It is common knowledge that being able to coach those around us is an extremely important aspect of personal development… but knowing the practical steps to become better coaches is not common knowledge!
We have so many different definitions of coaching – but, for the purpose of this post, the definition I will use is one made famous by Sir John Witmore (He is the great mind behind the GROW coaching model).
He said coaching is:
“Helping people learn rather than teaching them.”
I personally love this definition, as it removes the need for the coach to provide the solution. The easy thing to do when coaching (and the biggest mistake) is to provide the person you are coaching with lots of your ideas and opinions.
What Sir John Witmore’s definition does, is allow the coach to understand it is okay to hold off giving their opinion just that little bit longer, by asking good questions and discovering real opportunities.
If this definition of coaching resonates with you, then I can help you become a better coach.
Before we get to the detail, here is some really simple advice, that will help you no matter what your definition of coaching is:
Pick a good question to ask. Ask it. Just once. Shut up. Put all your energy into listening.
You might look at this list and think that it is over simplistic, but the truth of the matter is most coaches don’t stick to these principles! Yes they are simple, but they are also powerful – Apply these principles to your coaching and watch how impactful and productive your coaching sessions become!
I promised the best coaching questions in the world -Here they are, with a brief explanation as to why they will accelerate your coaching to the next level when you apply them pro-actively:
What’s on your mind?
It is a simple question and incredibly easy to ask – so why does it make it into the best ever list?
It is because this question hands over power to the person you are coaching. It is their agenda, it is their autonomy. It says to them, ‘talk to me about the stuff that is important to you’
If you genuinely want to see the biggest improvements in peoples performance, focus on the important stuff… The important stuff is their decision, not yours!
And what else?
Do not underestimate the power of this question!!! I can completely understand you reading that and thinking ‘what on earth? how is that a great question?’.
Here is why:
- The first answer someone gives is never the only answer.
- The first answer is rarely the best answer.
- This question expands the original answer to a much deeper level.
- This question makes the person being coached do the work, so helping them learn rather than teaching.
If you are saying ‘Yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘No’ to?
If ‘and what else?’ gets the person to think deeper, then this question gets the person to think wider. This is a great strategic question and what it does is re-frame the situation in the person’s mind. I like to think of it as allowing the person being coached to step out of the immediate situation and review the bigger picture for themselves.
By doing this, we ensure that the person being coached is focused on the right elements longer-term.
I understand you don’t know. If you did know, what would you say?
It can only ever be asked when the last thing said was ‘I don’t know’, but in those circumstances this is my favourite ever question. When you first read or hear the question, I think it sounds crazy… but it works.
In that moment, when the person you’re coaching says “I don’t know”, it is so easy to jump in with advice – don’t! Ask this question instead. The science behind it is, our brains are smart enough to answer any question it is asked, as long as you eliminate any pre-conceptions.
What this question does is allow the pre-conception that they don’t know to be accepted and then asks a question framed in a way that creates pathways to new answers.
Try it and this is what will happen. They will have a strange laugh, they will think for a moment and then they will answer the question.
What was the most valuable aspect of todays discussion?
This question is great to enable a clear review, refine the focus and add a feel good factor to a coaching session. What every coach wants is there to be a good action plan at the end of each session, this question reinforces the learning from the session and creates the framework of what actions need to be taken to move forward in performance.
Those are what I think are the best coaching questions in the world ever. They have worked wonders for me and hopefully can add value to your coaching sessions too.
Do you agree with the questions here? Or do you think they are a load of rubbish and know of some better questions?
Whatever your opinion, let me know in the comment box… it is good to share!