Coaching questions

What specific questions can I use in a coaching conversation?

The benefit of the GROW model (developed by John Whitmore) is that the ownership for change and action is placed in the hands of the person being coached.

When planning a session, remember that the actual questions you use will depend on the responses you hear back from the coachee. If you simply work through the questions below the session will feel like an interrogation. The questions that you use and their pacing reveal what you have heard in an individual’s story.


  • What is it you would like to discuss?
  • What would you like to achieve by the end of this coaching session?
  • In the long term, what is your goal related to this issue? What is the time-frame?
  • What will success in this matter look like?
  • How will you know that you have achieved what you want to achieve?


  • What is the present situation in more detail?
  • What is happening at the moment?
  • What and how great is your concern about this?
  • Who is affected by this issue other than you?
  • How much control do you personally have over the outcome?
  • Who else has some control over it and how much?
  • What action steps have you taken on it so far?
  • What stopped you from doing more?
  • What obstacles will need to be overcome on the way?


  • What are all the different ways in which you could approach this issue?
  • Make a list of all the alternatives, large or small, complete or partial solutions.
  • What else could you do?
  • What would you do if you had more time, a larger budget, or if you were in charge?
  • What would you do if you could start again, with a new team?
  • What are the advantages and disadvantages of each of these options in turn?
  • Which would give the best result?
  • Which of these solutions appeals to you most, or feels best to you?
  • Which would give you the most satisfaction?


  • Which option(s) are you going to choose?
  • When precisely are you going to start and finish each action step?
  • What could arise to stop you in taking these steps or meeting the goal?
  • What personal resistance do you have, if any, to taking these steps?
  • What will you do to eliminate these external and internal factors?
  • Who needs to know what your plans are?
  • What support do you need and from whom?
  • What will you do to obtain that support and when?
  • What could I do to support you?
  • What commitment on a 1 – 10 scale do you have to taking these agreed actions?
  • What prevents this from being a 10?
  • What could you do or alter to raise your commitment closer to 10?
  • Clarify again what immediate steps are you going to take?
  • How and when can you do this?

Theory to Practise: Finding your own ‘coaching voice’

When you are using the GROW Coaching Model successfully, you feel like you are having a natural conversation rather than walking through a checklist of questions. The important thing is to feel comfortable. The more comfortable and confident you are the more productive and successful your coaching conversation will be.

Here is how some of the coaches we have worked with described the process of finding their own style:

“When I can find an opportunity (either in a coaching conversation, or informally) to try dropping into conversation one of the less familiar questions.”

“When I follow the general flow of the GROW model, and use it is as a framework rather than a constraint.”

“When I reflect on how effectively I have used the GROW model and what I can do better next time. Where did I rush the coachee? How well did I start and end the coaching session?”