Research Paper By Keng Loong Cheah
(Career Coach, SINGAPORE)
Is coaching an art or a science? While it is hard to dispute that there is an element of spontaneity in coaching, there has to also be certain guiding principles or frameworks in which coaches use to ensure that their coaching brings the best results.Coaching models help us understand the coaching intervention from a systems perspective, and to understand the need for “structure” in the interaction between coach and client. Models help us to develop flexibility as coach practitioners. In this research paper, we shall do a study on five models/principles and explore how they are used in coaching.
The GROW model is a method for goal setting and problem solving used extensively in corporate coaching from 1980s. While no one person was identified as the creator, Graham Alexander, Alan Fine, and Sir John Whitmore have made significant contributions to the model and its proliferation.
Goals – What are your Goals?What are your aspirations?
Reality – What is the Reality? What is your current situation and beliefs?
Options – What are your Options? What are the possibilities and resources open to you?
Will – What Will you do? What actions you want to take to achieve personal and professional goals?
The GROW Model works on the premise that coaching is used to realize people’s potential to create the best performance. It is about supporting people to gain awareness and take responsibility, help them to learn rather than teach them what to do.
To increase coaching effectiveness, a coach can re-explore each step as necessary and in any sequence to ensure that the coachee has the space to think deeply as they may not have previously or they could be withholding the core underlying issues earlier.
Goals – What do you want? What more do you want?
Reality – What is happening now? Exactly what is happening now?
Options – What could you do? What else could you do?
Will – What will you do? Precisely what will you do?
According to Sir John Whitmore, like any model, GROW is not the truth, nor is GROW by itself coaching. It is necessary first to develop a coaching mindset and authentic coaching behaviours in order to discover how powerful GROW can be. 
Jonathan Passmore and Stefan Cantore have suggested that one
argument against behavioural-based approaches such as GROW is that their goal nature excludes the potential to explore philosophical aspects of life. Therefore, GROW may be suited to working in goal-directed areas of sports or business, but may be less well suited to careers conversations, person–role fit or life-coaching conversations where other approaches such as the transpersonal or existential approaches may be more helpful.
The FUEL coaching model was developed by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett.The model has the coach asking open-ended, non-leading questions to guide the conversation instead of from telling, directing, instructing, and giving advice. This approach allows the individual to assess the situation, determine their own solution, and take ownership and accountability for the outcome.
The four steps in the FUEL coaching model are:
Frame the conversation – Set the context and focus for conversation. Agree on purpose, process, and desired outcomes of the coaching conversation.
Understand the current state – Help the coachee gain awareness about their present situation to determine their perspective.
Explore the desired state – Enable the coachee to think about and determine their desired state. Come up with multiple alternative routes to achieve that desired state.
Lay out a success plan – Support the coachee in creating a detailed action plan with specific, time-bound steps to be taken to achieve the goal
One of the underlying tenets mentioned by Zenger and Stinnett is:
You still get to have a point of view. Especially as a manager coaching your direct reports, you will have a point of view and want to bring it into the conversation. We are not asking you to stay silent while your coachee struggles or turns to you for guidance. However, we will explore why the right time to offer your insights is nearly always after the coachee’s turn.
From this statement, we can deduce that the creators of the FUEL model believe that the coach can intervene and offer his insights at the appropriate time during the coaching conversation. The coach can even raise the issue to kick off the coaching conversation, as mentioned in the Coaching Conversation Guide.
Similar to the GROW model, there is an element of problem-solving approach in the FUEL model, which may cause it to be one-dimensional, to a certain extent.
Three Dimensional Coaching
Three Dimensional Coaching is a holistic approach that gives a comprehensive foundation that covers the three dimensions of a human being: Mind, Emotions & Body.The method recognizes that a client’s life is not neatly compartmentalized into discrete and separate areas, there is always an overlap between mind, emotions, and body.
The Seasons Model – Mind
This is based on a model for adult renewal and development that was originally developed by Dr. Frederic Hudson and Dr. Pamela McLean. Most people grow up viewing life in a linear fashion (eg: graduate from high school, graduate from college, get married, have kids).
The unique power of this model for a coach lays in understanding that different domains of life is cyclical in nature and not a linear progression. Coaching a client through a Mini-Transition Season is different than coaching a client through a Restructuring Season.
Mastering the Renewal Cycle presents you, the coach, with a rich foundation of understanding of the different dynamics, stages, and domains of your client’s’ life.
The Performance Focus Model – Emotions
The Performance Coaching Model serves as a guideline for individuals and organizations seeking results-based performance. Although presented as a separate coaching model, it is intended to be used in conjunction with both the Seasons Model and the Somatic Model.
Within the framework of this model is a core set of coaching skills that the coach must master if he or she is going to be effective. These skills are not suggestions.They are the core skill set that all of your coaching activities will depend on upon. These core coaching skills are what Blaine calls the AIRAD skills, which are:
This model provides a very comprehensive framework which details the flow of a coaching conversation, the essential skills that a coach should possess, identifies key values of coaching and how to structure an optimal coaching environment.
The Somatic Coaching Model – Body
Developed by Dr. Richard Strozzi-Heckler, founder of the Strozzi Institute, Somatic Coachingis a discipline that requires the coach to take into account their body and the body of their client as legitimate areas of focus for substantive and lasting change.
Essentially, the life and the body are one.The value in bringing a somatic consciousness into the coaching process is that it provides yet another pathway to awakening awareness in the client.
The Co-Active® Coaching Model
Developed by Henry and Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, and Laura Whitworth, the Co-Active® Coaching Model has three fundamental principles — three essential attributes of a client’s whole life: the client’s Fulfillment, Balance and Process. The ultimate intention of all Co-Active® Coaching is to help clients maximize their life in these three principle areas. One of the things that makes Co-Active® Coaching unique is that it is principle-based, not just content or issue-based.
The Four Cornerstones
- People are naturally creative, resourceful and whole.
- Dance in this moment.
- Focus on the whole person.
- Evoke transformation.
The Five Contexts
There are five contexts: listening, self-management, intuition, curiosity, and Forward the Action/Deepen the Learning. Unlike skills, these five contexts are not something that a coach does; rather, together they comprise the ground from which the coaching unfolds.
Co-Active® Coaching skills include specific techniques and skills such as the skill of acknowledgement, bottom-lining, or requesting. These skills have identifiable attributes and the skills are developed through training and experience.
The Client’s Agenda
The client is the “star” in the Co-Active® Coaching model and in the heart of the client’s life live the three core principles of Fulfillment, Balance and Process. These three principles represent the underlying agenda for the client’s life and they are the ultimate focus of all the coaching. There will be specific issues to work on: career change, time management, exercise, dealing with loss — they are the specific agenda items clients bring to their coaching — and they lead to Fulfillment, Balance and Process.
What is fulfilling for clients will be intensely personal. We look at fulfillment as living a valued life, today. It is always available, every day, by living according to what the client values most. It is an internal orientation. So fulfillment is no longer something that will be achieved in the elusive future, it is possible today. Achieving goals can be very satisfying, but most clients find that living a life on purpose, on the path toward the goal is fulfilling as well.
Because life is always in motion, balance is a dynamic concept. Clients are moving toward better balance or away. It is never static. It is not a place to be reached. Coaching for balance begins by inviting clients to look at their lives from a variety of perspectives in order to be free to choose their own version of a balanced life. Balance coaching is about helping clients make life-giving choices. It is also about creating a plan of action based on their choices, committing to the plan, and moving into action. The coaching relationship provides a powerful structure of accountability for clients to be in action.
We are always in the process of our lives. Sometimes it looks graceful, elegant, flowing. Sometimes it looks stuck in the mud. Sometimes it looks gleeful and energized. Sometimes it looks like struggle and pain. Where we are in the process is where we are — whether we want to be there or not. The coach’s job with process coaching is to be with clients wherever they are in the river of their life: whether it’s the fast-moving axis of the current, or the swampy backwater. The coach’s job is to help clients go through the process so they can get to the other side. When clients avoid or deny where they are — it simply prolongs the stalemate. It’s like trying to hold back the river. It brings to mind the old adage, “the things we resist, persist.” Instead of fighting it… or wishing it would be different… go with it and flow with it.
The Three Principles
Developed by philosopher and author Sydney Banks, The Three Principles are elemental principles that create and govern the human experience: 
The Universal Mind, or the impersonal mind, is constant and unchangeable. The personal mind is in a perpetual state of change. All humans have the inner ability to synchronize their personal mind with their impersonal mind to bring harmony into their lives.
Consciousness is the gift of awareness. Consciousness allows the recognition of form, form being the expression of Thought… Mental health lies within the consciousness of all human beings, but it is shrouded and held prisoner by our own erroneous thoughts. This is why we must look past our contaminated thoughts to find the purity and wisdom that lies inside our own consciousness.
Thought is the creative agent we use to direct us through life. Thought is the master key that opens the world of reality to all living creatures. Thought is not reality; yet it is through Thought that our realities are created.
Intelligence vs Intellect
Renowned coach Michael Neill used The Three Principles as a basis for his coaching, and extrapolates further: 
Our minds have two modes – receptive and active. When our personal mind is in “receptive mode”, our thinking settles down and we gain access to a kind of an inner genius – an intelligence that comes from somewhere beyond our personal database which will guide us through even the most difficult of circumstances. When our “personal mind” is in active mode, we access our intellect – a kind of a processing capacity to quickly sift through available information in support of a specific result.
Both modes of mind are useful, but most of us use the processing capacity of the intellect as our primary means of navigating life and the guiding wisdom of our genius intelligence only when we “really need to”.The benefits of reversing this pattern are immediate and universal. As your intellect settles down and your intelligence kicks in more and more, you will:
- feel more at peace
- have insights more often, both simple and profound
- get “philosophical” about life and take things less personally
- connect more deeply with others”
As presented in this research paper, there are many coaching models that are being used, from goal-oriented processes to philosophical and spiritual principles. Coaches have a great deal of flexibility when working with coaching models, while it is essential to have a big-picture structure to a coaching conversation, a coaching conversation can take place only when the coach is truly present in the moment and responds to what shows up in the conversation, that is when the magic happens!
- Passmore, Jonathan; Cantore, Stefan (2012). “Helping others to set goals: the GROW model”. Top business psychology models: 50 transforming ideas for leaders, consultants, and coaches. London; Philadelphia: Kogan Page. pp. 20–23. ISBN9780749464653. OCLC779740299.
- Zenger, Stinnett (2010) The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others grow. Pp 31
- Banks (1998)The Missing Link: Reflections on Philosophy and Spirit