The Key Coaching Model (KCM)

Introducing the Key Coaching Model

The Key Coaching Model is aptly named as coaching is about the coach providing the key to unlocking the clients’ potential. By following a prescribed process and demonstrating various techniques called “pillars” such as exhibiting rapport, asking appropriate questions, demonstrating empathetic listening, etc., the client should be able to unlock their potential.

The Key Coaching Model is based on six (6) core principles:
- Coaching is a systematic process, but adaptable and fluid to take into account the changing needs and priorities of the client.
- It requires planning on the part of the coach.
- The coach must be client focused.
- A good coach must unequivocally believe that the answer lies within the client themselves.
- The client must be goal-centered.
- The coach is constantly learning and reprocessing, developing a sense of professional identity.

The Key Coaching Model comprises of two major models commonly used in coaching.  The two major models are the Wheel of Life and the T-GROW Model.  In addition to these two models, two other dimensions needs to be present. The first one are the Learning, Application and Practice (LAP) that surround the whole process. The second dimension is what we refer to as “pillars”. These are the skills or competence (attributes) that an effective coach should have. The pillars are the attributes that provide the foundations that support and hold the coaching process together. If the pillars are strong then it is likely that the coaching process will be successful. Similarly, if any of the six pillars are weak or even not present, there is a strong likelihood that the coaching session or sessions would be shaky. Readers are asked to think as the teeth of a key as the visual representation of the pillars that underpin the coaching process. The final area deals with coaching viewed as a profession. The elements that make up this are on the right-hand side of the diagram.

Pre-Plan Stage - Prepare
A coach must establish a routine by way of good practice and professionalism. The setting must be right Hicks et al. (2014).
Creating a safe environment

The majority of people undertaking coaching for the first time will be apprehensive. They will probably be slightly unclear as to what the outcome might be and perhaps uncomfortable with the prospect of revealing personal aspects of themselves to a stranger. The coach needs to be aware of this and manage their expectations and insecurities. This includes the following:

- Room Setting
- Methodology
- Confidentiality

Key Responsibilities

In addition to the above, you as a coach have a number of responsibilities to fulfill. These include adhering to the Data Protection Act 1984 and 1998, providing a clear contract (allowing time for the client a “cooling off” period). The coach is also responsible for the following:

-Ethics and Ethical Standards
-Code of Practice (Conduct)
-Encouraging honesty
-Positive attitude
-Commitment to success
-Focus on the client
-Facilitative Role

Wheel of Life

The Wheel of Life has ancient origins and can be traced back as far as the earliest Buddhist traditions. It has been adapted and is one of the most useful tools in the coaching toolkit. It enables the coach to assist their client in identifying an area they would like to focus on. The power of using the wheel lies in its simplicity and the “instant visual” it provides for a client.

The T-GROW Cycle of Model

The T-GROW originates from the GROW Model which was developed by Sir John Whitmore. The later model still remains the most prevalent coaching model today Wilson (2010). However, we have added the letter “T” to the model to represent the area called Topic. The T-GROW Model provides a clear framework to follow and allows the coach to structure the session ensuring that the most crucial areas of achieving a goal are discussed and thought through. T-GROW stands for the following:

-W=Way forward

Pillars Of Coaching

The pillars are the attributes that provide the foundations that support and hold the coaching process together. These are the skills or competence (attributes) that the coach should have to be a successful coach. By demonstrating various techniques such as exhibiting rapport, asking appropriate questions, empathetic listening, etc., the client should be able to unlock their potential. Think of the teeth of a key as the visual representation of the pillars that underpin the coaching process.

All of these play a different role in the coaching process. A great coach will be able to demonstrate the above in the coaching process. If there is an imbalance in one of the pillars then the coaching session is likely to be unbalanced or sub-optimal with a distinct possibility of the client not working towards their goals or even worst, not bothering to let the coach know how they are doing because they felt that the session was a waste of time. A weakness in one area could result in a less effective coaching session.

Professional Practice - Learning Application and Practice (LAP)

To demonstrate any form of credibility and currency in the coaching profession, a coach must be able to undertake the following:

-A strong sense of professional identity
-Professional Development Plan

For more details on the above you will find more information as to how to use the Key Coaching Model in the “The Key to Coaching” by Ali and Chan either on either Amazon or on


Ali, A. and Chan, E. (2016) The Key to Coaching – Learning, Application and Practice, Lulu Press, North Carolina, USA
Hicks, R. and McCracken, J. (2014) How to get the most out of your coaching, Physician Executive, January - February, pp. 78-80
Passmore, J. (2006) Excellence in Coaching – Industry Guide, Kogan Page
Wilson, C. (2010) Tools of the trade, Training Journal, November pp. 70 – 71.