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A non-linear model for shaping coaching conversations,

processes and programs.
There are many coaching models/frameworks. QUT has developed a
model that incorporates recent thinking about leadership in complex
organisational contexts.
The eFIRE model (Abbott, 2016) is a simple, but not simplistic, framework
to help Leaders and Executive Coaches have conversations and series of F rame
for intention,
conversations that get beneath the surface of issues to ignite powerful change creative tension and
processes. Embedded in the model is the assumption that organisational life boundaries – with
is not predictable and leadership requires agility and flexibility in order to be curiosity
effective. eFIRE draws on multiple coaching, change and leadership models,
and is consistent with Richard Boyatzis’ (2006*) Intentional Change Theory.
Characteristics of eFIRE
;; Provides a conversational framework.
;; A fractal model – i.e. individual sessions and phases will reflect the patterns
and characteristics of the overall coaching or mentoring program. E xperiment e nergy I nquire
;; Designed to support coaching by Leaders and to encourage engagement from values, purpose through systemic
beyond the routine of day-to-day management and task-achievement.
and E xecute and relationships exploration of
for maximum impact multiple
;; Follows principles from complexity theory and complexity leadership. through intentional perspectives
;; It exhibits and draws on the metaphor of complex adaptive systems.
;; Incorporates how to coach and mentor in the ‘adaptive space’ to achieve
bureaucratic efficiency while at the same time generating change for growth.
;; A non-linear process – parties involved will move back and forth through the
phases as new events and learning emerge.
;; Energy sits in the centre of the model – coming from values and relationships.
R eflect
on exciting
possibilities using
strengths and
Take the organisational survey today:
References: eFIRE: a coaching methodology.
Abbott, G.N. (2017) Third-Generation Leadership Coaching in VUCA: The eFIRE Model for
Connecting Theory to Practice.
Manuscript in preparation.
Boyatzis, R. (2006). An overview of Intentional Change Theory: A complexity perspective.
Copyright © 2017 Graduate School of Business
Search: QUT LCAM
Igniting organisational performance
Leadership through Coaching and Mentoring leadership-through-coaching-and-mentoring or search: QUT LCAM
who are inspired to coach and coaches who are inspired to lead.
This course offers advanced thinking and competencies for leaders
Coaching and Mentoring).
Certificate in Business (Leadership through
is a core component of the Executive Graduate
QUT’s leadership development programs and
The eFIRE coaching model is integral to
you will have the opportunity to experience the power
curious about what happens. Through this simple experiment,
partnership and work through the model. Together, we will be
The best way to learn eFIRE is to try it. So now, form your coaching
– simply respond to the coach’s questions as best you can.
When you are the coachee, don’t look at the questions
• Just ask the questions!
• Do not tell stories of your own experiences
F • Do not make suggestions
Remember – just for now:
you would vary from the script.
variations to make sense in the context. We know that in the field
coaching role, just ask questions from the model – with minor
For the purposes of practicing the model, when you are in the
coachee using a real issue – but a manageable one!
Divide up the time equally. Have a go at being a coach and a

(and observer – if in 3s).

e Decide who the coach is, and who is the coachee
role of Leader-as-Coach.
would feel comfortable asking another person when you are in the
From each set, identify and circle approximately 2-3 questions you
conversations, processes and programs
Inquire, Reflect, and Experiment and Execute.
A non-linear model for shaping coaching Review the sample questions for each of Energy, Frame,
eFIRE Playing with eFIRE.
Frame for intention, creative tension Inquire through systemic exploration of
and boundaries – with curiosity multiple perspectives
In this phase, the goal is to set intention for the scope of the challenge. Once a process and direction is understood through Framing, the parties engage
Coaching is invariably concerned with change and framing will include in an emergent process of systematic inquiry. A systems inquiry engages thinking
discussion of an ideal state that differs from current reality. about what other perspectives are at play in the issue at hand.
• This is the opportunity for the Leader to inspire the Coachee to think about how things would • It would normally start with the Leader exploring the way that the Coachee is
be if they were moving towards an ‘ideal’ (at an individual, team or other level). seeing the challenge.
• The context of the individual, in the team, in the organisation, in the industry/society is • Systems thinking methodologies might be used here, or other tools for
considered and made relevant. expanding the perspectives in the conversation.
• Organisational and team strategies, targets and objectives are considered. • Following a conversation, the Coachee might decide to talk to other people
and undertake a separate process of inquiry before returning to a new discussion.
• A process is agreed for moving forward that includes boundaries that both limit
and enable. • The Leader may have a perspective which is offered as late as possible in the conversation
(noting of course that organisational rules, policies and procedures
• The coach will use energy questions appropriate to the context. may determine elements of the inquiry).

Sample questions Sample questions

1. What would you like to think about in this conversation? 1. What is happening now that is related to your intention – the key influences, events, factors,
2. What is important about this issue right now – for you and others? emotions, systems, cultures and patterns? (As part of this, it is always a good idea to take
time to draw a big, rich, colourful picture).
3. How does the issue fit with the various priorities and strategies of our team/division/org? 2. What strengths, resources and capacities do you/we have that will be helpful to you/us in
4. At the end of our conversation, what would you like to be different? getting to a successful conclusion for meeting your/our intention?
3. What is working now, and what is not working? (Consider from some different viewpoints)
5. What are the consequences of not acting to change the situation?
4. Who has power in this situation, including the power to get resources?
6. Imagine we get exactly what you/we want – what is possible and what will things be like?
5. How does the past influence the present and future here?
7. What other things, issues and challenges concern you now? 6. How are you currently approaching this issue? How are you thinking about it and how might
8. How do you feel about this issue? you if you wanted to be even more effective?
7. When you look at the challenges here, what metaphor comes to mind? What might be another
9. As we consider this issue, what might ‘doing the right thing’ mean here – thinking about it contrasting one that brings other ideas to the fore?
from some different directions?
8. What are some different methods/tools/models you could use to explore this issue?
10. What do you know for sure about yourself - and others involved - that gives you confidence 9. What different cultural perspectives and values might be involved (national, social, industry,
that a positive outcome is possible? company, department, philosophy, worldview etc.)?
11. In one sentence, what defines your intention in this issue/situation? How does it feel? 10. Who are the main supporters, opposers, and fence-sitters – and what are their perspectives?
12. In broad terms, what does the story of success look and feel like here? 11. Is there anything that seems to be emerging that wasn’t expected?
12. What influences from outside the team/company could influence the situation and how?
13. What conversations are happening around this issues now – where, who, what, why, how?
14. What are the apparently contradictory, paradoxical or conflicting forces, ideas and
perspectives that seem to be in play? How might they be considered in ways that they are
supporting each other?

Energy from values purpose F rame Sample Questions

and relationships
for intention,
creative tension and
boundaries – with 1. How is this issue/intention meaningful to you personally?
Energy from values, meaning and purpose fuels the 2. As we are talking, what has given you energy?
model and provides for the injection of emotional 3. What is exciting here?
authenticity. The questions relating to energy may 4. If you think about the morals and ethics here – what is ‘right’ - what
not be best placed at the start of the conversation. inspires you? (And what might be wrong?)
The art of leadership coaching is to engage in
the conversation in ways that will sustain energy
E xperiment e nergy I nquire 5. What is important to you about working in this area?

through the process. and E xecute from values, purpose

and relationships
through systemic
exploration of 6. How do you make meaning from what you do?
for maximum impact multiple
through intentional perspectives 7. What are you/we like when you/we are fully engaged?
• This element comes from a body of research in positive action

psychology and related disciplines that consistently finds 8. To what extent have you identified your personal values and your
that human flourishing depends upon people having vision/mission in work and life? How might these be relevant here?
some higher order purpose. 9. What is your peak experience in your work life? Why?
• Organisations are increasingly being called to R eflect 10. Who do you love to work with here?
account to go beyond shareholder value to make on exciting
a positive contribution. possibilities using 11. What really matters to you here?
strengths and
resources 12. What story of how this all plays would be really energizing for you
• Through how they show up, the questions they ask, and
and for others?
the causes they pursue, leaders have
enormous capacity to vary the energy that can 13. If you were having fun, what would be happening, what would you
eFire: a coaching methodology.
ignite organisations – for better or for worse. be doing, and how you be?

Experiment and Execute for maximum impact through Reflect on Exciting Possibilities: using strengths
intentional action and resources
This phase is when some choices are made about taking action that This phase is concerned with stepping back to reflect on the outcome of
matches intention. Inquiry and working with energy to generate ideas on what could be possible.
• The assumption is that action taken as a result of systemic inquiry and reflection • The Leader calls the discussion back to the systemic nature of the inquiry.
is likely to have a positive impact - of some kind. • The Coachee is challenged to think holistically as he or she engages with the
• An action plan is devised by the Coachee that maximises the possibility that detail of designing possible ways to progress.
positive change will occur toward the ideal state. • There are no limits placed here.
• Note that in complex organisational situations there are rarely any approaches that offer • The Leader assists the Coachee in finding areas of high and low energy that
100% success so multiple ‘safe-fail’ approaches is often the best strategy. might inform later decisions about where to place emphasis.
• The mode is of experimentation and of execution.
• A monitoring system is embedded in the plan. Sample questions
1. Now you’ve thought about it, what might be some clear success criteria in this situation?
Sample questions 2. What are possible ways of positively influencing the situation?
1. What emerges as the best approach(es) to take that will have a positive impact? 3. When you look back at the knowledge you’ve gained from the Inquire phase, what do you
2. Which way(s) forward is/are the most exciting? notice how different ideas, people, systems etc. seem to connect?
3. If you experiment in this way, what is likely to happen next? 4. What approach would give the best chance of a great outcome? Who might have some
different answers to this question?
4. What other things might you do (safe-fail approaches) to test the water at the same time?
5. What strengths will help you – yours, others’ in the team, others’ outside the team?
5. What is the first thing you need to do?
6. What are some radical, innovative and/or creative approaches?
6. What conversations do you need to have to move this along?
7. What approaches best tap into sources of power, knowledge and resources?
7. With the approach(es) you are considering, what relationships are critical?
8. If there were no constraints, what would you do right now?
8. Does the plan fit with our team, department and organizational objectives?
9. What are some different ways of telling the story about this issue?
9. How can you/we keep track of your intentional actions?
10. Think of three people you trust? What suggestions would they have?
10. If you drew a rich, colourful picture of your actions and their consequences in and across the
different systems involved here, what would you notice about how things are connected? 11. Have you/we been in a similar situation before? What worked then?
11. How are you/we going to plan this so you/we get the outcome you want? 12. What would you really love to try – just to see what happens?
12. What obstacles might you encounter along and what plans do you have if they happen? 13. What are some ways you will be able to keep track of what is going on?
13. Is the way you/we are going the ‘right’ thing to do? 14. Imagine someone told you that you’d missed the best option. Who would say that and
what might they suggest?
14. Briefly explain why the strategies you propose are going to provide a positive outcome.