We are going to look at the T.G.R.O.W coaching model today. Peppered with lots of my own thoughts about what to do in each section, it is based on my experience with my clients in the past 8 years – I’m getting the hang of it.

What is the T.G.R.O.W coaching method?

T.G.R.O.W coaching is pretty much the structure of every coaching session and will guide you in coaching not consulting with your clients/coachees. There is nothing wrong with consulting, except in a coaching session. (Unsure of the difference between coaching and consulting?)

You need to get a shift in your coachee’s thinking and/or behaviour for coaching to have taken place in the session. It might only be a slight shift – even the slightest of shifts can bring about exponential results. 

Here’s a quote from someone who knows a thing or two about coaching:

business coaching quote

The model

T – Topic

G – Goal

R – Reality

O – Options

W – Willingness

T stands for Topic. 

You need to get clarity about the topic that your client/coachee wants to address. Clarification and exploration of the scale of the topic are essential to understand the bigger picture in terms of why this is important to the coachee and maybe their longer-term vision. 

Discussing the Topic can uncover issues which are different from what the coachee originally said they wanted to cover and may change the focus of the coaching session and a need to re-prioritise. Challenge your coachee if they have a different priority to what was originally discussed or agreed. Explore the reason for re-prioritising and then continue the session.

This Topic stage can differentiate the bigger picture from the specific goals that arise in the Goal stage. It forms a solid foundation and ensures that goals are set after the bigger picture is clarified. If you set goals before the motivation behind it is checked, it can lead to irrelevant goals which the coachee is not committed to. 

Remember… A coach facilitates change in a person’s behaviour by unlocking their potential to maximise their own performance.

As their coach, you need to guide them to learn how to achieve self-improvement by supporting the individual in a safe environment of trust, in order to acquire the necessary tools and skills and to identify barriers that stand in the way of them achieving personal and professional goals.

It is essential for you to have a willing and engaged coachee who you have a rapport with, as this is the oxygen of the coaching process.      

A great coach will have initiative, emotional intelligence, self-awareness and good listening skills and bring about a change in thinking or behaviour by using non-directive language and questions. 

As their coach, you need to have optimism about your coachee’s ability to change and work with them with empathy.  Do not collude with your coachee. 

Some questions you could ask:

Ask open questions so that you do not get a yes/no answer and the coachee needs to explore their thoughts deeply. 

  • “what else could you do? And what else…and what else?”  

It is not a linear set of thinking, it is expanded. When they say ‘nothing’, say, 

  • “Well if there was something else what would it be?”  
  • Where do you want to start today?
  • Where are you with your thinking for today’s session?
  • What topic do you want to cover today?
  • What areas do you want to address?
  • What is behind this?
  • What is missing for you right now?
  • What would this mean to you?
  • How important is this to you?

The caveat to this would be when a coachee is getting lost in their stories or is very talkative and you feel like you are herding squirrels, don’t ask open questions, ask some questions which are a Yes/No answer to move along.

Ask the right questions, in the right sequence.

Getting the questioning sequence right is what gets the results, below is a simple formula you can follow:




  • Where do you want to go?
  • Where are you now?
  • What is getting in the way?
  • What would happen if it could be removed?
  • What will be the consequences of not doing it?
  • What will be the benefit of achieving it?
  • How much do you want to do it?

Apply this structure, whatever they are saying.

  • Craft the questions to fit the situation.
  • Predicate the timeframes.
  • Establish the next steps.

Remember to ask a closed/ specific question if you want to move on quickly.

Be the coach… ask challenging questions.

What have you overcome so far?

If your coachee is crying… just take a moment, then ask them, “If you were to fix one thing right now, what would help you on the road to resolving this?”

“Would it be useful if we explored that?”.

DON’T ASK LEADING QUESTIONS – It changes the control. You need to empower not disempower your clients.

DO NOT ASK MULTIPLE QUESTIONS – they will seem like a blur to your coachee and they will latch on to 1 thing and you lose the rest.

G stands for Goal or Goals. 

The setting of specific goals – long/medium/short term and for the session itself.

Example questions to ask are:

  • What is the problem that you want to resolve?
  • What do you want to work on?
  • What are you looking to achieve?
  • What outcome do you want to get?

In this section, it is important to time frame the goals. In the Topics section, you are less likely to do this, as you will be more focussed on the over-arching goals.

R stands for Reality. 

In the reality section of the coaching process, you need to establish and understand where the coachee is now in relation to their goals? You need to read between the lines and make sure that they are not in denial or delusional about their current reality.

Questions in this area could be:

  • So, where are you now?
  • Where are the interferences to resolving/creating this?
  • What are the key barriers to resolving the situation?
  • What have you done so far?
  • What is likely to happen if things do not change? 
  • How is it impacting you?
  • How is it making you feel?

Ask questions that inform not instruct the coachee for a breakthrough. Do not ‘lead the witness’. 

Do not offer solutions. It needs to be their idea to keep the balance of power firmly with the coachee. If it is your idea, there will not be the same motivation to make it work.

O stands for Options. 

Explore options for moving forward. The options and willingness sections establish responsibility.

Use the 4 quadrants model here.

Discuss. The coachee will be doing 75% of the talking in the coaching session. Remember WAIT… Why Am I Talking? 

Explore the Impact vs Difficulty.

Ask questions to stimulate your coachee’s thinking.

Power of the observer – you will do more learning by being quiet.

Wisdom is being quiet when you wish you were talking.

Look at the critical drivers, K.P.I.s that will measure, manage and control the parameters for R.O.I.

Why – Do not use WHY– it will lead your coachee to make excuses or blaming something or someone.

Ask questions which take your coachee Up to abstract level, Down to a specific level.

  • Where do you want to get to?
  • Where do you want to start?
  • What would be an ideal outcome?
  • What difference will it make?
  • What else can you do? LISTEN…What else? LISTEN…What else? KEEP GOING…
  • What have you done in similar situations?
  • Who else could support you with this?
  • Who could give you a different perspective?
  • What is your preferred option?
  • What would be the next best thing if this is not possible?
  • How will you start it?
  • Identify and agree on specific action/s.

W stands for Willingness. 

Sometimes, in GROW models, the W is listed as WRAP UP.

I prefer Willingness as this is critical to establish to ensure your coachee is committed to achieving the goal. This is a good place to use the Line of Continuum model that you learn in the P.R.O.F.I.T System.

Questions in this area might include:

  • Where are you with your willingness to do this?
  • Where do you need to start?
  • What is the smallest thing you can do to get started and move forward?
  • What obstacles do you think you might face?
  • What could get in the way of you doing this?
  • What is the next step? LISTEN. When?
  • Who needs to know?
  • What support will you need to keep on track?
  • How do you want us to work together on this?
  • What is the best way for us to follow up?
  • How do you want to keep you accountable?

Now it is time to practice T.G.R.O.W Coaching yourself! Look at what you want to achieve for yourself. Find someone who is stuck with achieving a goal and get practising. 

By all means, reach out in the Facebook forum and support/work with each other. 

Pam Featherstone

Pam is a world-renowned, multi-award-winning, business coach, entrepreneur, global trainer, speaker and author. She has over 36 years of experience in entrepreneurship, management, and business planning.

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