SAGE Coaching Model: Doing More with Less

Check out my Audio Interview on the topic of “Doing More with Less


As a business leader, where do you feel you struggle the most? It may be hard to boil down into just a few words, but I’ve found leaders are looking for ways to do more with less. They’ve got greater responsibilities, tight deadlines, budgets that are not as large as they’d like and they’re looking for ways to delegate, empower their team, encourage employees to take initiative and take risks and make tough calls – and all the while, taking ownership and remaining accountable while doing this.

Doing More with LessI developed a model called SAGE, (from my company Sage Alliance), and here’s the acronym: S is Situation Analysis, A is Alternative & Options, G is Goal Setting, and E is Execution & Accountability. The model is very easy to use and the leaders I have trained and coached on this model have told me how easy it is because it follows a very easy format.

Situation Analysis

The first step is Situation Analysis, where you sit down with your employee and you clarify the situation. You are identifying, with the employee, what the challenges are, the obstacles and the specific things are that are standing in the way of them being successful. Here are some questions that can be asked…

• What’s the current situation or what’s your assessment on things?
• Where do you need help or what’s getting in the way of success?
• What obstacles are standing in your way?
• What have you already tried?
• What’s worked, what’s not worked?

The objective is to get a grasp of what’s going on, where the challenge is, what the obstacles are, and what’s stopping the employee from proceeding forward.

Alternatives & Options

Once you’ve gotten a good grasp of the situation, you really want to explore alternatives. Because in most cases there’s not just one specific answer that can work, but rather there could be multiple answers or solutions. It’s a question of getting all those options on the table, and then exploring what could work, and what won’t work.
You as the leader are the facilitator in getting those options on the table. Some questions you can ask are:

• What are some options?
• What else can you do?
• What are some ideas that can work?
• What could you do differently?
• Would you like to brainstorm some options?
• What have you already tried?

While brainstorming, I like to say, okay what’s another option and then what’s another? This helps to get them thinking. You also want to ask them what are the pros and cons of each option? There’s lots of options, and what we really want to do is weigh the pros and cons and understand which one has the least risk but is going to afford the greatest benefit.

Goal Setting

We’ve weighed pros and cons and now it is decision time. You may find there are actually two decisions, a short-term and a long-term decision. In this case, the longer-term goal is going to be something different, so here’s where we set these goals. You can ask; “short-term, what are you going to do?” Here’s an example of a response; “I’m going to delegate just a few projects now but long-term, I need to work on getting my people up to speed. I need to get them more training.” So you can see how you might be setting more than one goal, a short-term and a long-term goal, with your employee.

There’s usually an opportunity to tie this step to a larger goal. The larger goal in this example could be, if you want to take that next step in leadership, you are going to have to get more comfortable delegating. As coaches, we never want to lose sight of the individual’s larger goal. I know a lot of people are familiar with SMART goals but making them SMART, Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound is most important. It’s not enough to say, “I’m going to delegate more.” Some questions to make this SMART include:

• How are you going to do this (in this case delegate more)?
• When are you going to start?
• How will we measure it?
• What is the timing for getting started on this?

Execution & Accountability

I have observed so many people having great discussions with their employees, but they never bring it home. They don’t talk about the accountability and then they are surprised when the employee doesn’t follow through. The employee didn’t follow-up, in our example, with delegating and you as the leader are wondering why they didn’t go forward with this goal. This step is your ability to tie everything you discussed in a nice clean knot. Questions to ask include:

• When are you going to start this?
• When are you going to finish this?
• What support do you need from me as your leader?
• How will we measure success?

In our example, is delegating once enough? Does this constitute success or is it multiple times? How will we measure this? One of my favorite questions to ask is, “on a scale from 1-10, what’s the likelihood of you doing what you said you would do?” Using our example; “you agreed that you were going to delegate x number of projects to x number of people, what is the likelihood that you are going to do it?” And if you hear an 8 or a 9 or even a 10, that’s great. It sounds like they are committed and going to do what they said, but if you hear a 3, or a 4 or even a 5 this should give you pause. You can then ask; “what will it take to turn that 3 into a 7 or into an 8?” This is how you will find out where that employee is really struggling and why.

Don’t forget to make sure you know how you are going to communicate, with the individual, about their progress. Ask; “when will you and I get back together again?” And then – a little encouragement always helps here. “I know you can do this. This is something I believe you can master.”

In my next blog, SAGE Coaching Model: Nuances of Being a Great Coach, I will take a deeper dive into my coaching model!

Sage Alliance, a Leadership Performance Company, provides coaching, teambuilding and assessments, workshops and speaking on topics including; leadership development, empowering teams, communications, lasting impressions, personal branding and building a coaching culture for executives and high-potentials – for both team and individual leaders.

Contact us today to discover how your organization can get the most through improved productivity, efficiency and direct impact to your bottom line, while leaders gain powerful insight, crystallize opportunities for growth and fine tune their strengths, enabling them to make the greatest impact. You can contact Shelley Hammell directly at

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