Background to the FUEL model

The FUEL model comes from by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett and explored in their book “The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow”.

Many coaches use ‘coaching models’ to help frame their coaching conversations, structure their questions and provide a simple process for the coachee. The FUEL model helps the coachee explore their own unique situation before identifying solutions and coming up with actions. In addition, it encourages the coach to use open based questions in their approach

The FUEL model is less specific than some coaching models, requiring the coach to have a good handle on strong, open questions. It is more suited to experienced and confident coaches. Or those who avoid leading questions and conversations.

F – Frame the conversation

This scene sets the conversation and enabling focus to be brought to the purpose of the conversation, how it will happen and what the client wants to achieve from it. Above all, it sets ground rules for the conversation process:

  • What do you want to discuss, and the reasons for this?
  • What’s the starting point?
  • Achievements from the conversation?
  • Anything to specifically talk about? Or no go areas?
  • Agree on areas and the coaching process

U – Understand the current state

Exploration with the client enables understanding of their current situation. Clarifying their perspectives and exploring actions, feelings, thoughts and impact, prior to coaching. Similarly, teasing out objective view points helps here.

  • What’s happening for you, that’s brought you to this point?
  • How and where are things progressing?
  • Risks / issues with current approach?
  • What is working well / not well currently?
  • Barriers / challenges you are facing?
  • How are you feeling / thinking about the situation?
  • Impact on you and other stakeholders?
  • What are the views of the other stakeholders?

E – Explore the desired state

Once an understanding of the current situation is obtained, the coach helps the client frame for themselves what they want the future situation to be like. Possibilities and opportunities are developed, that will help achieve the desired state. Finally, decisions are made on what to move forward with.

  • Describe for me your desired state.
  • What does this desired state look and feel like?
  • What will be happening in 6 months time that isn’t happening currently?
  • When you are there, what will others be saying about you / the situation?
  • This new state will give you what?
  • What needs to happen to get you there?
  • What will you need to do to achieve it?
  • Tell me about the approaches that might work here?
  • What are the possibilities?
  • How will your approaches be hindered?
  • What needs to happen to move this forward?

L – Layout a success plan

Finally, in the FUEL model, the actions are now identified, the client creates an action plan and steps. This focuses upon time bounded these actions.

  • Specifically, what actions need to happen to achieve your desired state?
  • What are the natural steps to make this happen?
  • First step? Second? And the next?
  • What is the natural flow to these steps?
  • What milestones will you build in?
  • Considering the timeframe for this, what times will be given to your steps?
  • Looking at it now, how achievable is the plan?
  • How are you feeling about your plans and the steps?
  • What support do you need and from whom?

In summary, any coaching model is an enabler of the coaching conversation and development. The FUEL model pushes more on the coach to develop a breadth of pertinent questions. It also specifically focuses on generating a picture of the desired future state. This creates more emotional engagement.

Found this resource useful? Contact Abintus to see how we can support you or your organisation in its coaching and leadership activities.