Grow - Coach to the Opportunity


To grow is an omnipresent objective, if ever I found one.

Economies want to grow.

Industries want to grow.

Organisations want to grow.

Leaders want to grow.

Adults want to grow personally and professionally.

And of course, children grow (up) - mostly...

Would you jump at the chance for your share in the 100's of Billions in untapped performance potential in the Australian workforce?

No brainer, right? Let's explore this opportunity...

Consultants and Coaches thrive on the need we have to grow. They make a business out of it. They even coin versions of their own 'GROW' acronyms as part of employee and individual feedback and development processes.

All too often, however, to grow focuses coaches, people, and leaders on addressing and overcoming some sort of issue or deficiency. Focusing on shortcomings is common. It creates dissonance. A disharmony between the current reality and a desired future ideal or goal. It works, too, creating a motivational pull towards improvement. It's human nature to be motivated to resolve issues, gaps, weaknesses, and risks. And it's also true that there are plenty of them.

For example - in my line of work where performance psychology and wellbeing intersect - key client issues including work stress, disengagement, and burnout, as well as poor mental health management, have monumental productivity costs in the 10's of Billions annually in the Australian economy alone (e.g. Beyond Blue & PWC,Medibank).

This is where we see people benefitting from typical uses of coaching conversations and the GROW process (and even the recent update called the I-GROW model). That is, a leader or coach identifies an 'Issue', and present that 'Issue' as the context for growth in a feedback or development conversation. A classic approach and one which certainly has its place.

However, although this focus is valid and needed, I believe it can be supplemented. this focus misses the important 'Opportunity' in the formula for growth. I'm not alone in this either. The Sales Operations Director at Domain Group believes 'opportunity'-focused coaching and conversations leaders and coaches provide have room to (dare I say it) growSo the questions we need to explore include...

How can leaders and coaches proactively identify and continuously discuss 'opportunities' for growth?

How can we expand on the classic issue-response approach to feedback, and become more proactive with growth opportunities?

How can leadership communications and employee performance management and development discussions target 'opportunities' to grow?

Although it sounds intuitive and simple (which it is) - many organisations, leaders, and coaches miss this opportunity. The issue focus predominates, and untapped potential lies dormant...

Perhaps you are sceptical of the value of this approach. You may be wondering why you would focus on 'Opportunities' when there are clearly 10's of Billions to make up by focusing on 'Issues'?

What would you say to 100's of Billions?

***enter Dr Evil laugh here***

Humour aside, it's no laughing matter that Ernst and Young reported a $305 Billion productivity shortfall due to untapped potential in the Australian workforce.

Is this a big enough 'Opportunity' for growth?

The research highlighted that:

  • 85% of Australian's believe they could be more productive at work.

That's 4 out of every 5 employees that have more potential to demonstrate.

  • 21% greater daily performance is possible if they could change just one or two things at work.

Let's reiterate the math =

$305 Billion in annual performance potential can be realised.

The EY report outlined that "If just 5% of this potential was unleashed, the ASX200 could again approach, and perhaps exceed, the magical 6000 level last seen in 2007".

I strongly believe working professionals, leaders, and organisations would therefore benefit from bringing a mindset focused on identifying and coaching to opportunities. At the risk of adding another process to the already crowded coaching and consulting worlds, I propose the O-GROW model.


  • Coach and high-performing coachee explore opportunities for leveling up performance and boosting productivity.

  • 'Strength-based' GROW conversations such as these will empower coach and coachee to focus on crafting Goals for one's role, accountabilities, projects, and tasks around an individual's strengths, talents and expertise - an opportunity to expand on already levels of high-performance.


Before people get scared that this approach will serve to add more to a good performers already full plate, creating a risk for burnout, read on...

To GROW does not always have to mean doing more. In fact, more and more doing is creating an unhelpful by-product of less and less (well)being. Therefore..

  • Opportunities identified can absolutely include allowing and empowering a good performer to let go of, automate, or even outsource activities that get in the way of or undermine their productive potential.

  • What's more, we should all focus on opportunities where greater wellbeing will yield a flow on effect for productivity.

Find and welcome 'Opportunities' into your leadership communications, and realise the growth that lies on the other side.

Your organisation, employees and their families will thank you for it!