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With organizations moving away from traditional classroom based training and laying increasing importance on other forms of Learning & Development to grow their people, Coaching is increasingly getting preference.

A CIPD survey shows that almost 96% of respondents believe that they would require advice and support if they were to take on even more responsibility for their own learning (Parsloe & Rolph, 2004).


In his book Coaching for Performance (June 2004), John Whitmore defines coaching as: “unlocking a person’s potential to maximize his/her own performance”. Thus, it is clear that coaching is all about a process of helping somebody else to unlock his/her own latent potential to the maximum level.

In this process, the focus is on enhancing performance and developing the skills using several frameworks and models of coaching available, but, the basic core process continues to be an interactive one with the primary objective of increasing the psychological capital of the individual. It may be noted that the key to “unlocking” an individual’s hidden potential is to help him or her get in touch with the four aspects of his psychological capital namely, Self Efficacy, Hope, Optimism and Resilience.

Eric Parsloe in the book Manager as Coach and Mentor (1999, page 8) defines coaching as “a process that enables learning and development to occur and thus performance to improve. To be a successful Coach requires a knowledge and understanding of process as well as the variety of styles, skills and techniques that are appropriate to the context in which the coaching takes place.”

Another definition of coaching is given by Jessica Jarvis, in the book The Case for Coaching (CIPD, 2006) –

Developing a person’s skill and knowledge so that their job performance improves, hopefully leading to achievement of organizational objectives. It targets high performance and improvement at work, although it may have an impact on an individual’s private life. It usually lasts for a short period and focuses on specific skills and goals.

What’s common in all the three definitions is the process of deploying a procedure of enhancing the inherent capability and capacity of the person. This inherent capability and capacity of the person manifests as the worth of his/her psychological capital as in its four components explained below.

Self-efficacy refers to “one’s confidence in his or her ability to mobilize the motivation, cognitive resources, and courses of action necessary to execute a specific course of action within a given context” (Luthans & Youssef, 2004, p.153).

Hope refers to “a positive motivational state that is based on an interactively derivedsense of successful (1) agency (goal-directed energy) [willpower] and (2) path-ways (planning to meet goals) [waypower]” (Luthans & Youssef, 2007, p.330).

Optimism refers to “a positive explanatory style that attributes positive events to internal, permanent, and pervasive causes, and negative events to external, temporary and situation-specific ones” (Luthans & Youssef, 2004, p. 153).

Resilience is “the capacity to… bounce back from adversity, conflict, failure, or even positive events, progress, and increased responsibility” (Luthans & Youssef, 2007, p. 332).

Models of Coaching

It is worth a debate whether the several available models of Coaching are the only vehicles to arrive at the optimal destination of unlocking human potential. However, though the models and frameworks does not tell us how to do Coaching but at least offers a framework and boundaries of what to do within those boundaries. Thus, for a coach, what matters is Proficiency. One may know ‘what to do’ but may require lots of practice on ‘how to do’ to acquire high levels of proficiency as an effective coach.

The value of different models lies in each of them offering solutions for uniquely challenging situations. Effective coaching is integrative of many domains of knowledge and hence, no one model universally fits all kinds of coaching situations. Any coach with process proficiency and knowledge of multiple models of coaching is better equipped to be an effective coach for a wide array of clients and situations.

One of the popular models of Coaching is the GROW Model.

The GROW model of coaching was developed by John Whitmore in the 80’s and have been further worked upon by Alan Fine and Graham Alexander. In this model, the Coach facilitates an interactive discussion with the Client and through the discussion helps the client to get into a curious and self-explorative mode. The interactive discussion is primarily led by the Coach through open questions to the client to put the client in to deeper levels of self-exploration. When in the deep exploratory mode, the client is able to clearly see his/her needs, goals and prioritize the action that he/she is willing to take.

The GROW is an acronym of:

Goal – What is it that the client wants to achieve?

Reality – What are the current realities which may support or hinder the client’s movement towards the Goal.

Options – Is there only one way to do it or there are options to choose and prioritize?

Willingness – Does the client really have the desire to chase the above goals or it’s merely a wish?

GROW Model is independent of Expertise. It says that the Coach following the GROW model need not be a subject matter expert and the effectiveness of unlocking the client’s potential is achieved by ability to ask open ended questions in the right context of the stage at which the coaching is. Proficiency lies in facilitating through mastering the art of open-ended questioning and being aware of the stages of the GROW model.

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