The POSITIVE coaching model has eight stages: Purpose, Observations, Strategy and SMART goals, Insight, Team, Initiate, Value and Encourage. This useful, solution focused, workplace model has more depth than GROW.

Summary by The World of Work Project


Coaching is a hugely helpful skill for leaders and managers in the world of work. It’s a great way to help team members develop or for behavior change. It’s particularly when combined with feedback and reinforcement. You can learn more about how to coach and the benefits of coaching in this podcast.

The POSITIVE Coaching Model

There are many coaching models that have catchy mnemonics. Of these, we think the POSITIVE coaching model is one of the best. It builds on the GROW model, adding further clarity and structure to the basic framework. We also recommend learning about the CLEAR coaching model.

The POSITIVE coaching model is a solution focused model that helps individuals identify their goals and start to work towards them. It has eight stages: Purpose, Observations, Strategy and SMART goals, Insight, Team, Initiate, Value and Encourage. This model is fairly simple, effective and popular in the workplace.

Individual using the Positive Coaching model in the world of work
Maybe you can have your coaching conversations outside.

Want to be a better manager?

 Consider our Connected Management development programme. Every year we run an open cohort of our Connected Management programme for those working in small organisations or organisations that are not able to funder development. The programme is £1100 per person with discounts of up to 40% for self-funders and non-profits.


In 2024, we have a cohort on Wednesday 3.30pm UK time and Thursdays 9am UK time from April 17/18. It comprises 10 online live workshops with two great facilitators and access to a bank of support materials. Learn more about the programme by clicking below.

Stage 1 – Purpose

The first stage of this model involves helping the coachee define their purpose, what they want to get out of the coaching relationship.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • What is your purpose?
  • What are you looking to achieve?
  • Where do you want to end up?
  • How do you think coaching will help you get there?
  • How will you know when you’re achieved your purpose?

Stage 2 – Observations

The second stage of the POSITIVE coaching model is all about understanding the current state. In this stage the coach should ask exploratory questions of the coachee to help them develop and verbalize what’s happening at the moment.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

It’s always important to look around and understand the current state.

  • What’s the current situation?
  • What’s the current reality?
  • How much would changing this mean to you?
  • What’s working well at the moment?
  • What’s not working well?
  • What needs to change?
  • Who else is involved?
  • What would happen if you did nothing?
  • What have you done to address this already?
  • What used to happen?

Stage 3 – Strategy and Smart Goals

The third stage of this model is all about focusing on the desired future state. The coach should help the coachee develop a clear understanding of what they would like the future to be like, and help them set specific goals to work towards.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • What are your objectives?
  • What goals do you want to reach?
  • How will you know when you’ve reached your goal?
  • How will you feel like?
  • What does good look like to you?
  • How will you measure your success along your journey?
  • When do you want to achieve your goals?
  • How will your goals help you achieve your purpose?

Goals are a key part of the positive coaching model in the world of work
Someone’s excited about their goals…

Stage 4 – Insight

The fourth stage of this model is designed to build motivation, and to ensure the described goals are appropriate. The coach should help the coachee explore their emotional connections with the goals and whether they seem fulfilling. It may be the case that the goals identified in stage 3 need to be revisited if they are not motivating enough.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • How do you feel about your goal?
  • How motivated by it are you?
  • Would you be proud if you achieved it?
  • If you look back on this goal later in life how would it make you feel?
  • What will your emotions be when you achieve it?
  • Can you visualize your success?
  • What blockers can you see in the path to your goal?
  • How could you overcome them?

Stage 5 – Team

The fifth stage of the POSITIVE coaching model is all about helping the coachee understand what support they need to reach their goals.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • Who would you like to support you with this goal?
  • What type of person might help you achieve this goal?
  • Who is supportive in your life?
  • Who would you like to speak to about this goal?
  • Who in you life can challenge, support and encourage you to succeed?
  • Who will you turn to when you need someone to help pick you up?

You can do a lot more with support than on your own.

Stage 6 – Initiate

As we get towards the end of this model the focus shifts to a real focus on action. This stage of the model is all about helping the coachee gain clarity over the specifics of what they will do, helping to build commitment and to launch them into action.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • What’s the first thing you will do?
  • When will you start this process off?
  • How will you begin?
  • How will it feel once you’ve taken the first step?

Stage 7 – Value

It’s not just good enough to help your coachee start doing things. As a coach, you also want to help ensure that they get a sense of progress and achievement throughout their efforts. To do this you want to help them recognize and celebrate their successes, which hopefully include some quick wins. Interestingly, quick wins and celebrating success are also important at an organizational change level, as evidenced in John Kotter’s 8 Step Model of Organizational Change.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • How will you recognize you’re making progress?
  • How will it feel at each stage of your journey?
  • How can you celebrate your successes?
  • Who can you share them with?
  • What’s your first key milestone?

Stage 8 – Encourage

The last stage of this model is about encouraging your coachee. This is important in the world of work. You should stay in touch with your coachee and engage with them about what they have been doing and how it’s going.

Maybe give your coachee a call to check on them from time to time.

Questions you might wish to ask at this stage include:

  • What progress have you been making?
  • What’s the next thing on your action plan?
  • What are you most proud of so far?
  • How are you progressing with your actions?
  • What are you most looking forward to doing next?
  • What feedback have you had so far?
  • What’s been the best result of what you’ve done so far?

Learning More

In other posts we have written briefly about the ABCDE, ACHIEVE, CLEAR, GROW and OSKAR coaching models. In addition, we’ve written about coaching wheels that can be helpful in personal and executive coaching.

If you’d like to learn what it’s like being or becoming a coach, you might enjoy this podcast:

The World of Work Project View

The POSITIVE model is an effective coaching model to use in the workplace. Though it covers roughly the same content as the GROW model it has added depth.

We particularly like the Insight and Team stages that are used to explore the coachee’s will to achieve their goal and their potential use of a support team.

We believe that the GROW model is the best model for someone new to coaching to start with because of its simplicity, but think the POSITIVE model is the next model that should be moved onto in a work context.

That said, we think that a lot of the things covered in coaching models are broadly common sense, and that there is a huge amount of overlap between the models. They’re useful tools, but as you develop as a coach you might find that you don’t actually need to use or follow them in any detail.

Our Podcast

Our Podcast is a great way to learn more about hundreds of fascinating topics from around the world of work.

The work in this post is based on original work by Vincenzo Libri and published in his 2004 article: Beyond GROW: in search of Acronyms and Coaching Models.

We’re a small organization who know we make mistakes and want to improve them. Please contact us with any feedback you have on this post. We’ll usually reply within 72 hours.