Recently I read Michael Bungay Stanier’s “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever“. I learned the 7 Questions To Ask for making a far more significant impact. I feel fortunate that the universe put this book in my Kindle library. It fits in particularly well with one of my main interests, community-based organisations. I say this because the diversity of volunteers in community organisations can often be more of a challenge for management, leadership and coaching than in a for-profit organisation. Volunteers don’t have the same concerns about promotions and pay raises held by employees.
The questions Michael posits as the basis for coaching are excellent. They shift the focus from the leader to the person being coached or assisted. (I’m not a big fan of the term “follower”, but you can use it if you wish.) So let me review the questions here and add my thoughts as well. The seven questions are as follows:-
Remember that this is a conversation. It needs to be natural, or it will come across as insincere. The person you are speaking with may well become defensive and uncomfortable. So be yourself and make it a conversation and not an interrogation.
Ask All Questions In An Open Manner
Question number 2, “And What Else”, is an excellent example to use in this case. You might conceivably use your own language and say, “Is there anything else?”. The problem here is that someone can answer with a simple Yes or No. If people say Yes, you can continue the conversation, but if they say No, perhaps you haven’t dug deep enough. So, keep an eye on your language and ask questions that involve a considered response.
Reframe If You Wish
As I mentioned above about being natural and conversational, it can be helpful to reframe questions. Doing so may clarify the question for people to be clear on what you are asking. Questions 4 and 5 are great examples of questions you could reframe to suit the circumstances. For example, “What do you want?” could become, “What result are you looking for here?” or “What does the solution look like to you?”. “How can I help?” could well become “What does my help look like to you?”. I’m sure you get the idea.
The Coaching Habit is undoubtedly a fantastic book with some excellent insights into conducting a coaching conversation in an impactful manner. Questions and curiosity are paramount in any conversation, and we don’t use them often enough. I know it is undoubtedly an issue that I have personally and will be working on from this time forward. Either way, I recommend getting Michael’s book and reading it yourself. As for me, I am now onto his next book, “The Advice Trap”, and I have also pre-ordered his latest book, “How To Begin”.