A Coaching Model Created by Vernon Stinebaker
(Agile Coach & Business Coach, CHINA)
A Framework for Coaching helping individuals and organizations aspire to their full potential. Vernon Stinebaker cira 2007
A Framework for Coaching
A coaching model should not be strict and inflexible. It should be adaptable, allowing the coach to dance in the moment with the client. It should provide gentle guidance encouraging curious, open, deep communication. The model provides structure, but not restriction. It provides guidance, but not limitation. It is not a process. It provides a framework from which any form may follow.
The WHOLE Model
I believe everyone has a purpose. I also believe everyone deserves a whole and meaningful life.
These beliefs provide the foundation of my coaching model, the WHOLE model.
The model itself is comprised of two components:
- A visual representation of the model
- The acronym WHOLE accompanied by related descriptions
These components, along with the underlying considerations and references, are presented in the following pages.
The WHOLE Model – Influences
The WHOLE model draws influences from a broad range of ideas, coaching models and frameworks including: the GROW model, the FACTS model, Co-Active Coaching, Mindfulness, Appreciative Inquiry, and Emotional Intelligence.
It also incorporates ideas from outside of my coaching studies, but intimately related, including the Six Dimensions of Wellness introduced by Dr. Bill Hettler and Abraham Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as core components of the composite model.
The WHOLE Model – Visual Model
The WHOLE Model – Visual Model
The visual representation of the WHOLE model depicts the core concepts of: wholeness of the individual, purpose, and achieving self-actualization through the relationship between being whole and aspiring to one’s purpose.
Interesting aspects of the visual model include:
- Bi-directional navigation
Holding Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a prism:
- Purpose informs us of what want to achieve — our vision and goals — which will support self-actualization. To achieve our purpose, we also must to be whole in ourselves, taking care of all dimensions of our wellbeing.
- Conversely, taking care of all aspects of our wellbeing towards becoming a whole person enables us to self-actualize and focus effective energy on our purpose.
- The whole person is held, gently, in the model; both at center of the six dimensions of health and in the acronym. Consistent with effective coaching, the person is the core.
The WHOLE Model – Acronym
|What||What you want to accomplish?|
|How||How will you get from now to your goal?|
|Obstacles||What obstacles, impediments, or challenges are in your way?|
|Likelihood||Given obstacles, values, beliefs, habits, etc., what options are likely to succeed?|
|Execute||What are you committed to doing or becoming?|
The WHOLE acronym is an easy-to-remember mnemonic that provides gentle guidance facilitating the flow of an effective coaching conversation. It’s not intended to be “the” model. It is simply a framework that can help us re-center if required.
The WHOLE Model – What
What: What do you want to accomplish?
In order to make forward progress, we need to understand where we are going. The what question helps us start a coaching session inquiring into what brings the client to the session and providing a foundation for establishing session goals.
This question is influenced by Start with Why (Sinik 2009), however the negative connotations associated with “why” questions prompt the use a more open ended “what” question to start our conversation (after the initial contract has been established, naturally).
The open ended “what” question helps us to get started. It helps co-create direction at the onset of the session. This isn’t intended to be a one-and-go question. We should spend time fully investigating what the client hopes to accomplish and establish an effective means of assessing how we will know that the “what” has been accomplished. We should also embrace the fact that, while dancing in the moment, direction can change. If that happens we can check-in with the client to see if they want to move in the new direction, or if they want to refocus on the original identified direction.
The WHOLE Model – How
How: How will you get from now to your goal(s)?
Having established a direction, focus shifts towards curious investigation. By probing how the client might move forward and advance learning through powerful questions and deep listening, we begin to uncover the underlying aspects that reflect the true issue or concerns, which is often deeper than what is initially presented.
Open ended what and how questions are a foundational to effective coaching. It’s appropriate that the model reflect the importance of powerful questions highlighting what and how in the first two letters of the acronym.
The client frequently presents something that appears to the goal, issue, or challenge that they want to resolve, but in fact may be a symptom instead of the actual root. A good coach, fully present with the client, listening with all their senses to hear what the client is saying and what they are not may be able to mirror, provide observation or feedback, or simply to allow enough space that the client may experience a shift in perspective or aha moment.
The WHOLE Model – Obstacles
Obstacles: What obstacles, impediments, or challenge are in your way?
Powerful questions often expose underlying assumptions, beliefs, structures, or other obstacles impeding forward progress and deeper learning. Through powerful questions, genuine curiosity, full presence and deep listening, these obstacles can often be identified and named providing context for deeper discovery.
Influenced by my background in Scrum, removing impediments is a key aspect for enabling individuals and teams. Through genuine curiosity we can help the client identify impediments that are holding them back, including things that may have heretofore gone unnoticed.
Exposing and naming the obstacles that are holding the client back often effects a powerful shift in perspective. Exposed to the light we can support the client in dissecting and understanding or simply accepting the obstacles, enabling them to identify opportunities and options for moving forward.
The WHOLE Model – Likelihood
Likelihood: Given obstacles, values, beliefs, habits, etc., what options are likely to succeed?
With obstacles exposed and armed with an understanding of their values, strengths, support structures, etc. and with options and opportunities identified, the client can assess which will provide the best likelihood of success.
People have a tendency to over-commit. Looking carefully at the likelihood for success of the various options can help the client establish more clarity.
Challenging the client to consider which options are more likely to result in success provides a powerful foundation for commitment and is a first step in moving forward. Without considering the likelihood of success the client may commit to options that are less viable resulting in reduced success. This, in turn, could undermine self-confidence creating an additional impediment. Helping the client clarify the likelihood of success across their options best positions them to select, commit and move forward.
The WHOLE Model – Execute
Execute: What are you committed to doing or becoming?
Having established the most likely set of options and committing to them advance, the client now moves to take action — to execute — to create forward progress or deeper learning.
Establishing goals and committing to them are important first steps, but forward movement or deeper learning require action — executing the plan to effect a result. Oftentimes, however, if focus is only goal oriented it may dissipate once the goal has been achieved. Deeper, lasting transformations require more than a focus on achieving the goal, they require ongoing focus and execution.
Without action there is no coaching. Coaching helps establish structure and support that enable the client to execute on their commitment and achieve results, moving forward and deepening their learning. Challenging the client and providing support that enables long-term sustainable execution is a key means by which the coach can support the development of the whole person.
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