Coaching Model: The MAX

For Coaches

A Coaching Model Created by Susan Hillen
(Career Coach, UNITED STATES)


Each person is unique and is born with innate talents and abilities.  However, it is not always easy to recognize them in ourselves.  Perhaps, we may have been told certain things as a child by our parents, teachers, relatives, and friends of what we are good at.  We try new things, experiment, and find out what we are really good at or not good at.  Our values, interests, passion, and potential will continuously influence us in our lives as we discover ourselves and what job and careers we want to pursue.  We grow into adults and continue on a path to develop our talents into strengths and begin to truly share them with others.   It is our true talents and strengths that lie at the core of ourselves.  So how do we maximize our talents and career?   It begins with Career Coaching:  The MAX Model (see below).

Career Coaching: The MAX Model

Career Coaching Model Susan Hillen

The steps in Career Coaching:  The MAX Model include:

  • Discover Self
  • Plan Ahead
  • Set Goals
  • Develop and Grow
  • Results MAXimized

Step 1:  Discover Self

Whether you are at the beginning stages of your career, middle, or latter part of your career, the ability to discover or rediscover who you are remains constant.  Life is full of changes.  It is the perseverance through transitions that you grow and develop.  The more you know yourself the better you can adapt to changing circumstances.  For example, deciding which college to attend, starting your first job, making a job or career change, climbing your way up the corporate ladder, or surviving a downsizing can all be a time of discovery. 

During the coaching process, you will learn and discover who you are, what makes you unique, and how to apply your natural talents and abilities at any career stage.  You will learn how to tap into and recognize your unique strengths to take you where you want to go in your career.  Some tools and resources that will help you do this include the Gallup CliftonStrengths assessment and the Wheel of Life

Questions include:

  • What are your strengths?
  • What things come easily to you?
  • What activities bring you the greatest satisfaction?
  • What activities do you tend to avoid?
  • What are you doing when you feel your best?
  • What are your values?
  • What are your passions and dreams?
  • What would you like to have more of in your life?
  • What would you most like to accomplish?
  • What legacy would you like to leave behind?

Step 2:  Plan Ahead

Once you know where your true talents/strengths lie, it’s now time to plan.  This includes reviewing what your values, interests, passions, and potential are as a result of the discovery phase.  It may help to create a personal and/or career vision statement of what you want to achieve and aspire to be in your career. 

Questions include: 

  • What does your ideal career/life look like?
  • How do your values play a role in the next step of your career?
  • What interests do you have that motivate you?
  • How can your passions contribute to your success?
  • Where do you see yourself in the short term and long term?
  • How can you use your strengths to maximize your potential?

Step 3:  Set Goals

The next step is to set goals.  It has been stated that a plan without a goal is just a wish.  During the coaching session, you will explore your plans, set goals, and determine what actions you need to take to achieve them within a certain time-frame.  The SMART methodology is helpful to set goals that are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, and Time-bound.

Questions include:

  • What do you want to achieve?
  • How can you measure success?
  • What actions can you take to achieve your goal?
  • How can you use your strengths to achieve your goal?
  • How realistic are your goals?
  • What time-frame would you like to achieve your goal?
  • What knowledge, skills, and abilities do you need to develop to achieve your goal?
  • What experiences do you need to gain?
  • How can you maximize your success in achieving your goal?
  • How will you hold yourself accountable?

 Step 4:  Develop/Grow

As you work toward achieving your goals, check-in with yourself to see if you are growing and developing along the way.  It’s important to recognize how your strengths are contributing to your success. 

Questions include:

  • What self-development activities or training have you engaged in?
  • What knowledge, skills, and abilities have you developed to move you closer to your goal?
  • What strengths do your colleagues, friends or family see showing up in you?
  • What strengths may you be overusing that may be preventing you from achieving your goal?
  • What have you learned about yourself?

Step 5:  Results MAXimized

Now it’s time to see if you are achieving the results you wanted.  By evaluating where you are with your goals and action plan, you can determine your next steps.  For results to be maximized, it’s important, to be honest with yourself and your progress.  Reflect on this process and what value, trait, characteristic, or strength helped you to reach your goal and learn about yourself. 

Questions include:

  • Have you achieved the results you were looking for?
  • Are you achieving your goals within the set timeframe?
  • Have you celebrated your success along the way?

If you are not achieving your goals:

  • What may be holding you back?
  • What roadblocks/barriers are in your way?
  • What actions can you take to course correct?
  • What strengths can use to maximize your success?
  • Who may be able to support you?
  • What resources can you explore?

Career Coaching: The MAX Model

Career Coaching Model Susan Hillen

The MAX model can be used over and over again.  Once you have achieved your desired outcome/results, you can begin again by rediscovering yourself.  By staying true to yourself, your values, passions, interests, and potential, you can continue to achieve great things in your career/life.  Planning, setting goals, and developing and growing will help you to maximize results while tapping into your natural talents and strengths…leading to your success and maximum potential!


Gallup CliftonStrengths

LiveCareer:  Creating a Career Vision for Your Life: Envisioning your Ideal Career

Wheel of Life

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