6 Essential Coaching Models & Styles: GROW and Beyond

Essential Coaching Models & Styles: GROW and Beyond

Coaching models like GROW can help you plan your sessions, structure your conversations, and get your clients from A to B with an effective, focused journey.

We’ve covered some of the most essential coaching models in this resource so that you can apply the best one and maximize your clients’ chances of success.

The GROW Coaching Model

Like all coaching models, the GROW model is a structured approach for designing coaching programs that take clients from where they are now to where they want to be.

diagram of grow model with four steps
The GROW model is a simple, practical, and powerful framework for creating personalized coaching programs.

The GROW coaching model helps you guide others by creating a journey based on four steps, as shown above:[1]

  • Goal: What is your goal?
  • Reality: What is your current situation?
  • Options: What might you do to get there?
  • Will: What are your next steps?

Thanks to its simplicity and extensive applicability, the GROW framework is one of the most popular coaching models. The four steps provide an easy approach to creating personalized coaching sessions and programs: identify a goal, help your client understand their circumstances, brainstorm options, and commit to practical actions.

4 Leadership Coaching Styles & Techniques

Whether you’re a professional coach or an organizational leader, your coaching style is simply a combination of the models, methods, and coaching techniques that you use to help your clients. A framework like GROW, when personalized to suit your client, is just one way to impact their progress considerably.

By understanding and developing your unique style, you can play to your strengths and stand out as a professional or as a leader. Let’s look at three coaching styles based on leadership studies by social psychologist Kurt Lewin.

Autocratic Coaching Style

With autocratic or authoritarian coaching, the coach specifies a vision for what the client needs to achieve, and sessions rarely involve input from the latter.

In the workplace, this might look like a leader dictating their employees’ goals, as well as all the coaching methods and processes involved.

An autocratic coaching style is typically considered a one-way learning process and may be used where participants need to learn a specific practice to enhance their skills.[2]

Democratic Coaching Style

As the name suggests, democratic coaching is when coaches use client input to facilitate goal-setting and decision-making. Clients or employees enjoy plenty of autonomy in these coaching contexts and play an active role in their own development and direction. However, the coach may retain the final say about goals and objectives.

Democratic coaching styles encourage creativity, communication, and self-agency in coachees.

Holistic Coaching Style

Also known as “laissez-faire coaching,” holistic coaching gives the client or employee even more power and freedom in the coach-coachee relationship.

The client possesses all the decision-making power in these scenarios, and the coach’s role is limited to providing guidance and advice.

This style is based on the premise that clients have the self-efficacy to accomplish their own goals and priorities with minimal intervention from leadership.[3]

Recommended: Understanding Different Coaching Styles: A Comprehensive guide

5 Best Methods For Training Employees

So, there are many styles you can employ as a coach, and some will feel more natural than others.

Alongside your style, employing effective coaching methods can make it much more likely that your coaching experience will be a good one.

Employing effective coaching methods can make it much more likely that your coaching experience will be a good one.

If you are a leader who is responsible for training your employees, here is a list of coaching methods that can help you maximize their development in the workplace:

  1. Assessing needs: Assessments like a pre-coaching questionnaire (pictured below) can improve your coachee’s awareness of their challenge and circumstances. The insights from these assessments can help you focus your sessions, especially when used to inform coaching models such as GROW. Digital pre-coaching questionnaires are available as templates in coaching software and can easily be customized to suit your goals.
  2. Active listening: This technique is critical for building engagement in coachees by facilitating self-expression. Active listening involves a suite of coaching skills to help you build trust and empathize with those you are coaching: asking open-ended questions, paraphrasing, summarizing, and clarifying are just a few.
  3. Motivational interviewing: This is a range of techniques that can be used to encourage a coachee to consider their challenge/goal from multiple perspectives. It can help them explore their ambivalence about a situation and thus develop their intrinsic motivation to change.[4]
  4. Giving feedback: Sharing specific, timely feedback with your coachees allows them to shape their behavior more effectively. Feedback is most useful when it is delivered regularly, focuses on continuous improvement, and helps your coachee identify their next steps.
  5. Following up: Checking in with your coachees after or between training sessions is a great way to encourage continued progress by keeping their development top of mind. Check-ins can be done via live chat through a coaching app and should be focused on motivating and reinforcing the learning of your coachee.
Pre-Coaching Questionnaire Expansion desktop Preview in Quenza
Quenza’s Pre-Coaching Questionnaire is an example assessment that can help you learn more about your coachees’ development needs.

If you’re looking for more effective ways to develop your employees, check out our special guide: How To Develop A Training Program For Employees

A Look At Instructional Models

Just as with any other type of coaching, models can be useful for coaches who work with teachers or trainers to improve their instructional practices.

While you’ll need to take your needs, goals, and resources into consideration, there are a few different models you can implement:[5]

  • Student-centered coaching: This model aims to enhance pupil achievement by improving the teacher’s use of planning, assessments, and instruction. Student-centered coaching is focused on student data as opposed to specific elements of the teacher’s performance.
  • ContentFocused Coaching (CFC) Programme: This model provides teachers with intensive coaching on specific subjects to enhance the quality of their instruction, as well as their students’ understanding of it.
  • Cognitive Coaching: This model centers around conversations; as a coach, you’ll employ strategies like paraphrasing and strategic questioning to enable teachers to figure out what they should do on their own.

Take a look at some of the coaching questions you can adapt to suit your work as an instructional coach.

2 Examples of Business Coaching Models

Most popular coaching models are effective because they lend themselves very well to a variety of coaching niches.

Building off these basics, here are a few models besides GROW you can use in business coaching.


Developed by McKergow and Jackson, this framework focuses on solutions instead of problems in a sequence of five stages:[6]

  1. Outcome: Establishing the goals and desired outcome of a coaching session
  2. Scaling: On a scale of 1-10, quantifying how close your coachee is to achieving the Outcome
  3. Know-how and Resources: Identifying the skills, certifications, knowledge, and attributes that will help them progress.
  4. Affirm and Action: Focusing on the skills, attributes, and behaviors that are already working for the coachee. This is followed by a focus on the actions they need to take to move forward and overcome their challenges.
  5. Review: A review of the coachee’s actions, improvements, and next steps. This is generally conducted at the start of a coaching session.


The CLEAR model is widely used in executive and leadership coaching, consisting of five stages:

  1. Contract: A coaching conversation regarding how the coach and client will collaborate in that session, the coachee’s goals for the session, how they will know that they are making progress, and what the focus will be.
  2. Listen: The coach listens actively to the client’s feelings, stories, and context to understand their position on the coaching topic.
  3. Explore: Asking questions to help the coachee understand their feelings about where they are now, what they hope to change, and their potential future state.
  4. Action: Asking questions that facilitate planning around potential actions, an exploration of how the client feels about those actions, and that help them commit to the right actions for them.
  5. Review: A wrap-up of what happened in the session and the progress made by the client.

Looking to design your own business coaching program using one of these frameworks? Check out our recommendations for the best business coaching software.

Final Thoughts

The right coaching model can provide the structure you need to plan a strategic journey and make sure your client stays on track.

If one of these approaches seems the perfect fit with your coaching philosophy and clients, start mapping out your coaching program with our $1 Quenza trial.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the purpose of a coaching model?

A coaching model provides a structured approach for coaches to help clients identify goals, develop plans, and track progress. Benefits include improved effectiveness, client understanding, and communication. The purpose is to help clients achieve their goals and maximize their potential.

What is the most commonly used coaching model?

The GROW model is the most commonly used coaching model. It stands for:

– Goal: What is the goal? 
– Reality: What is the current reality? 
– Options: What are your options? 
– Way forward: What are you willing to do?

What are the 4 types of coaching?

Life coaching (1) focuses on improving the overall quality of life, while executive coaching (2) aims to develop leadership skills and improve performance in the workplace. Career coaching (3) helps individuals navigate their careers and make informed decisions, and business coaching (4) helps entrepreneurs and business owners improve their businesses


About the author

Catherine specializes in Organizational and Positive Psychology, helping entrepreneurs, clinical psychologists and OD specialists grow their businesses by simplifying their digital journeys.


  1. M Merlin

    Another great article, Catherine. Thank you!

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