Leaders sometimes struggle with how to effectively coach the members of their team. Whether coaching a performance challenge or a career discussion, utilizing the GROW model can be a simple yet effective way to help the people on your team grow and improve.

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Perry Holley:

Welcome to the Maxwell Leadership executive podcast, where our goal is to help you increase your reputation as a leader, increase your ability to influence others, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to deliver remarkable results.

Hi. I’m Perry Holley, a Maxwell Leadership facilitator and coach.

Chris Goede:

And I’m Chris Goede, Executive Vice President with Maxwell Leadership. Welcome. And thank you for joining.

As we get started, if you will visit maxwellleadership.com/podcast, there you can download the learners guide for today’s lesson. If you want to read the blog that we have on the site, or even if you just want to leave us a question or a comment about a future episode, we would love to hear that from you.

Well, today’s topic is how leaders can GROW all capital letters, GROW their people. And I see here that you have the word grow as an acronym. What’s going on here, Perry. Fill us in.

Perry Holley:

Well, I felt a little bit at risk bringing something which some people might think is very elementary to a sophisticated blog podcast like this one.

Chris Goede:

That’s right.

Perry Holley:

But actually, my experience tells me maybe I don’t think so. I have brought this up on many a coaching call recently when the leader was struggling with how to get actively engaged in coaching. They want to be more of a coaching leader. “How do I coach more with my team?” And they don’t know where to start.

I said, have you considered this model that is called the GROW model? And I was stunned. I’m watching them. We’re on Zoom a lot of times. And they’re taking notes and asking for clarification and questions and I go, “Hmm. Maybe it’ll be a review for many, but it might be new for some.”

Chris Goede:


Perry Holley:

And I find it to be simple enough-

Chris Goede:


Perry Holley:

… that it’s usable.

Chris Goede:

That what I was just thinking about. I was thinking about it not being too complicated. And as I was just sharing before we went live in the studio, the fact that, when I saw the content come across, I was like, “Oh, man. I remember that from years ago, but I haven’t talked about it in a while.” So, I’m looking forward to us diving in and going through this.

Perry Holley:

Well, you do it well. I’ve been working with you for quite a while. And I see you with your team and how you operate with this. But I really would like your real world experience on how to apply some of this. But we do complicate the coaching process, sometimes. I’ve had people tell me that they don’t coach people like they should because, “Well, I don’t have a quiet office, a white board, a spreadsheet, and all the stuff.” You don’t need all that.

And I think we should describe the GROW model and how it works. And then, maybe you could tell me how we can apply that.

Chris Goede:

Let’s do it.

Perry Holley:

What you probably should be thinking about is, how do you apply when you’re coaching people? Is there a problem? Is there a behavior or a performance problem, something you could be coaching to. Or you could be thinking about a career progression or helping someone understand the next steps in their progression through their career. It could be a number of maybe even process-oriented things you want to coach to in the organization.

But the G stands for Goal. And we need to determine right off the bat, what are we aiming for? What is this person, whether it’s a performance improvement, what is the performance we’re looking for? What is the career? What is the next step? But what is the overall goal, is how we start that off?

Chris Goede:

Yeah. Although this is simple, why I love this is, Perry’s bringing to us something that’s very applicable when it comes to increasing your influence with people at Level Two, where you’re connecting with them. But also at Level Four. And at level four, we talk about this in the five levels of leadership, of developing people. And when you do that, you increase your influence with them.

And for us, I think the biggest thing that kind of pains us is that we see in organizations, the cultures, around the world, there’s a lid at Level Three. Level One is, you lead people because of the title that you’ve been given. Level Two is because you’ve connected with them. Level Three is because you’re producing. But then, when there’s just a lid there, and there’s this vacant area of what we call the leadership bench of developing people inside their organization. This is a very simple but great tool for you to use as you connect with them. And then, as you think about, how do I go about developing them?

Now, coming back to Goal. You mentioned this just a minute ago, where if this is a behavior or a performance problem, we’re going after behavioral change, is what we’re looking for, there. And what is the desired behavior in this goal?

The other one was, you mentioned about it, is just a career discussion. And the goal may be, what is next? What do you want to do with your career? What’s next for you in the organization, or even outside the organization, by the way. It’s okay to be doing this and developing them and setting up goals, even if it is not to stay inside your organization.

I think one of the things for me when I think about goal, and I think about having conversations with people, is that, if it’s within the organization and it’s a behavior or performance that we’re looking at, and it’s a behavioral change that, I want to get really clear around what the goal is, as simple and as clear as possible. Will there be uncertainty?Absolutely. There’ll be uncertainty about how we’re going to go about getting it. What does that look like? What are the problems? There’s going to be a lot of uncertainty. But man, if we’re really clear and try to get the goal as simple as possible, I think that does a great deal for, not only the leader, but also the individual about what you’re talking to, there.

And then my last thing is, is that I always try to talk about the goal in terms of how that plays a huge part in the department, and in the enterprise. So, when we go after this goal, this is how it’s going to affect the department and the team. By the way, this is how it’s going to affect the enterprise. And you got to help tie that together. So, those are two areas when you mention that, that just come to mind in thinking about the goal.

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Perry Holley:

Both of those is that, one, most people I don’t think have a goal. They’re just trying to get through the day or the week or get to the target, get to the quota, whatever. They don’t really have a bigger G-goal. But the last piece you add is really strong about tying that goal to the overall, “Why am I relevant? Why am I even here?”

Chris Goede:


Perry Holley:

“You just increased my value to the organization, because now I see why I’m why I’m here, to do that.”

Chris Goede:

Keep it simple, but have that conversation.


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Perry Holley:

So, the R stands for Reality. This is taking a snapshot of where are you now in respect to this goal? What’s our starting point? I have a friend that he said, it’s unfortunate that the GROW makes such a great acronym, and you can say call it the GROW model, because it really should be RGOW, because you should start with reality first, and then go for goal. But for the sake of keeping the model together, reality. I think this can be a tough one for leaders to get to.

Chris Goede:

Yeah. And to the comment you just made that a friend of your said, I think the number one thing a leader is responsible for is defining reality. That’s where we have to start. And many people, I think, struggle with this, especially if it’s in the performance area where you think, “Man, I’m killing it. I’m performing better than…” And then, we start comparing ourselves. And that is not a model that we need to have as leaders or as people or individual contributors when it comes to performance.

When it comes to the career, I think that many of us think we’re further along in our career than we really are, and that we have arrived. And I think that there’s a struggle there. And so, we’ve got to define reality, not only if we’re looking at this for ourselves, but also for those that we are coaching. And we’ve got to help them understand that.

I spend more time here, around the reality, than I do on the G, the goal, because there’s usually a gap. And we’ve talked about this on a previous episode. I think it’s our responsibility as a leader to help our team understand the size of that gap. And it’ll be different for each one of your team members. But we’ve got to help them understand that there is a difference between what’s really going on and what the expectations are, if that’s our goal. And we define reality for doing that.

The other thing is, when I go through this and I define reality, as a leader in this model, I don’t make statements about it. I ask questions. Now, listen. You coach very high-level executives. And then, you coach also individual contributors on teams. And I know that, as a coach, this is something that you work really hard at doing, which is, if I can ask them enough questions to get them to define their own reality and to see the gap, then it’s much more powerful than it is me just making a statement to say, “This is reality. This is a massive gap. Now, you better go figure out how you’re going to accomplish your goals.” It’s just received completely different.

Perry Holley:

Oh, completely. And then, all of a sudden, you become the problem. They look at you as causing that. No. Leaders will ask me, they say, “Well, what should I coach?” I say, “Coach to the gap.” They say, “What do you mean by that?” I say, “Well, this is why the first two steps of this GROW model are so important.” If I don’t know where I’m heading and I don’t know where I’m starting, then the gap is not going to be that obvious.

So, like you said, you spend more time on reality. People struggle for some reason thinking they’re better than they are, doing more than they should. I don’t think there’s a great understanding sometimes of reality. It’s a great gift you can give someone to paint a picture of a goal, performance, or career, or process, whatever we’re working on, and then help them understand, “Well, this is where I see you.” Give an honest appraisal of where they are, so that all of a sudden a gap appears. You’re here and you want to get there. That’s the gap.

Now, let’s talk about, how do we do that? That brings us to the O in the G-R-O-W model. And the O stands for Options. What could we do in order to close this gap or to bridge this gap, to get across this gap that we’ve identified now in the first part of our conversation? What are some options?

Chris Goede:

Yeah. When you get to this, in the O of it, with options, I love this part. Because I love options. Matter of fact, I tell my team all the time that I do much better, again, Perry and I talked in our last episode about even just creativity and how we’re different in that. For me, I want to be able to react off of a couple of options and build off of that, then if you just bring me one option of what this looks like. So, as we think about this, as we go from the G, the R, to the O, is that I think we can create and present and, through questions, we can come up with some ideas.

One of the things I do here, when I talk about this, is that I believe our coaching model is built off of something very simple. I call it the 3 A’s, which is ask the tough questions, help them develop an action plan, moving forward, and then holding them accountable to doing that. And I think that, when you do that, you’ll be able to stir up and have conversations around these ideas and options.

But one of the things I do, is that I challenge them to look at other individuals that are doing what they want to do. So, whatever that goal is, and they say, “Hey, I know that Perry has achieved that goal. And I know that’s something that he has accomplished.” I’ll say, “Hey, well, what is it that you see about what Perry’s doing?” And I asked the question. And then I say, “Well, do you think if he was doing this, that may help you? Is that an option?” “Oh. It might be.”

And you ask an informal question. But you also then get them to look out. Again, they don’t know what they don’t know. And so, you get them to do a comparative analysis on maybe some other people that are achieving similar goals that they would want to do. It’s just one way for you to do that.

And then, what I love is that, if you begin to have those conversations and you leave them with these options, and you’re asking these questions, then that just opens the door right into your next coaching conversation with them of being able to hold them accountable to your last conversation.

Perry Holley:

And I love that. And the big thing I learned about the O part, about options, was it needs to be, as much as possible, their idea. They come up with the options. Again, if you come up with an option and it doesn’t work, then you’re to blame.

So, getting them to commit for that leads us to the W, the final step of the GROW model. And that is, some say, the Way forward, or What will you do. Really trying to get them to pick one. You don’t want to leave somebody with four options. What are we going to work on? And I think that really sets you up for those follow ones, and accountability. [inaudible 00:14:06].

Chris Goede:

Yeah. That’s a good point. So for me, you got to have clarity around the goal. And then, you got to have clarity around reality. And then, you got to have clarity around what the options are. And then guess what? You got to have clarity around the way forward. It’s the only way to your point where I mentioned the kind of 3 A’s about that accountability partner.

You should never have a conversation with somebody through this process and then leave it open ended. You should always say, “Hey, listen. So, what are your next steps?”

It’s one of the things I love about, you and I are part of our team, and we run our L10 meetings on Monday through an EOS system. It’s a format that we use, and we absolutely love it. But one of the things is, we get real specific in there and we say, “Okay. So, it that’s our goal. This is where we’re at right now. And these are our options. Like what’s the next step in order to continue our way forward.”

And then, we get real specific and we’re really clear, and we lay that out. And then, we come back and then report that the next one. So I would just say, as I kind of wrap up and think about our conversation today, again, another very simple model.

Perry and I talk often about the fact that we love John Maxwell’s leadership content. And we love being able to help people. But the only way we’re sitting here is because it’s simple. Now, it’s not easy, and it’s not easy to implement, but it’s simple. And so, today’s model, as we think about the gaps that we see with leaders connecting with their people Level Two. And the gaps we see in organizations of not having a leadership bench, because leaders don’t know how to develop their people, this right here, this simple G-R-O-W method allows you to do that.

Perry Holley:

Yeah. And I’ve heard Andy Stanley say that, “If it’s memorable, if it’s small, if it’s easy, it’s portable, then you can carry it with people.” That’s why he’s so good at making those phrasing things, so that you take it with you.

So, thank you very much, Chris. Thanks for the insights. And thank you all. If you want to hear again about our offerings. If you want to learn more, you want to see the learner guide, learn more about what we do, if you want to leave a question or a comment, you can do all that at maxwellleadership.com/podcast. And we’d love for you to leave a question or comment there. We always love hearing from you. And we’re always grateful that you would spend this time with us each week. That’s all today from the Maxwell Leadership executive podcast.

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