Exploring the CIGAR Coaching Model: A Guide for Life Coaches

cigar coaching model

Do you want to build up your coaching skills with the CIGAR coaching model but are unsure how to implement it effectively? 

The CIGAR model is one of the popular coaching models that can transform your coaching sessions and interventions. It can allow you to create meaningful and lasting change for your clients!

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the intricate aspects of this powerful tool and provide you with valuable insights and practical tips on how to use it effectively. 

Read on to learn about:

  • What the CIGAR coaching model is
  • The benefits of the CIGAR coaching model
  • When to use the CIGAR coaching model

What Is the CIGAR Coaching Model?

cigar coaching model

The CIGAR coaching model empowers clients to take ownership of their own growth by focusing on their current rather than their desired reality.

It is a versatile tool used in various settings, such as business, education, and personal development.

Developed by Suzy Green and Anthony Grant in 2003, this coaching model is a five-step process that helps coaches and clients work together to achieve specific goals. 

The acronym CIGAR stands for:

  • Current Reality 
  • Ideal
  • Gaps 
  • Action 
  • Review 

How does it work?

Simply put, this approach starts with the coach talking to the client about their current situation and then discussing the goals they want to achieve. 

Here, they’ll identify the gaps between the current and desired reality and the obstacles that hinder the client from reaching their goals. The coach and client will then develop ideas to help the client overcome the obstacles and close the gaps.

For instance, an executive coaching client wants to land their dream job at a C-suite level. However, this client may be missing several skills before they’re eligible for the role, such as:

  • Subject matter expertise in their industry
  • Effective delegation
  • Strategic thinking and foresight

If you were coaching this client, you’d need to help them develop a strategy to close the gap between the person they are right now and the person they need to be to land that dream job.

After that, they’ll establish an action plan to move the client from their current situation to their desired state. This is followed up by reviewing the client’s progress in reaching their goals.

How to use the CIGAR coaching model effectively

To effectively use the CIGAR coaching model, consider the following tips: 

1. Current Reality: Start by understanding the client’s current reality. Take time to get to know your client deeply. Go beyond what’s on the surface – you’ll need to come up with the right questions to understand their current reality:

  • What are their passions? 
  • What drives them? 
  • Where do they excel? 

2.  Ideal: Help the client visualize their ideal outcome. Goal-setting is crucial. In the CIGAR coaching model, set realistic objectives aligned with the client’s strengths and motivations. 

  • What would their life look like if they achieved their goals? 
  • What would they be doing differently? 
  • What would they be feeling?

3. Gaps: Identify the gaps between the client’s current reality and ideal outcome. 

  • What are the obstacles that are preventing the client from achieving their goals?

4. Action: Help the client create an action plan to bridge the gaps. 

  • What steps need to be taken? 
  • What resources are available? 
  • What timeline is realistic?

5.  Review: Regularly review the client’s progress and provide feedback. 

  • Are they on track to achieve their goals? 
  • Are there any adjustments that need to be made to the action plan?

Benefits of the CIGAR Coaching Model

Why should you choose the CIGAR coaching model over another approach? Here are just a few of the benefits you’ll see from this particular model!

1. Focus on strengths

The CIGAR model focuses on the client’s strengths and resources, which can help them feel more confident and capable. 

This can lead to greater motivation and a more positive outlook on their goals.

Because you clearly establish a gap in realities with your client, the transformation is obvious. So, when you review changes and your client notices their progress, it’s almost impossible not to feel motivated to keep going!

For instance, imagine you’re a dating coach working with an extremely shy client. The client wishes to feel at ease with their dates so they can have deep conversations and get to know people better.

Let’s say your client is unable to initiate a conversation. However, a few weeks into your coaching program, they can finally ask their date a few questions to spark a conversation.

Even though they’re far from reaching their end goal, they’ll feel motivated thanks to the progress they’ve already made! 

2. Collaborative approach

It encourages collaboration, where the coach and client work together to set goals and create an action plan. 

It builds trust and rapport and helps clients feel more ownership of their personal growth.

3. Structure and focus 

This model provides structure and focus for each coaching session. 

It helps clients keep on track and motivated, especially those struggling to stay focused on their goals.

4. Regular reviews and feedback

The CIGAR model includes regular reviews and feedback sessions, which can help the coach monitor the client’s progress and adjust the plan as needed.

During each coaching session, you’ll be able to establish what the gap looks like compared to what it was previously. For instance, whenever I provide feedback on a client’s copywriting work, I always watch out to see if the gap is closing – not widening.

Is the client learning from specific copy critiques and coaching advice? Or are they repeating similar mistakes from time to time?

If the latter happens, I know I need to change my approach with this client immediately! But I wouldn’t know if regular reviews weren’t part of our relationship.

Tailored strategies

By considering each client’s unique skills and motivations, you can develop customized plans that align with each client’s specific goals. 

This personalized attention makes the coaching process more effective than a blanket approach for every client.

Saves time

CIGAR-style interventions facilitate focused one-on-one interactions, enabling faster progress toward desired outcomes.

Because you follow a specific process, you’re not reinventing the wheel with every client.

When to Use the CIGAR Coaching Model

The CIGAR coaching model isn’t one-size-fits-all. It’s best for specific scenarios and clients; knowing when to use it can enhance your effectiveness as a life coach. The CIGAR model is well-suited for:

  • Clients with specific goals. The CIGAR coaching model is ideal for clients who have clear goals but are unsure how to achieve them. It’s perfect for career, personal development, or health and wellness objectives.
  • Personalized attention and guidance. It is effective for clients who need tailored attention and guidance. It allows coaches to create strategies that work specifically for them.
  • Transformational change. CIGAR coaching is perfect for clients seeking transformational change. It’s designed to close the gap between their past selves and where they want to go!
  • High-stress individuals. CIGAR Coaching is great for high-stress individuals like executives or entrepreneurs. It sets realistic expectations and provides regular feedback, keeping them grounded yet motivated.

Real-life situations using the CIGAR coaching model

A business owner who is looking to grow their business 

Using the CIGAR model, the business owner could:

  • Identify their current reality, such as their current sales figures and the performance of their team.
  • Define their ideal future, such as what their sales figures would look like if they were growing their business – and what their ideal team would be capable of.
  • Identify the gaps between their current reality and their ideal future. What are the differences? 
  • Develop an action plan to close those gaps – developing a marketing plan, increasing their sales team, or expanding into new markets.
  • Review progress to see if the marketing plan is helping the business approach the desired sales numbers and change directions if required.

A manager who is trying to improve their team’s performance 

The CIGAR coaching model could help the manager to: 

  • Identify their team’s current performance by analyzing various performance metrics.
  • Define what their team’s ideal performance would look like in terms of those performance metrics.
  • Identify the gaps between their team’s current performance and their ideal performance.
  • Develop an action plan to close those gaps – for example, through new training, providing feedback or incentives to team members, or changing the team’s structure.
  • Review current performance and get feedback from the team to see if anything needs to be changed before future reviews.

A professional who is looking to advance their career 

The professional could: 

  • Identify their current reality, such as their current job title and their target job title
  • Define their ideal career path, for example, whether they see themselves in the same company or industry in the future.
  • Identify the gaps between their current reality and their ideal career situation, for example, skill or experience gaps or the need to seek a new position. 
  • Develop an action plan to close those gaps –  perhaps a networking plan, taking on new challenges, or getting certified in new skills.
  • Review new skills to see if the professional is progressing according to the plan.


The CIGAR coaching model: Is it worth your time?

Whether or not the CIGAR coaching model is worth your time depends on your individual needs and goals. 

If you are looking for a coaching model that is simple, easy to follow, and effective, then the CIGAR model is a good option. 

However, if you are looking for a more specialized or in-depth coaching model, then the CIGAR model may not be the best fit for you.

Why are other coaching models superior to the CIGAR model?

Other coaching models, such as the GROW model or the OSKAR model, may be more effective in certain coaching situations.

Each of these models has its own advantages and disadvantages. The CIGAR model is a simple and easy-to-follow model, but it may not be as comprehensive as some of the other models.

What are some personal experiences with the CIGAR model?

Some coaches find the model to be helpful, while others may find it to be too time-consuming or not as directive as they would like.

Ultimately, the effectiveness of the CIGAR model depends on the individual coach and the client. The best thing to do is to read about the model and compare it to other coaching models before you make a decision.

Support Your Clients With The CIGAR Coaching Model

The CIGAR coaching model is a unique and effective approach for life coaches to help their clients achieve their goals.

With this model, you can create a comfortable and relaxed environment for your clients to open up about their challenges while promoting self-reflection and introspection!

Whether you’re looking to develop your coaching skills further or seeking new ways to support your clients, the CIGAR coaching model is worth exploring. 

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cigar coaching model

By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
July 28, 2023

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