4 Questions that Will Change the Way You Lead
Adapted from article by Justin Bariso, in Inc.com, 4/27/16 See full article
As Bill Gates himself says: “Everybody needs a coach.” Professional athletes all have at least one coach even when they are one of the highest ranked.
Why do so many business leaders believe that they don’t need coaching or that they don’t need to coach their own managers and leaders? If you are leading a team, it is vital that you coach them in order to improve their skills.
How to begin a coaching session:
There are lots of questions that you can ask. Use the BIG 4 to get you started.
1. What’s on your mind?
Michael Bungay Stanier1 calls this “the kickstart question”–a fail-safe way to start a chat that quickly turns into a real conversation. “Because it’s open, he states,” it invites people to…share what’s important to them. You’re not telling them or guiding them. You’re showing them the trust and granting them the autonomy to make the choice for themselves.”
“It’s a question that says, let’s talk about the thing that matters most.”
2. And what else?
Stanier calls this simple, three-word question “the best coaching question in the world”. “With seemingly no effort,” he says, “it creates more wisdom, more insights, more self-awareness, and more possibilities.”
It keeps us from offering advice before we understand the full issue at hand.
3. What’s the real challenge here for you?
This slows down the rush to action, so that you and your manager spend time solving the real problem, as opposed to the first problem.
Concentrate on the what matters most.
4. What…? (as opposed to “why”) Depending on your tone, “Why” can easily put others on the defensive. Additionally, it can imply that you’re seeking details because you want to “fix the problem”.
“What” reframes the issue. For example, instead of “Why did you do that?”, ask “What were you hoping for here?” Instead of “Why did you think this was a good idea?” ask “What made you choose this course of action?”
Remember: Like any skill, learning to ask the right questions requires practice.
As you get better, you’ll increase your ability to lead, coach, and guide others. Work to build a “culture of coaching” in your organization, and you’ll see the benefits of talking less–and asking more.
Ann Meacham is president of Leadership Dynamics. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org
Check out her Leadership Coaching Program
1The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier
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