January 18, 2024

Two Models to Help Generate Options for the Future

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Welcome! As a mentor and supervisor, I have guided many people through professional and personal difficulties, and helped them shape a clear vision for their future. This begins with generating options for what the future could hold; from the outcome of a small confrontation to major life decisions, such as career changes. Of course, many people assume that mentoring and supervising come with the responsibility for looking to the future, however, almost any position in leadership could benefit from generating options for the future; teachers, coaches, managers, principals… any job where key relationships are formed, and you are helping someone else to grow. 

I have found that many leaders can become overwhelmed by the nearly infinite possibilities in the future, so here are a few models that can help structure the time spent looking forward.

Part One: The CLEAR Model

There are many ways a mentor can help uncover options for their mentee. It often happens organically through conversation over time, but there are also some wonderful, more structured approaches that can really strengthen your mentee’s vision for their future, as well as their prospects for making their vision a reality. I’ve found two models that are incredibly helpful that I want to share: 

The CLEAR model: 

This model comes from Peter Hawkins, a leader in supervising helping professionals. He designed this model in the early eighties, and it still holds up today. I frequently follow this model with my own mentees and supervisees. CLEAR stands for the five steps in the process: Contract, Listening, Explore options, Action and Review.


It is always helpful to create a contract between yourself and your mentee/supervisee. This is a way to set clear boundaries, rhythms and goals from the get-go. ALSO, in every session, it’s good to set a framework for the day: How can we best use our time? What should we be focusing on? What challenges are you facing?


Clearly, mentoring revolves around actively listening to what our mentee/ supervisees are saying, but we can also listen to what happens between the words; Did they sigh and sit down? Maybe they are overwhelmed and haven’t had a chance to breathe. Is there an unusual amount of silence between thoughts? They might be distracted or uncomfortable with the subject matter.

Explore options

What are the outcomes of different options your mentee/supervisee could take? For example: They might be feeling distant from a dear friend. Ask some questions like, what could you say to someone you haven’t seen for a while and that you miss? How will that be heard by them? Why don’t you say how you feel? Could you emphasize how happy you are when you see them without seeming judgemental or accusing? 


Taking action is pivotal to the process. After weighing the options, what will your mentee/supervisee choose to do about their situation? How can they make it happen? Going back to our example, maybe they decide to have a conversation with their friend to understand why they are withdrawing. When will they talk? Where is a good place for them to meet? 


What will you as mentor/supervisor take with you from the conversation? Did it work well? What would you do differently next time? 

This model is excellent because it provides specific action steps for the supervisor. This is helpful for supervisors who like a clear and straightforward process. 

Next week we will dive into the CARE model, an alternative to the CLEAR model. For more information on the CLEAR model and Peter Hawkins work, check out:

Continue reading with these articles…

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