Whether you are a leader who wants to embrace coaching as part of your role or a professional coach wishing to improve the quality of your practice, I want to share three power tools that I extracted from a book I recently read (The Master Coach by Gregg Thompson), which resonated with my leadership-coaching experience, as well as my executive coaching practice.
- Ask Big Questions. Asking simple but challenging questions makes the person being coached (the coachee) search for answers to their problems. Even if I, as coach, have a potential solution, it is much more effective to let the coachee explore resolutions on their own. Questions that challenge and stretch their thinking are usually effective. However, ensure these questions are posed in the right way. For example, “why” questions may put the coachee on the defensive. Above all, convey a truly added-value intention behind your questions.
- Practice coaching pathways. As important and effective as questions are, there is room to add value through guidance, especially if you have decades of experience under your belt. As a coach, I am certainly not an expert on every topic I encounter in my sessions. However, I find myself recognizing familiar patterns or situations where I share insights and general direction for the coachee to explore. An example is calling out a decision, which the coachee has agreed to take but is delaying the implementation.
- Exercise conversation interventions. Notwithstanding the first two power tools, there are instances where the coach needs to jump in to help the coachee advance on the topic at hand. For example, the coachee may be interpreting certain behaviors from a colleague in a negative way. The intervention could be in the form of reframing the issue by exploring alternate hypotheses or by providing instant feedback (I usually ask for permission beforehand) on the issue being shared by the coachee.
If you want to know when and how to effectively use these power tools, it is absolutely crucial to be fully present and engaged in the conversation, especially if you are meeting by Skype or phone.