Karen Darrin

Multiple research studies show that coaching can improve individual performance and bottom-line results. Therefore, it’s worth the effort to build coaching into your role as a leader and see greater productivity, engagement, and accountability in your team as a result.

The Coaching Habit:  Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier is a great read for leaders. He outlines how to ask the right questions, which builds curiosity and then gets the most out of a coaching conversation.

Stanier states there are three vicious circles that plague our workplaces – creating over-dependence, getting overwhelmed, and becoming disconnected.

    1. Creating Overdependence — You may find that you have become part of an overdependent team – resulting in being a bottleneck in the system. Additionally, the more you help people, the more they seem to need your help.
    2. Getting Overwhelmed — You may be overwhelmed with the quantity of work, pulled in different directions by proliferating priorities, distracted by emails and meetings and losing focus.
    3. Becoming Disconnected — You may be disconnected from the work that matters. The more we do work that has no real purpose, the less engaged and less motivated we are.

Building a coaching habit will help the team to become more self-sufficient, be more focused and reconnect to the work that has an impact as well as meaning.

The essence of coaching lies in helping others unlock their potential. People don’t really learn when you tell them something – they don’t really learn when they do something. They start learning, start creating neural pathways only when they have a chance to recall and reflect on what just happened.

Stanier’s Seven Essential Coaching Questions:

  1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind?”
  2. The AWE Question: “And what else?”
  3. The Focus Question: “What’s the real challenge here for you?”
  4. The Foundation Question: “What do you want?”
  5. The Lazy Question: “How can I help?”
  6. The Strategic Question: “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”
  7. The Learning Question: “What was most useful to you about this conversation?”

“When we’re in Rescuer mode,” Stanier explains, “we’re constantly leaping in to solve problems, jumping in to offer advice, taking over responsibilities that others should rightfully keep for themselves. We do it with good intentions . . . [but there’s] the price that’s being paid by both sides. You’re exhausted – and they’re irritated.”

Staying out of advice mode and instead using one of the essential coaching questions allows the ownership and accountability for solving the problem to stay with the person who has the issue. It’s win-win because they feel more empowered to solve it on their own and you can get back to your own to-do list.

If these Seven Essential Coaching Questions are part of your management repertoire and everyday conversations, you will work less hard, you will have more impact and boost your career. The real secret sauce is to build a habit of being curious – find your own questions and build your own coaching habit.

CALL TO ACTION:  Do you want to improve your coaching skills? Let’s brainstorm some strategies to try. Slot a complimentary 30-min consult here:  Schedule Free Consult.


Sign up for more weekly wisdom hereKaren Darrin Blog and receive a free gift, “How to Create Meaning in Your Life.”