The Confident Coach 2: Purposeful Questions

What makes a new coach confident about their coaching approach? How does this translate into their ultimate success as business coaches?

Purposeful Questions

This is the second in a series of five articles about The Confident Coach. I thought it would be interesting to discover the factors new coaches starting out on their coaching journey report they are confident about; and how this is a predictor of their ultimate success. To do this we must track their progress over the first 18 weeks of the Coaching Master Class programme. Here’s how the programme works. After the initial training I run three coach-the-coach sessions at six week intervals. Session one focusses on the new coach’s confidence in the five key elements of the training. Session two on the business results being achieved with coaching. And session three to assess coaching capability. A couple of years ago I ran a worldwide Coaching Master Class programme for 100 top leaders. I’ve looked at my notes from coach-the-coach follow up sessions with the top 20 from this group to see what makes them ‘Confident Coaches’.

In the Coaching Master Class training I teach that asking questions is at the heart of coaching. You move from being a ‘telling’ manager to an ‘asking’ leadership coach. You develop a natural inquisitiveness. These are not casual questions, they are purposeful. You must make every question count. Each question is carefully constructed to inspire and challenge the Coachee and make progress along the GROW coaching model. Your intention as the Coach will drive the purpose and style of the questions you ask. In the G and R stage of the GROW coaching model, your intention is to raise the Coachee’s awareness. In the O and W stage of the GROW coaching model, your intention is to create Coachee responsibility.

Here is a selection of comments made by leaders during my coach-the-coach follow up sessions. They were all confident about their approach as coaches. What are the key factors for success being described here?

“Knowing about the subject and going straight to the point”.

“Throughout the session I use a combination of standard and spontaneous questions”.

“I used well prepared and structured questions which gave the coachee an opportunity to do structured thinking/explanation”.

“I believe my questions was well prepared and he took-on the responsibility”.

“Are you aware of these behaviours”, “How do you think this is seen by your colleagues or customers?” – Exploration of the issue “R”

“I had prepared a number of questions up front which allowed me to go deep on ensuring we had the reality covered in details”.

”My purposeful questions were most prevalent. I wanted the coachee to make a connection between his actions/inactions and people’s perception of him”

“I used purposeful questions to allow coachee to be aware of the current situation of his result for the service. Then challenging perception questions to allow the coachee to think of a solution instead of spoon feeding him with an answer”.

“Purposeful questions: I used ‘what you want to’ instead of ‘what you have to’ to raise awareness and create responsibility”.

“Purposeful questions. Asked: ‘What are you doing recently?’ ‘What did you do when you were a in a similar situation?’ To help her raise self-awareness. Asked: ‘What’ll you include in your work plan?’ ‘What will you start to do right away?’ To create responsibility”.

“When he described the reality and raised up relative options, I asked several purposeful questions helping him fine tune his thoughts and solutions”.


Further Reading:

Purposeful Questions

The Confident Coach 1: The GROW Coaching Model

Author: Trevor Sherman

Trevor Sherman: Author, Blogger and Coach. What do I do? I develop leadership training material and personal learning modules. I am the owner and operator of this Blog. I coach senior executives for their development and role transition. I am based in Northamptonshire UK and operate globally - in person and through technology.

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