Coaching for performance: G.R.O.W.

“Let it grow, let it grow. Let it blossom, let it flow” Eric Clapton, 1974

While there are many models for coaching, they generally have a few things in common: active listening, open questioning and the creation of a reflective space in which to examine those assumptions and beliefs that are the foundations of courses of action. In conversations with other coaches, it’s also clear there is one problem solving model that is very widely used. This can also be used by managers looking to develop a coaching leadership style and the model is known by the acronym GROW.

GROW is a simple but effective way to direct thinking towards practical next steps and solutions and is equally as effective with straightforward tasks as with complex ones. Continue reading “Coaching for performance: G.R.O.W.”

How to get there: Orbit planning tool

In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable” attrib. Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1962

Often businesses or careers find themselves following a path of organic development or growth. A journey that is good enough to stay on, without necessarily being the ideal one. Of course circumstance and serendipity can intervene and many of the best opportunities are unexpected. But there is value in following a path that has been chosen rather than one that just happens.

Above all, this is because you tend to get to where you’re trying to get to. Motor racers call this target fixation: you naturally go to the point that you’re looking at (and if it’s the wrong point you’ll go there too). And your intuition is often a poor judge of where the next step should be; racers learn to follow conscious learnt behaviours rather than using their instincts in an emergency.

Continue reading “How to get there: Orbit planning tool”

Coaching as a management style: Carl Rogers and the humanists

It’s you I like,
It’s not the things you wear, it’s not the way you do your hair
But it’s you I like
The way you are right now,
The way down deep inside you
Not the things that hide you, not your toys
They’re just beside you

But it’s you I like
Every part of you, your skin, your eyes, your feelings
Whether old or new.
I hope that you’ll remember
Even when you’re feeling blue
That it’s you I like, it’s you yourself, it’s you.
It’s you I like

Fred Rogers, Mister Roger’s Neighborhood

There are differences between being coached by an external coach, rather than a manager or colleague. The most important of these is the perception you have of the other person. A manager, colleague or partner has a vested interest in outcomes in a way that an external coach doesn’t. Strangely, it’s the way that an external coach is disinterested, the extent to which they don’t rather than do care, that can make their involvement so powerful. Continue reading “Coaching as a management style: Carl Rogers and the humanists”

Why you should learn to stop worrying and love your anxiety instead

I recently met up with someone who’d just left their job because the worry and stress had built up to a point where it just wasn’t worth it anymore. In many ways it was a shame because it had been a fantastic role, the pinnacle of a brilliant career. But what’s the point when the anxiety from being at work overwhelms everything else?

Although there’s much more open discussion currently about the subject of anxiety, the details of the experience are mostly kept very private. But the point to understanding your anxiety is that it’s not a state, something that appears temporarily and then goes away. It’s a more or less constant trait, in many ways the very core of being human. It’s what drags us down and inhibits us yes. But it’s also the agitation and will that makes us go on and achieve, to give a damn and to change things.

The opposite of an anxious perspective is not necessarily one of calm and peace but often one of indifference and apathy. The point it not to eliminate your anxiety but to learn to live with it, since “a life that was anxiety-free would also be bereft of wonder, enthusiasm and excitement.” Continue reading “Why you should learn to stop worrying and love your anxiety instead”

What is Developmental Coaching?

At the start of any coaching engagement I always begin by establishing the goals and expectations of the client. A little while ago I started work with a new client who had a short-term priority that he wanted to tackle first. Christmas was coming, so in our first session, he wanted my ideas on quick wins to boost his sales. I told him I’d do my best to give him some ideas but also that they probably wouldn’t be very good.

He wanted to do it nonetheless so we spent an hour brainstorming some ideas.

Next time I saw him was after Christmas and I asked how his sales had gone and whether the quick wins we’d worked on last time around had made a difference. Sales had been great but he reluctantly admitted that the new ideas hadn’t really made any difference. I was very pleased as he looked at me and smiled saying “It doesn’t really work like that does it?” Continue reading “What is Developmental Coaching?”

How do I choose a coach?


There is a practical side to choosing a coach but the most important part is that you simply feel comfortable and confident with them.

I once coached somebody for an hour during which time I didn’t say anything at all. Literally, nothing. By the end of it they’d decided to take a three month sabbatical and get a new job. They were happily married, well-educated and with a wide circle of friends but they told me they couldn’t have had that conversation with anybody else.

Now I have no idea what actually went on there and claim no credit other than to know when to shut up. Most of the work that you do with a coach will come from you and consequently be a result of your feeling at ease with them. When you choose one, the single most important criteria is that it feels right and you trust them. Continue reading “How do I choose a coach?”

What does a coach do?


A coach primarily listens and encourages you to reflect and delve deeper into matters that are important to you. There is an ongoing conversation that you have with yourself. Psychologists call this “the narrator”; individuals often call it “me”. A coach will look to become part of that conversation, to break circular thinking and try to help you find greater clarity.

Conversations with friends, colleagues and confidantes can do this too. Verbalising your inner voice can give you different perspectives on your thoughts and help make more sense of them. If there’s a difference it may be in the extent to which a coaching conversation is one-way, for an extended period of time. Some people find this disconcerting to begin with and take a while to get used to a dynamic where the cares and concerns of the other person present do not have to be taken into account. Continue reading “What does a coach do?”