only does it have all the possible questions listed above, but it also has space to capture notes on each of the four elements so that you have a record of each coaching conversation and can refer back to it again at a later time.

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