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5 Coaching Models Your Clients Will Love!

5 Coaching Models Your Clients Will Love!

Discover the benefits of incorporating a coaching model into your practice. Help your client set SMART goals and achieve greatness.


Have you ever been so engaged in a conversation that you lost track of time? 

As coaches, communication is our everything, but when we run 20 minutes past the end of our sessions, things start to get tricky. Hopefully, we have the foresight to schedule appointments with enough time in between, but how on Earth are we supposed to prepare for our next session?

Thankfully, there are coaching models to structure our sessions, so we rarely find ourselves in time crunches. Coaching structures help us quickly review our clients’ goals, check our notes, and identify clients’ progress. After establishing our coaching model, we’ll have a high-level plan of what to work on during upcoming sessions.

Coaching models help us stay on track, focus on our clients, and make progress. These models and structures help more individuals than just coaches. For decades, corporations have used business coaching models as part of their leadership development and executive coaching initiatives. As individual coaching becomes more popular, fitness, performance, career, and life coaching models adopt and adapt these business coaching tools.

But what exactly is a coaching model?

A coaching model is the structure around which we build our coaching programs. This coaching framework allows us to develop effective processes to help our clients set and meet goals through a system of steps. These steps help keep coachees moving forward until they reach their desired outcomes.

A coaching model is advantageous for our clients and us in various ways. Some benefits include:

  • Setting clear expectations for both you and your client on what to expect from your coaching program
  • Providing a purpose for your sessions by defining an outcome at the beginning.
  • Helping your client visualize their coaching journey
  • Bringing details into focus and providing insight into what motivates your client.
  • Giving you a tool to refocus your client when sessions go off-track
  • Building accountability into your sessions and giving you the means to measure progress and monitor performance
  • Maintaining consistency from session to session, keeping your clients in the flow instead of wondering what comes next
  • Making productive use of your energy by allowing you to build efficiencies into your practice to save time
  • Keeping your coaching sessions service-oriented and focused

So, are you ready to add a coaching model to your session toolkit?

Fantastic! We’ll cover the top five coaching models coaches use to improve their practices. 

5 coaching models to improve your practice

Whatever type of coaching you offer, each model is effective at helping you structure your sessions. These models have flexible frameworks, whether you’re coaching for performance or conducting leadership coaching. Don’t be afraid to customize these models to suit your coaching style and coaching approach. 

1. The GROW model

Created in the 1980s as a business coaching model by Sir John Whitmore and colleagues, GROW is the most popular and effective coaching model available. It’s a simple and straightforward system used by facilitators to set goals, develop problem-solving skills, and create a plan of action.

G - Goal: Your first step is to work with your client to establish their desired outcomes from the session and the coaching process. This goal should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely; in other words, a SMART goal.

R - Reality: Take time to examine your client’s current reality and establish their starting point. You and your client should identify obstacles that may hinder their journey.

O - Options: Let your client lead a brainstorming session to uncover and examine their options. From there, they’ll select one and use it to build an action plan to help them achieve their goals. At this point, you’re mentoring your client rather than coaching, but this is incredibly empowering. Your client will decide which option they want to pursue.

W - Will: Once you have an action plan, you must establish accountability, ensure your client has the will to achieve their goals, and help them commit to their plan of action.

To succeed, the GROW coaching model requires you to ask open-ended questions. Some of these can include:

  • How does this goal fit in with how you want to live your life?
  • What steps have you already taken toward your goal?
  • What could you accomplish if you weren’t worried about other people’s opinions?
  • How do you plan to keep yourself motivated?

2. The ACHIEVE model

The ACHIEVE coaching model is an expanded and slightly re-ordered version of the GROW model. This seven-step approach provides a more flexible and collaborative coaching experience. It uses open-ended questions and active listening skills to build trust and develop a successful process for your client.

A - Assess current situation: You need to understand your client’s current situation, where they are in life, and where they want to be. By asking your client to assess and describe their situation and circumstances, they’ll increase their self-awareness and give you valuable insight.  

C - Creatively brainstorm alternatives: Now that your client clearly understands their current state, they can brainstorm potential alternatives, explore how their life could change, and determine what changes they would like to make.

H - Hone goals: It’s time to refine what aspects of their life your client wants to change and make more goals. Use the SMART framework to decide on an attainable objective.

I - Initiate option generation: Once your client understands where they are and what they would like to change, it’s time to figure out how to bridge the gap and reach their desired outcomes. Brainstorm every potential option, even the most outlandish ones. (You’ll consider their viability later.)

E - Evaluate options: Once your client has identified all the possible actions they could take to meet their goals, it’s time to evaluate their options and determine which one they would like to pursue.

V - Valid action plan design: By now, your client should have a clear idea of their next steps. Bring this plan to life by planning sub-steps and actions toward achieving objectives.

E - Encourage momentum: This is the wrap-up phase of the ACHIEVE model. Even though your client has a plan, it may not be enough to guarantee your client’s success. It’s your job to follow up with your client to motivate, encourage, and hold them accountable.

Here are some coaching questions to ask when using this model:

  • What challenges are you currently facing?
  • If you could change anything about yourself, what would it be?
  • What resources do you need to succeed?
  • If you knew you couldn’t fail, what’s the first step you would take toward your goal?
  • Which choice feels right to you?
  • What first step do you need to take on your journey? What’s the second?
  • How does it feel to make progress?


3. The STEPPA model

Another popular coaching model is STEPPA, designed by Dr. Angus McLeod. The STEPPA model focuses on your client’s emotions and uses them to propel them toward their goals. You’ll act as a mentor as your client moves through the process, helping them learn to manage and understand their feelings to reach their objectives.

S - Subject: This is often the reason your client sought coaching services and is the catalyst for your coaching relationship. The subject sets expectations for your sessions and acts as your agenda, helping you refocus your client and maintain steady progress.

T - Target: This is STEPPA’s goal-setting phase. You need to work with your client to uncover what they want to achieve through the coaching process.

E - Emotions: Humans are emotional beings, and our feelings often fuel our decisions. As a coach, it’s your job to understand the feelings behind your client’s choices and teach them to identify and harness emotions to reach their goals.  

P - Perception: The next step is to broaden your client’s view of their goal. You want them to identify and understand the meaning, purpose, and importance of all their options. Your role is to help them see things from a different point of view before making their choice. 

P - Plan/Pace: Once your client has assessed their options and decided on how they want to work to achieve their goals and overcome obstacles, you’ll need to help them develop an action plan. This action plan should have steps to reach their goals and a timeline to complete tasks.

A - Action: Help your client to commit to taking necessary measures to reach their target. Use feedback strategies to keep your client motivated and accountable.

Some questions to help you navigate the STEPPA model include:

  • What is the most important thing in your life? Why?
  • How will you know this is the best way forward for you?
  • What else do you think could be motivating you toward your goal?
  • In a year from now, if you don’t reach your goal, how will you feel?
  • What will keep you motivated if you come across a roadblock?

4. The CLEAR model

The CLEAR coaching model is a five-step process used within multi-session programs. Executive professional development plans often use this model developed by Peter Hawkins. It produces lasting and fundamental change by transforming values, behaviors, and beliefs. 

C - Contract: Begin your session by discussing how you and your client will work together and what they would like to accomplish. Outline how they’ll know they’re making progress. You can revisit the contract if your client veers off-task or you find their objective evolving. This step is especially important for first sessions with new clients. 

L - Listen: Once you’ve established your agreement for the session, it’s time to deepen the conversation by asking questions. Ask about your client’s objectives and what they want to achieve in individual sessions. You need to actively listen and let your client discuss the subject honestly.

E - Explore: After thoroughly discussing the subject, key details will become clear to you and your client – it’s possible this is a new discovery for them. Start asking more in-depth, targeted questions. This will help your client understand their emotional connection to their current situation, what they want to change and why, and how they can connect with their objective. Plus, it helps your client develop their emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

A - Action: Ask questions to help your client develop a plan of action. Explore how they feel about their options, and encourage them to commit to a transformational program. Your questions shouldn’t sway your client toward one option over another, nor should they suggest a course of action.

R - Review: This stage lets you incorporate feedback into your session. You’ll need to reflect on the key takeaways from your conversation, whether your client reached their weekly goals, and explore the progress made. 

The CLEAR model relies heavily on open-ended questions, so you need to develop a catalog of queries to generate deep insight for your client. Here are a few:  

  • How will you know if you’ve had a good session today?
  • As your coach, what can I do to help you this week?
  • What’s the first step you want to take?
  • What would you like to achieve by the end of this session?
  • How does your mindset impact your ability to reach your goal?

5. The OSKAR model

If you’re looking for a solutions-based coaching model focusing on behavior rather than action, look no further than the OSKAR coaching model. Its simple and easy-to-use framework works particularly well in a professional setting. Like other models, OSKAR helps clients bridge the gap between their current situation and their desired future.

O - Outcome: This stage determines the purpose of your session. You want to encourage your client to demonstrate a clear understanding of their objective.

S - Scaling: Use a simple 1–10 scale to help your client refine their desired outcome into a reasonable goal. For example, you can ask your client how close they’re to their objective on a scale of 1–10. And follow up by asking where on the scale they want to be by the end of the session.

K - Know-how: Help your client evaluate what resources and skills they need to reach their goal. This process helps them understand their current competencies and which skills they need to acquire. This is a great starting point to begin planning the steps they need to take to reach their objective.

A - Affirm/Action: Your fourth step is helping your client analyze their current state and what they can do to improve their situation. They should reflect on aspects that are working well for them and areas they wish to improve.

R - Review: The final phase of the OSKAR model usually takes place at your next session. It gives your client space to review their actions between sessions and keeps them accountable for their progress. Offer feedback and encouragement.

Here are some questions to generate deeper insight into your client’s state of mind for each step of the OSKAR process. 

  • As you progress toward your goal, how do you feel? 
  • How would you compare yourself to others in your situation?
  • Who can you turn to for support while you work toward your goal?
  • What aspects of your life do you want to stay the same, even after you reach your goal?
  • What things have you done differently since our last session?

NOTE: Some professional coaches change the focus of the Know-how stage to Choices and Consequences. The adjustment encourages clients to evaluate different courses of action and increase their awareness of the different outcomes of each choice. This changes the acronym to the OSCAR coaching model. It’s easy to adapt and alter coaching structures and models to benefit our clients.

What’s the best coaching model?

Deciding which is the best coaching model to use depends entirely on our practice, coaching skills, preferences, and, most of all, our clients’ needs. Each model has its strengths and weaknesses, so our best bet is to experiment to find out which works best. And remember, the coaching model we settle on may not work for every client, so it’s best to familiarize ourselves with alternatives.

Do you need help incorporating your new coaching model into your existing program? Try Practice to help with CRM support, calendar tools, and coaching contract templates. Get everything you need to elevate your business from good to great!

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