The words of a classic… coaching for performance


It’s impossible to work in the coaching industry without coming across John Whitmore’s book, Coaching for performance (Ed. Nicholas Brealey).

Very well organized in 19 chapters, the book starts with a presentation of coaching, then the author explores with us separate elements such as the nature of change, the nature of coaching or effective questions, before going onto a proposed coaching model called GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will, When, What). GROW is actually a sequence of questioning, and the author supports this by presenting sample questions at the end of the book. Keeping things within the big picture, the author links this acronym to other existing models such as SMART, PURE and CLEAR. And yes, all combined together they give us our famous NLP well-stated outcomes.

From this GROW model the author moves further exploring performance and motivation, as well as feedback. We are left with another set of acronym, SEE, HEAR, GROW emphasizing on the importance of awareness and responsibility.

It seems, John Whitmore best-selling handbook was simply the first book to explain so simply concept behind coaching, and the fact that coaching is about developing awareness and responsibility versus traditional training or development method.

The GROW model is very clear. It’s interesting to see how the author initially included time and practicality in his model under W, with W standing in for Will, When, What. Later on, only Will remains in literature, and later again, GROW evolved into GROWTH, to include Time-scale and How (the previously When and What).

I thank you again readers to ask for this review!

Reading this book for the second time, I was delighted to find items jumping back at me that I had overseen lately, especially remembering to avoid the HOW question. We all know about the WHY questions, what about the HOW…

Indeed HOW when unspecified tends to lead people into the analytical or thinking rather than the realm of awareness and observation.  Another neat trick is to take the time to define with clients awareness; yes we tame the word with the client. Awareness is just about the observation, and we really want to differentiate it from understanding and analysis. Instead of being aware, I see people jumping to conclusions… They are not aware… they are hallucinating. You’re right, we review exactly that within the NLP practitioner training, when we learn about sensory acuity and when we practice the difference between sensory acuity and hallucinations. Remember, be aware of what’s happening, focus on what you want to see, the analytical will happen by itself if it brings any value to your journey. Keep things simple!

You may want to read that book at once, or you may want to keep it as a reference, or you may decide to do both. Whatever your preferred options, a good read, and a must read for coaches.