3  |  Common  Coaching Models


The basic or ongoing  coaching agreement discussed earlier always serves as the foundation for defining and describing what a coaching conversation looks like. The three models highlighted in this chapter reflect the ongoing agreement and also provide interesting twists in how the five questions that make up the basic agreement might unfold during a session. Students often find language used to describe the steps listed in these models to be helpful. Consider how these models may support your clients' desired outcomes.


The following coaching model will provide a framework you can come back to over and over again as your skills progress and you coach more diverse and interesting people and situations.  It’s a model I learned about in my training with Val Hastings and his organization, Coaching 4 Clergy. You’ll notice that it reflects the flow of the ongoing agreement that was highlighted in Chapter One. Many students like this model because it’s based on the image of building a solid house that has a foundation and a strong roof.

The goal as a coach is to listen so closely to your client that the answers come out. The ideal ratio is that you are listening 80% of the time and responding 20% of the time. It is absolutely critical that the client feels fully understood. Practice this step by:
  • Listening not just with your ears, but with your eyes and your whole being.
  • Listening to the client's tone, inflection, rate, and pitch.
  • Listening not just to what’s said, but to what’s not said.
  • Paying attention to the last thing that is said.
  • Listening without judgment, criticism, or agenda.
  • Listening without thinking about what you will be say or ask next.

Prompt the client to say more. Evoking is like opening the tap. You are attempting to get beyond the surface and move to the source of the issue. Examples of evocative responses:
  • Hmmmm . . . tell me more.
  • What else do you want to say about this?
  • Is there anything else you want me to know?

Once the client has shared and has actively engaged with you, it’s important to respond and clarify what is being said. This offers the client an opportunity to hear what they have just verbalized from a slightly different perspective. It also ensures that you and the client are on the same page. Examples of clarifying techniques include:
  • I heard you say... (mirroring)
  • I sense that... (paraphrasing or reflecting back)
  • Is this what you mean? (verifying)
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how committed are you to this, with 1 being not important and 10 being extremely important? (rating)
  • Number these things based on which is most important to you, with 1 being not important and 10 being extremely important. (ranking)

Once there is clarity about the topic at hand, you and the client can now begin to go below the surface and further discuss the issue. Questions are central to the coaching process.  A few examples of questions include:
  • What are the options/opportunities here? Let’s list them all.
  • What’s the simplest solution? What’s the craziest solution?
  •  What’s the payoff of NOT dealing with this?
  • What’s stopping you?
  • What do you want to be able to say about this situation three months from now that you can’t say today?
  • What do you really, want?

Step 5: Support
Action is central to the coaching experience. Supporting the client to design an action step helps move the client forward, closing the gap between where they currently are and where they want to be. A typical coaching conversation might end like this:
  • What action would you like to take? And when will these actions be completed?
  • What do you want to report back to me at our next coaching session?
  • What will bring you closer to your goal? Who can help you with this?
  • What will you need to be able to focus on this next week?
  • What will get in the way?

In subsequent coaching sessions, follow up by asking questions such as:
  • What did you accomplish?
  • What didn’t you accomplish that you said you would?
  • What are the loose ends?
  • What got in the way?
  • What’s next?


This is a model I frequently use with cohort groups that are working toward mutually agreed upon outcomes. It emphasizes building trust and community among participants, forces people to reflect on their result, and chart a path forward.  It may also be used with individuals or when guiding project teams and task forces. The model works best when you have 45- 60-minute sessions and participants come prepared respond some of the questions. Coaches typically ask just one or two questions from each step. Listed below are the steps and sample questions.  

  • How are you doing? How is it with your soul?
  • What's new since we last spoke?
  • What have you been practicing? Learning? Reading?
  • What's come up that we need to discuss during this session?
  • What faith practices have you been incorporating into your life recently?
  • When have you experienced Sabbath moments this past month?

  • What progress have you made on your goals since last month?
  • What obstacles have you been facing, or are you currently facing?
  • What were the contributing factors that led to your successes? Your challenges?

  • What have you been learning about yourself? Others?
  • What seems to be working? What's not working?
  • What might you do differently in the future?
  • What skills or resources were lacking? How might you address this in the future?
  • What might you do to increase your effectiveness and influence in the future?
  • On a scale of 1-10 (10= very willing), how willing are you to make these changes?
  • Are you modeling the change you desire for others?

  • What are your goals/next steps for the next 30 days?
  • What would you like to be celebrating a month from now?
  • What are the possible ways to get there?
  • How will you select your course of action?
  • What will you do (who, what, where, when, how)?
  • How will you measure your progress?
  • Where do you anticipate you might get stuck or experience resistance?
  • What will you do in the next 48-72 hours?
  • What's next in our coaching relationship?

  • What did we accomplish today?
  • What did each of us commit to between now and our next meeting?
  • What was the most helpful portion of the meeting for you? What was least helpful?
  • How might we better utilize our time together in the future?
  • Are there any people or concerns that you’d like me to keep in my prayers?
  • When is our next meeting?


What's the "finish line?"
Who's along for the journey?
What is our current reality?
What are the obstacles?
What route will we take?
What haven't we considered/
What might be your next step?
Who can help?

This model was mentioned briefly in an earlier chapter. You’ll find a more detailed version of the model below. It provides a useful structure for coaches to help clients move forward in tangible ways in whatever area of their life -- work, relationships, personal growth -- in which they wish to move forward. Developed by John Whitmore, author of Coaching for Performance: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership, he identifies four focus areas for moving forward in a positive direction. GROW serves as an acronym for Goal, Reality, Options and Will.

GOAL  |  Where are we headed?
  • How can I be most helpful to you today?
  • What do you need to get the most out of this conversation?
  • What role do you need a listener or advisor to play?
  • What topic should we concentrate on during this session?
  • What is the one topic on which we could focus today that will have the most impact on moving you forward in a meaningful direction?
  • What are the issues that you face today?
  • What are the most important items that are holding you back, giving you grief, or sapping your energy?

REALITY  | Where are we starting from?
  • Tell me about your current situation. Describe it as honestly as you can, yet as objectively as possible. 
  • What are the difficulties that you face?
  • Name the obstacles and how each is impacting your attitude.
  • How are you resourcing yourself around this issue?
  • In what ways have you sought advice or expertise to work through this issue?
  • What is your biggest area of discomfort about this issue?
  • What is the one thing that is causing you the most stress and anxiety?
OPTIONS  |  How can we get there?
  • Tell me what you think may be some options for moving forward?
  • What else? Probe more deeply around all angles of the issue. What are you missing?
  • What other options might present themselves as you take on other perspectives?
  • If there were no obstacles (like money or people) what else would you consider?
  • If all options were possible, what would be the best path forward?
  • Is it possible to choose an option that you perceived as not an option?
  • If _______________ was in this same situation, what do you think ______________ would do?

WILL. |  What are you willing to do? What will it take to get there?
  • What do you need to do this? What specific things you will need to make it happen?
  • How will you prioritize your options? What needs to be done first? What can wait?
  • What one thing can you accomplish this week that will move you in the right direction?

CHAPTER  3  |  Student  Assignments



Review of Chapter Outcomes
  • To become familiar with common variants of the ongoing coaching agreement.
  • To discern which models may work best for the types of coaching conversations you regularly participate in.
  • To explore coaching models that still honor ICF's basic agreement.
  • To explore what the client needs from you, as a coach, to help them achieve their preferred future.