The Coaching Habit: Ask more. Speak less.

coaching leadership monetization Nov 21, 2023

What do you do when someone comes to you for advice?  How do you respond when they begin asking you questions or seeking your counsel?

For many years, I treated all such conversations essentially the same way.  When people came to me for counsel, I attempted to give them the best answers I could and as much information as possible.  When I look back at those meetings, it’s clear that I did most of the talking and very little listening.

That was a mistake, and it’s something I’ve been learning to rectify in the present.

If you’ve been reading the Platform Launchers blog, listening to our podcast, or watching us on YouTube, you’ve heard me bring up the subject of coaching in the past.  It’s a topic that I get a lot of questions about because it’s a subject that’s highly relevant to online influencers and those with a message-based platform.  For many of us, it can also be a major source of income, so we want to make sure we’re doing a quality job when we’re serving others.

Whether you’re brand new at developing your online platform or if you’ve been actively building your online business for a while, offering coaching can be a wise service to offer, and it may help you monetize your platform faster than some of the other options we regularly talk about.  But how should you coach those who seek your help?  Are there principles that we would do well to implement?

Recently, David Steininger who is a member of our online community and the founder of his own platform called “The Self-Employment Sidekick” lent me a book.  The book is called “The Coaching Habit” and it was written by Michael Bungay Stanier.  It’s a book that focuses on simplifying coaching practices to make them more effective and impactful.

(Click here to view a copy of "The Coaching Habit on Amazon)

It’s a great book, and if your schedule allows, I’d encourage you to grab a copy so you can spend some time thinking through everything he shares.  But for the sake of time today, I’d like to highlight some of the main coaching concepts the author brings to our attention in the book.

1. The Seven Essential Questions:

Stanier introduces seven powerful questions that can help coaches and managers have more meaningful conversations. These questions are designed to cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter.

2. The Coaching Habit Model:

The author emphasizes the importance of adopting a coaching habit by asking more questions and giving less advice. The goal is to empower others to find their own solutions and insights.

3. The Kickstart Question:

One of the key questions introduced in the book is the Kickstart Question: "What's on your mind?" This question encourages the individual to identify and articulate their most pressing concerns or issues.  Stanier considers this question an almost “fail safe way to start a chat that quickly turns into a real conversation.”

4. Building a Coaching Culture:

Stanier discusses the idea of creating a coaching culture within an organization, where asking questions and fostering curiosity become ingrained in the way people communicate and work together.

5. Taming the Advice Monster:

The author identifies the "Advice Monster" as the instinct to provide solutions and advice rather than allowing others to explore their own thoughts and solutions. The book provides strategies for taming this instinct and becoming a more effective coach.

6. Becoming a Better Listener:

Effective coaching requires active and empathetic listening. The book emphasizes the importance of listening with full attention and being present in the moment.  Admittedly, this is sometimes difficult for me (and most coaches).  It can be hard to sit and listen when you know you can offer counsel that may solve problems.  There’s a time for offering specific solutions, but rushing to those solutions without demonstrating empathy is almost always a mistake.

7. The AWE Question:

Another important question introduced in the book is the AWE Question: "And What Else?" This question encourages individuals to explore additional possibilities and ideas, fostering deeper thinking.  Stanier considers this question to be somewhat magical because it seems to create more wisdom, more insights, more self-awareness, and more possibilities out of thin air.

8. Strategic Questioning:

Stanier highlights the significance of asking strategic questions that lead to insight, action, and positive change. The goal is to move beyond superficial discussions and drive meaningful progress.

Overall, "The Coaching Habit" advocates a shift in mindset from providing answers to asking questions, with the belief that this approach leads to more engaged and empowered individuals within a team or organization.

Here’s a complete overview of the seven questions Stanier encourages coaches to ask:

Question 1: The Kickstart Question – What’s on your mind?

Question 2: The AWE Question – And what else?

Question 3: The Focus Question – What’s the real challenge here for you?

Question 4: The Foundation Question – What do you want?

Question 5: The Lazy Question – How can I help?

Question 6: The Strategic Question – If you are saying Yes to this, what are you saying No to?

Question 7: The Learning Question – What was most useful for you?
The Learning Question is connected to the original Kickstart Question to create what Stanier calls the “Coaching Bookends”.  He believes it’s wise to connect these questions to make sure your conversations are of the highest value possible to our clients.

Again, “The Coaching Habit” is a very well written book that has over 14,000 positive reviews on Amazon (which I think is rather impressive).  And I’m guessing it’s as popular as it is because it really does give you a metric you can use when you’re working through problems with future clients.  I recommend it highly.

© John Stange, 2023

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