The coaching model library: CLEAR

Steve Thomson details CLEAR, the latest model in our coaching model library.

Continuing our series looking at coaching models, I’d like to share a model developed by Peter Hawkins – author of ‘Creating a Coaching Culture’.

In my view this is a circular model; by which I mean that it can be used as a framework for an entire coaching intervention or it can be used to work through smaller aspects of the coachee’s requirements, then repeated to address the next issue, and so on.

The model is called CLEAR, and I love its elegance and simplicity. I feel it may be of most use to an experienced coach, but it wouldn’t be out of place in peer coaching or coaching by someone who is building their understanding of the craft.

The one thing I would say regarding the less experienced coach using this model (or others like it) is that there is a significant emphasis on accurate and incisive questioning as well as effective and patient listening, so ensure you are comfortable with these two important aspects of coaching before exploring this model.

The coaching isn’t about you, so be careful you don’t start to let your own internal dialogue or prejudices intrude into your listening.

Let’s now look at the model.

C – Contract: This phase of coaching can incorporate many things, but the first of these is to reach agreement with your coachee on logistical issues such as frequency and duration of meetings, location, etc.
From there, but still within the contracting space, you should start exploring what the coach wants or needs to get from the intervention.

This can be the uncovering of issues, defining of goals or indeed both of these. In the course of the coaching conversation subsequent to this contracting phase further issues or goals may come to light. If this occurs, it’s perfectly fine and reasonable to return to this phases to revisit and reinforce the mutual contract.

L – Listen: Ask the questions…then listen! Make sure your listening skills are well tuned; that you’re attentive, empathetic, accurate (check this by repeating what you believe you have heard back to your coachee) and pure. The coaching isn’t about you, so be careful you don’t start to let your own internal dialogue or prejudices intrude into your listening.

E – Explore: Having given the coachee space to provide you with as much information as they think they can share during the ‘listening’ phase it’s time to pick away a little. Asking open questions based around one topic that has been raised allows you to flesh out the story and get additional details that may be relevant or important. Take time to explore as many aspects as you can.

A – Action: In common with many other models there is space and time with this one to draw your coachee into finding and committing to actions to start their journey towards their stipulated goals or objectives.

R – Review: At intervals during the intervention and again at its close, it’s important to review what has been decided and what is to be done, along with timeframes and commitment. Whenever an action or step has been firmly contracted it’s a good move to review that action to make sure there is no misinterpretation and that both you and the client understand and commit to that action.

As I said earlier; this is an elegant model and one that, if it appeals to you, I recommend you try out to see if it works as well for you and your coachees as it does for me and mine.


About the author

Steve Thomson is a senior coach with Unlimited Potential.


TJ and Unlimited Potential are looking to create the most comprehensive list of acronym-based coaching models out there – with your help, we can do this. 

If there’s a coaching model you use, have heard of or simply don’t agree with, list it in the comments below and we’ll take it from there. Thanks for your help.



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