A Coaching Model By Sergey Nagin, Leadership Coach, SERBIA
CLEAR – Contracting, Listening, Exploring, Action & Review/Reflecting
Clear (adjective) is defined as free from darkness, obscurity, or cloudiness; light: transparent; pellucid:
My corporate experience includes managing people and I have put a lot of effort into building effective vertical and horizontal communications in a large company. From this experience, I realized that the greatest efficiency can only be achieved by building extremely simple and open communications, and the greatest harm is caused by situations where some problem was known, but due to lack of communications it was not brought to the top level management and no timely action was taken to eliminate it. I also understand the harm of having a message distorted by going through multiple intermediaries, and therefore the simplicity and accessibility of a direct dialogue for all parties concerned – expressed in clear and understandable rules is very important to me.
The CLEAR acronym used for a Coaching Model by Professor of Leadership Peter Hawkins speaks to me because of its attachment to my personal and professional values and, what is also important – because of the simplicity and usability of its structure for the everyday work of a coach.
Clear Coaching Model
CLEAR coaching model stands for five stages of a coaching process:
Each of the stages is explored in more depth in the following paragraphs:
Coaching interaction begins with a discussion of the goals the client wants to achieve in changing hisher life and achieving their personal or professional goals.
Similarly to this, each coaching session begins with a discussion of what the client wants to achieve in the allocated time, how exactly he will understand that the session was successful, why it is important for the client to achieve the stated goal right now, and what exactly the client considers appropriate to start a discussion with.
This stage is very important to me and I consciously chose a coaching model that includes the stage of making a Coaching Agreement to guarantee that this point is included in every interaction with the client. Without getting clear answers to these four questions, our communication will not be coaching, but just a conversation between two people on a given topic.
Sample questions for this stage may be:
- What would You like to focus on in our today’s session?
- What topic did You bring to the session?
- What makes this important to You at this given moment?
- How would You know that You’ve reached the goal of our session?
- What would You like to discuss first?
The second stage is based on the use of the active listening skill by the coach, which also includes asking questions to help the coach and the client better understand the current situation, the client’s goals, and the obstacles standing in the way of achieving them.
At this stage of collaboration, the coach seeks to gain clarity and understand the details, and connections and becomes aware of what the client thinks about the topic of coaching and the necessary actions to achieve the goal. And also, which is also very important, what the client feels about this.
At this stage, it is important to actively listen and to hold the space for the client, but at the same time remain within the professional framework, avoiding familiarity and emotional dependence of the client on the coach.
Sample questions for the second stage:
- How can I support You here?
- What would You like to say about your thinking around this?
As clarity gradually emerges about the client’s events, feelings, and relationship to the topic discussed in the coaching session, the coach asks the client more probing and targeted questions in accordance with the approach agreed upon at the contracting stage.
In this phase, the coach seeks to help the coachee understand:
- their emotional connection to the current state,
- what they want to change, and
- how they can connect emotionally to future changes.
In order to be able to ask the most helpful questions for understanding the client and their transformational transition, the coach must cultivate trust and safety and maintain a presence during the coaching session. It is important that the coach’s questions are open, inviting to reassess the client’s vision, related to the client’s values, and designed to help the client move towards the goal of the coaching session. It is also important that the questions of a coach are clear and concise.
The best questions are those asked from a curiosity perspective, where the coach admits that he doesn’t know the answer and wants the client to help him and himself achieve the clarity to reach the goal of a session.
The goal of the coach at this stage is for the client to achieve a-ha moments, when he understands what exactly prevented him from reaching these goals in the past, or rethinks his view of the problem and begins to look at it from a different angle, which opens up new, previously not considered opportunities. Having reached these a-ha moments and a change of perception, the coach can develop the awareness of the client into conscious action planning on the next stage of their interaction.
Sample questions for his stage:
- It seems like You ….. What comes up for You when You hear this?
- What do You think is important in this situation?
- What makes it resonate with your values so much?
- What does being conscious look like for You?
- What would be different for You if You reached this goal?
This is the core of what the client needs from the coaching process, but this stage should not be used separately from the framework of the coaching model, as it is effective only in collaboration between all the stages so the client can realize and frame the goal, see what’s the current situation, what needs to be changed and how and finally do action planning and commit to it.
During the Action stage, the coach asks questions to help the client think about and motivate themselves to take the actions they need to take in order to achieve their planned goals. These questions should be challenging, but the coach should not steer the client in any particular direction, nor should they do the work for the client and advise or develop their own course of action if the client cannot figure out what needs to be done right away.
At this stage, the coach and the client observe what needs to happen in between sessions so the client reaches desired goals. What is standing in the way? What could hold the client accountable to make changes happen? What support the client needs and who can help him? The important thing here is that the coach is never playing an active role in supporting the client’s actions to avoid creating a dependency of the client on the couch in reaching his goals.
- How would You like to start the change process?
- What could help this happen?
- Who may You speak to about this?
- What could be the first step You make after the session?
- What could hold You accountable to reach the goal?
- What support do You need to reach the goal?
At the final part of the coaching session, the coach summarizes the progress made and invites the client to assess how the goals of the coaching session have been achieved. At this stage, it is important to ask questions about what the client has realized about himself and his progress toward the goal. It is also important to ask the client what other issues can be discussed during this session if something important has fallen out of the focus of the discussion.
Also, at the end of the session, it is useful to discuss the overall progress of the coaching collaboration, such as how the client feels about the movement towards the goal of the coaching interaction, how effective the communication is, whether changes are required to the meeting schedule and the planned number of coaching sessions.
After discussing all these issues, if the client does not require further clarification, the coach asks the client for consent to end the session.
I find the CLEAR coaching model insightful for my daily experience of coaching targeted transformational change in my clients’ lives.
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Hawkins, P. (2014). Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership (Second Edition). Kogan Page.
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