The FUEL coaching model

Bumped into the FUEL coaching model last week and I’ve been fascinated by its simplicity and ease of use. I wouldn’t call it a step up from the GROW model of coaching but an alternate framework to try out with your clients. If you’re asking “why the heck would I try out something new during an ongoing engagement, Sunil?” you have a point. But don’t you think your questions, gestures and even reactions become a little too predictable after a few sessions? Sure, the effect isn’t the same but your client surely can sense a pattern while working with you.

And I wouldn’t recommend switching or trying out frameworks just to add spice to your coaching practice. That’ll be moronic. My suggestion is more around have a few powerful tools handy. A set of 3-5 proven frameworks is a great asset. Just the other day, my coaching conversation did a 360 degree halfway through the session. We literally had to start over, considering the new objectives that we discovered. What did I do? I seized the opportunity and switched to FUEL (from another model that I use, my model… I’m still refining it and you’ll be the first one to get to know when it’s done)!

It was a powerful session. “Quite a memorable” one in client’s own words.

Sorry, I digressed. Here’s some scoop on FUEL that you’ll probably appreciate. If possible, use this with one of your co-workers (but please do tell them that “you’re coaching them”) who needs help. Here you go:

F – Frame the conversation: lay out the ground rules. Agree what’s going to be discussed, the time-frame (45, 60 or 90 minutes), the purpose of the conversation (by way of goals, objectives, and measures of success). The subsequent meetings will focus on what’s been achieved and what’s left to be done for this part of the conversation.

U – Understand the current state: Check in how they’re feeling. It’s not only good to know but absolutely essential for more intel on their state of mind and more importantly, gauge if their head’s in the right space to think, reflect and gain a greater perspective.

E – Explore the desired state: You explore by asking questions. Relevant ones. This isn’t an interrogation by any standards and exploration is an art. (Don’t try this at home. Especially with your spouse.) This stage plows through their values and beliefs and how they relate to their current situation. And believe me, all that exploration is what leads clients to achieve breakthroughs. If you’ve heard of the “aha” moment. This is where you’ll have them! This step also sets the stage for clearly defined plans and actions.

L – Lay out a success plan: This is where you co-create with the client. Remember, being the coach the onus is onto you to ensure that the client takes the lead in creating a detailed action plan. One that is both realistic and achievable within the defined timeline. You also make sure if they require additional support or would like someone (doesn’t have to be you) to hold them accountable or perhaps check if they have access to the right resources.

That’s about it! Of course, there are more nuances on how to apply this during your coaching conversations as a coach. But I’m of the opinion that knowing the framework and putting it into practice is a great start. Not everyone using FUEL is or has to be a coach. I’ve seen and known highly competent managers and powerful leaders using FUEL so effectively.

Good luck!


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