The Advancing Leadership Blog

Q&A with Alan Fine, author of “You Already Know How to be Great”

Alan Fine is an accomplished tennis, golf, and executive coach and renowned expert on peak performance, and believes that the conventional “outside-in” learning method is often what holds people back from doing their best work. According to Alan, the biggest obstacle to improved performance isn’t NOT knowing what to do; it’s the failure to act on what we already know.

I took the opportunity of Alan’s Soundview Live webinar last Tuesday, Tap into the Greatness Already Within You, to ask him a few questions about his new book and the GROW theory.

You’ve been working with the ‘GROW’ theory for over 25 years – what was the catalyst to publish your book now?

I’m a coach at heart. I started coaching tennis when I was 14 years old and it’s what I have always done in some form or other. Over the years I have had requests to put the InsideOut approach in writing, first in golf and then in business. But it was only when I finally got some expert help – my ghost writer Rebecca Merrill – that the ideas really took shape. Rebecca was extraordinarily skillful in helping me articulate some of the things I had struggled to put in writing.

You write about how important willingness is – before a person can achieve, they must be willing to be coached – and you have a lot of examples on individual cases. What tools and approaches can business leaders use to help entire teams be willing to be coached?

When people believe they have to comply with their leaders ideas, that they will be penalized for making mistakes and will not be truly listened to by their leaders, their willingness to be coached goes down dramatically. They want to play safe and just survive and this creates compliance rather than commitment needed for high performance.

I believe that inside everyone is the child that at one year old was insatiably curious about the world. It may be buried deeply by some of the experiences that have happened for them along the way but that willingness to learn, that insatiable curiosity is still there. People get in contact with the power of curiosity when they feel safe, when they are not afraid of being judged, when they are asked to do things that challenge them and when they are given the responsibility to map out their own solutions. The GROW model provides a fast simple way to make these things happen.

You say that ‘people don’t leave organizations, they leave their leaders’. Could you please tell me more about that?

People go the extra mile for leaders who treat them right.  They will go the extra mile when they are treated as a valued human being. At its simplest that means they are treated with respect and dignity, their leaders understand and care about what’s important to them in terms of what is happening in their life and what is important to them in terms of their goals and aspirations. When people don’t feel they are cared about and treated right by the person that supervises them, they look for an opportunity to work with and for someone that does.


If you’d like to find out more, the complete webinar will be available on Soundview in the coming weeks. You can also visit Alan Fine’s website at

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