Learn how to ask the right questions and unlock deeper conversations.
When you hear the word coach, what comes to mind? Sports? A mentor? Your manager? A teacher? At the bottom of this word is the imagery of an individual who guides, directs and motivates you to develop into an improved version of your current self. Great coaches are like magnets in that everyone wants to be around them as a result!
At work, there are dozens of opportunities to be a great coach. However, we often silo our use of the term as we focus on managers who coach their direct reports. While this isn’t inaccurate, we are missing out on how we can also appropriately coach our peers to increase the collective effectiveness of our work.
So, what makes a great coach? The answer to this question creates a laundry list of items and might include things such as a great coach…
- understands the business;
- is personally eager to learn;
- shares knowledge with others;
- inspires and motivates others;
- builds relationships with relative ease;
- leads by example; and
One of the most important qualities of a great coach, that is not listed above, is the ability to engage in active listening that results in asking great questions. Questions have the power to hijack our thoughts and put our unconscious mind to work. They stir our imaginations and help us to imagine new possible scenarios. They activate brain chemicals that can create motivation to go find the answer and can help get us “unstuck” from a current pattern of behavior or thought process that is not working. Ultimately, they have the power to increase action in others.
It is for these reasons that great coaches understand how to ask great questions. Independent of if we are coaching peers, or coaching our direct reports, the type of questions we ask can either halt all progress, or invite the receiver into the discussion, closer to the “fire” of the issue at hand and deepen relationships.