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GROW your coaching skills

By Nancy Hegland

During this past year, I have watched my three kids being coached by adults in a variety of settings. Whether it was sports, music or showing livestock, these coaches invested their knowledge in my children’s growth and development. This summer, I’m paying more attention to my children’s coaching than most mothers do because I’ve recently taken a course called Coaching for Excellence.

Each coaching situation is unique. As a supervisor of youth development professionals, I know that sometimes coaching is appreciated and welcomed, but other times may be interpreted as criticism. Although we often think of coaching as the process to resolve performance concerns, it’s so much more than that – it’s an ongoing investment in the growth and development of others. We all need coaches who are willing to help us enhance our performance.

As a student of coaching, I’ve learned more about the role, characteristics and core skills of a coach. I’ve begun to use the GROW model for setting and reaching goals with the people I coach. It has provided a great start to enhance my coaching skills. The GROW Model is easy to use and provides a powerful framework for structuring coaching or mentoring conversations.  Many professional coaching practices incorporate this model for its constructive and efficient structure. It relies on a relationship of trust and mutual respect to work.

GROW is an acronym for:
  • Goal: Agreeing on a goal for the coaching conversation, making it specific and as SMART as possible,
  • Reality: Help the individual tell their story and explore the current situation, history, and future trends.
  • Options: Brainstorm as many new ideas that will help reach the goals established.
  • Wrap-up: Deciding on what’s going to be done to reach the goal, agreeing on time frames, resources and making the commitment.

John Whitmore’s book, Coaching for Performance - growing human potential and purpose - the principles and practice of coaching and leadership, is an excellent resource as you start to use the GROW Model in coaching conversations. Use it in your work with others, but a great way to practice using it is to address your own challenges and limitations.  As you explore ways to use it, you’ll develop questions to enhance your own performance and how to use the model in coaching conversations. Asking good questions and listening effectively are essential skills for a coach. Active listening forces you to reflect on what was said and then repeat it back to ensure understanding.

Coaching provides opportunities to empower others to exceed their prior levels of performance and give guidance, encouragement and support to the learner. We may need different types of coaches for different aspects of our work, depending on their skills and talents. I know my kids have benefited from many coaches in their young lives and challenge you to find a coach to help you grow in your role.

-- Nancy Hegland, Extension program leader

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  1. Thank you, Nancy for this post! Great ideas to implement!

  2. Thanks Nicole! Have you utilized the GROW Model? What types of coaches are helpful for you in your role? Nancy


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