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Our Approach

It has been argued that organisations are networks of people relating to each other via conversations to achieve common purposes and goals (Cross & Parker, 2004; Jackson & McKergow,2007). Such a complex adaptive systems view of organisations highlights the importance of conversational quality.

Indeed it has been said that…“Conversation is the fundamental unit of change. If you change the conversation, then there’s every chance you’ll change everything that surrounds it.” (Jackson & Waldman, 2011).

Others (Groysberg & Slind, 2012; Amabile & Kramer, 2011; Dutton, 2003) have made similar arguments for the importance of conversational quality as a factor profoundly impacting organisational effectiveness.

It is in this context that our broader purpose is seen as improving the quality of conversations in school communities – leaders with teachers; teachers with teachers; leaders and teachers with parents; and everyone with students – so that principals lead well; teachers teach well, parents contribute well and students learn well.

We believe that coaching provides a vehicle to achieve this.

Some additional aspects of the Growth Coaching approach…

Our approach is based around three core 'pillars' that provide a solid platform for good coaching. These three pillars are:

  • A framework for the coaching conversation - the GROWTH model
  • Core micro communication skills
  • Way of Being - the personal presence that the coach brings to the coaching conversation

GROWTH model

This model provides a scaffold on which coaching conversations can be based. While not intended to be an inflexible formula, it does provide a helpful structure that enables the coaching conversation to progress toward clear actions and outcomes.

The model is an extended version of the widely used GROW model popularised by John Whitmore (2002). Research by Gollwitzer (1999) around ‘Implementation Intentions’ supported the value of emphasising the ‘Tactics’ and ‘Habits’ steps in goal attainment, and these steps have been incorporated into the Growth Coaching model.

Micro communication skills

A second core component of GROWTH COACHING coach training is based around the micro communication skills of:

  • Listening
  • Being present
  • Empathising
  • Being succinct
  • Clarifying
  • Questioning
  • Giving feedback

Way of Being

The Way of Being describes a series of attributes which a coach must possess in order to create safe, trusting and positive environments in which coaching can take place (van Nieuwerburgh, 2014). Arguably, the way of being of a coach is the single most important pillar that underpins effective coaching practice.

Positive Based Approach

Underpinning the GROWTH model is a theoretical perspective that draws from recent thinking and research in the related fields of Positive Psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, Solution Focused theories and Strengths Based approaches. This confluence of positive based theories emerging in the last 10-20 years provides a strong evidence base for the approach that Growth Coaching coaches draw upon.

Evidence Based

We also place value on providing evidence based coaching. We adopt the definition of evidence based coaching as described by Stober and Grant (2006, p6) as the “...intelligent and conscientious use of best current knowledge integrated with practitioner expertise in making decisions about how to deliver coaching to individual coaching clients and designing and teaching coach training programmes.”


  • Amabile T. & Kramer, S. (2011) The progress principle: Using Small wins to ignite joy, engagement and creativity at work. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Biwas-Diener, R. (2010) Practicing positive psychology coaching: Assessment, activities and strategies for success. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley and Sons
  • Cross.R. & Parker, A. (2004) The hidden power of social networks: How work really gets done in organisations. Boston: HBR Press.
  • Dutton, J.E. (2003) Energize your workplace: How to create and sustain high-quality connections at work. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.
  • Goleman,D. (1995) Emotional Intelligence: Why it can matter more than IQ. New York: Bantam Books.
  • Golwitzer, P.M. (1999) Implementation intentions: Simple effects of simple plans. American Psychologist 54:7. 493-503.
  • Groysberg, B. & Slind,M.(2012) Talk Inc: How trusted leaders use conversation to power their organisations. Boston: Harvard Business Review Press.
  • Jackson ,P. & McKergow, M.(2007) (2nd Ed.) The solutions focus: Making chance SIMPLE. London: Nicholas Brealey.
  • Jackson, P. & Waldman,J.(2011) Positively speaking: The art of constructive conversations with a solutions focus. St Albans: Solutions Books.
  • Stober, D.R. & Grant, A.M. (2006) Evidence based coaching handbook: Putting best practices to work for your clients. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons Inc; US.
  • Whitmore, J. (2002) Coaching for performance: growing people, performance and purpose. London: Nicholas Brealey.

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