Remembering Sir John Whitmore (1937-2017)

This time let’s pause for a while to remember the incalculable contribution to the development of coaching made by Sir John Whitmore, who died recently…

GROWAs one of coaching’s pioneers, Whitmore must have influenced just about every coach on the planet through his seminal book Coaching for Performance, which first appeared in 1992. Encapsulating as it does the spirit of coaching at its best, this work also presents one of the finest explanations around of the ever-popular GROW Model – that practical, uncomplicated approach to coaching which will forever be associated with Whitmore.

I’ll leave words of reflection about Whitmore the man to be written by those fortunate enough to have known and worked with him personally. For now, I’d like to refer you to one of my previous posts, which teased out aspects of what coaching is by considering the implications of one of Whitmore’s characteristically no-nonsense but deceptively simple phrases – that coaching is “a way of seeing people.” *

“A way of seeing people.”  This phrase has made a profound impression on me, for Whitmore makes it clear that the way we see people is a matter of how we choose to see them.

A fresh and exhilarating vision is opened up of a world equipped with the tools to help us see who people might really be, and what they might really become – if they are enabled to tap into their own innate wisdom, through that process of self-revelation which so often unfolds during the magical interaction of skilled coach and receptive coachee…

Blue seeing eye

Whitmore trusted the coaching process he did so much to establish, and he trusted that with the right stimuli, a ‘coaching culture’ could emerge amongst groups of individuals, not only in organisations, but also beyond in society.

As coaches, we strive to carry Whitmore’s legacy forward, informed by his implicit belief in the capacity of human beings to give of their best if treated with the respect and compassion they deserve. Long may we continue to do so…


* The comment was made by Whitmore during an interview with Jane Renton for a Case Study in her book Coaching and Mentoring: What they are and how to make the most of them (2009).

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One thought on “Remembering Sir John Whitmore (1937-2017)

  1. Pingback: Structuring coaching sessions with GROW – Part 1: Introduction to the GROW Model & Goal Setting | Newbycoach thoughts

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