The GROW Model was developed in the 1980s by three collaborators: Alan Fine, Graham Alexander, and Sir John Whitmore. Over the last 30 years, the model has become one of the world’s most recognized and influential coaching models. Today, it is considered by coaches worldwide to be the gold-standard framework for structuring coaching conversations.
The basic GROW Model is an acronym for the four components of any decision-making process: Goal, Reality, Options, and Way Forward.
Goal: what increased performance looks like
Reality: barriers and supports that could impact achievement of the goal
Options: all the possibilities available to the decision-maker
Way Forward: the specific action plan selected from available options
All action stems from decisions. Using the GROW Model, a coach helps a performer organize their thinking around these components and learn to make decisions in a logical, productive formula which has proven to lead to better actions and results. It also increases ownership of the results.
Drivers of Performance
Within the GROW Model lies the Performance Wheel. The Performance Wheel is the driver of the GROW Model—the wheel that keeps performers moving through the decision-making process.
The performance wheel is comprised of the four key elements of performance: Knowledge, Faith, Fire, and Focus.
Knowledge represents the rim of the wheel. It’s an important element of performance. The rim of the wheel must be complete for the wheel to move forward. Faith, Fire, and Focus are the gears that keep the performance wheel moving. When one is out of place, none of the elements move effectively.
The lever of the entire performance wheel is Focus. Focus naturally drives everything we do. We can’t affect the existence or magnitude of our focus. But we can affect where we place our focus—what we choose to focus on. Knowledge, Faith, and Fire may change over time, but Focus is an immediate driver of our performance.
Simon Sinek’s Golden Circle model explains why performers who focus on the big picture—what Sinek calls “the why”—are able to achieve beyond those who are just as smart and hard-working. He uses the terms “what,” “how,” and “why.” By focusing on the “why,” people can improve their performance.
“This whole concept of WHY is grounded in the tenets of biology of human decision-making. [The Golden Circle] maps perfectly with how our brain works. The outer section—the WHAT—corresponds to the outer section of the brain—the neocortex. This is the part of the brain responsible for rational and analytical thought. It helps us understand facts and figures, features and benefits…The WHY and the HOW correspond to the middle section of the brain, the limbic system. This is the part of the brain responsible for all our behavior and decision-making.”
In Sinek’s model, Knowledge becomes “the what,” Faith, Fire, and Focus become the “how” and “why.” We best influence behavior and decision-making by impacting the limbic system through our Faith, Fire, and Focus.
Focus is considered the lever of the performance wheel because it combats interference. Interference is anything that gets in the way of higher performance. As Tim Gallwey, creator of the Inner Game Model, said, “There are many ways of allowing your thinking to get in the way of your performance and learning, but they all amount to conversations you are having with yourself within your own head.”
We can’t eliminate interference, but we can overcome it by using the GROW Model to choose to focus on the things that progress us closer to our goal.
The GROW Model and Performance Wheel were synthesized from years of practical experience from world-renowned coaches looking to drive performance in any field. These techniques, formulated in the sports arena, could be adapted into the corporate world because the elements apply to human nature.
These tools (the GROW Model and Performance Wheel) help people think through decisions more efficiently so they can make better, faster decisions. Good decisions lead to effective actions which lead to productive results. This is called “Decision Velocity”—the speed and accuracy of decisions that drive individual and organizational performance.
Learn more about each element of The GROW Model and Performance Wheel: