CLEAR Coaching Model (Hawkins)

CLEAR Coaching Model - Toolshero

CLEAR Coaching Model: this article provides a practical explanation of the CLEAR coaching model, developed by Peter Hawkins. Next to what this acronym is, this article also highlights the background, the goal and benefits of coaching, self-development, the Principles of the CLEAR coaching model and a template with questions to get started. Enjoy reading!

What is the CLEAR Coaching Model? Theory and background

The CLEAR Coaching Model is a transformational coaching model used among leaders and managers, for example in the business world.

According to the developers of this model, you need to be more than just a manager. Achievement follows from leading and orchestrating actions and measures, involvement in company business processes, and the role of managers as catalysators in the development of employees.

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The name CLEAR is an acronym made up of the different phases of the model: contract, listen, explore, action and review. This article explains the different phases.

The CLEAR coaching model is a simple model. It is designed to help employees to gain an understanding and achieve fundamental changes based on new values, behaviour or convictions.

The CLEAR coaching model was introduced in the early 1980s. The individual accredited with its development is dr. Peter Hawkins, a professor of leadership and part of the Bath Consultancy Group at the time.

Dr. Peter Hawkins, an expert on Systemic Team Coaching

The coaching model was by developed by Peter Hawkins to achieve desired outcomes and maximum work results among company employees. It is similar to the GROW Coaching Model but highlights also other elements. This goes beyond solution-based coaching, where an individual is only guided to achieve a certain goal. The CLEAR coaching sessions are around 45 minutes to one hour long.

The GROW Coaching model is so popular for organising and structuring coaching sessions that other models are often overlooked, particularly in business coaching.

The CLEAR coaching model is one of those models. But this model can be applied very effectively. The model is designed so that the same process is used in each session of the coaching programme.

What is the goal of coaching in the business world?

The benefits of coaching are extensive. Many people who have taken part in coaching sessions know that coaching can have a positive influence on a career and on life. The benefits of coaching have shown in various studies, such as one by The Ken Blanchard Companies. They mainly deal with leadership development.

This way, employees are trained to be proactive so that they are actively endeavouring to reach goals. This makes people more independent and confident.

Another consequence of taking matters in one’s own hands is becoming more fulfilled in one’s work life. By actively using coaching, companies can enable their personnel to contribute more effectively to efforts in raising the company to a higher level.

Self-development and coaching

Coaching is invaluable for personal development. Managers and company heads are regularly, for example, confronted with employees who cope with motivation loss or low self confidence.

The traditional approach and view towards this is that those individuals should just take a refresher course in assertiveness and that’s that. Unfortunately, the effect of such courses is short-lived.

Even though behaviour can be changed by external influences, it is extremely important that change is supported by internal thinking processes. This is precisely where the value of coaching to the business world lies.

The impact of coaching can be massive. It is important that managers and company heads realise this before connecting employees to a coach or coaching model.

Coaching often bring about a fundamental shift in the way that employees approach their work. By gaining self confidence, employees learn how to bring more of themselves to the work floor. The result is that they become more assertive and resilient.

Principles of the CLEAR coaching model, the phases

One way to introduce coaching at work is by applying the CLEAR coaching model. The different phases of a coaching programme based on the principles of the CLEAR coaching model are explained below.

Phase 1. Contracting

The first stage of the coaching session, and the first phase of the CLEAR coaching model, is made up of various elements. The first element is about reaching an agreement between the coach and the coachee in terms of logistical aspects such as duration and frequency of meetings, locations, etc.

In addition, it’s important that the coachee determines exactly what is expected from the coach. This can include different things, such as helping with personal issues, shedding light upon other issues, defining SMART goals, or a combination of different wishes.

In short, the first phase of the CLEAR coaching model is about the following principles:

  • Opening dialogue
  • Defining scope
  • Defining desired results
  • Setting rules

Phase 2. Listening

The second phase is about active listening. Active listening also includes asking pointed questions with the goal of enabling the coach and the employee to understand the situation.

As a coach, it is important to adjust the listening process to the individual and to be considerate, empathetic and accurate.

This phase of active listening is crucial for the coaching process. In this phase, the individual is given the opportunity to reflect upon and scrutinise their own motivations behind certain behaviour.

During this process the coach should not interfere excessively, but should encourage the dialogue and guide the individual to the subjects and problems that are central.

Phase 3. Exploring

In the exploring phase of the CLEAR coaching model, open questions are asked based on a subject that has come to light in the previous phase.

When enough information has been collected and constructive dialogues have taken place, the whole story can be formed and additional details may be added.

In this phase, take the time to investigate as many aspects as possible and to look at the problem or situation from as many different perspectives as possible.

Once the full picture has been drawn, it’s time to become more proactive. The coach especially can look further into the depth and the context of the situation. This phase is meant to enable the employee or coachee to develop an emotional connection to the imminent change. This can be done by having someone describe the situation themselves.

The more catalysing questions are asked, the better the employee is enabled to create this emotional attachment to the situation themselves. Examples of this kind of questions are:

  • How will you be affected on a professional level by the changes about to happen?
  • How could future events and actions influence this situation?

In this phase, the candidate should have a moment of revelation, where they realise that something was keeping them from achieving their personal goals in the past. In this step, preparation takes place for the next phase: determining possible interventions to evaluate the effectiveness of these action moments.

Phase 4. Action

The fourth phase of the CLEAR coaching model is about enduring that the coachee is sufficiently committed to achieving the desired changes. Possible action points are set up and the candidate is expected to commit to these. The candidate should point out their own way to change and truly consider the impact of those changes.

The model suggests doing this in a question-based approach, with questions like: who, what, where, when and, above all, why?

Phase 5. Review

The last phase of the coaching model is about evaluating the session and intervention. During the intervention and the sessions themselves it is important, in intervals, to reflect on what exactly has been decided and what needs to happen. This can be effectively done by using calendars and with dedication. Every time a step has been made, it’s a good move to review that action.

Feedback is very important in this phase. What did the coachee find helpful? What should ideally be changed for future coaching sessions?

Pros and cons of the CLEAR coaching model

The use of the CLEAR coaching model as a basis for coaching sessions has a few pros and cons.

Pros of the CLEAR coaching model

  • The method offers a framework for professionals and avoids useless coaching sessions.
  • In combination with the SMART goals, it is clear to the coach as well as the coachee where the process is leading.
  • The CLEAR coaching framework is also a good tool for coaching groups or even for structuring business meetings.
  • The CLEAR coaching model enables durable change.

Cons of the CLEAR coaching model

  • The CLEAR coaching model was designed to be flexible, yet many individuals follow the model blindly, which reduces the potential of the model in certain situations.
  • Often candidates and employees are leading the coaching sessions by focussing on the future in each phase. Despite the flexibility of the model, it is still important that the basic elements of self reflection, consideration and evaluation are included.

CLEAR coaching model template, including questions

A toolshero CLEAR coaching model template with questions is available to download via the link below. This way you can start working on your own coaching sessions and individual development.

Download the CLEAR coaching model template

This template is exclusively for our paying Toolshero members. Click here to see if a membership is something for you!

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Now it’s your turn

What do you think? Are you familiar with the explanation of the CLEAR Coaching model? Are coaching techniques used in your own work environment? Do you think the productivity and effectivity of many departments and teams could be improved through coaching? Can you give an example of similar or alternative coaching techniques? Do you have any tips or additional comments?

Share your experience and knowledge in the comments box below.

More information

  1. Dembkowski, S., & Eldridge, F. (2003). Beyond GROW: A new coaching model. The international journal of mentoring and coaching, 1(1), 21.
  2. Hawkins, P., & Shohet, R. (2012). Supervision in the helping professions. McGraw-Hill Education (UK).
  3. Passmore, J. (2005). The heart of coaching: A coaching model for managers. The Coaching Psychologist, 1(2), 6-9.

How to cite this article:
Janse, B. (2021). CLEAR Coaching Model (Hawkins). Retrieved [insert date] from Toolshero:

Original publication date: 11/30/2021 | Last update: 09/03/2023

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Ben Janse
Article by:

Ben Janse

Ben Janse is a young professional working at ToolsHero as Content Manager. He is also an International Business student at Rotterdam Business School where he focusses on analyzing and developing management models. Thanks to his theoretical and practical knowledge, he knows how to distinguish main- and side issues and to make the essence of each article clearly visible.


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