Leadership Coaching Questions

Leadership coaching is a fancy term for asking questions. Some questions work well, and some work poorly. I’ve argued that the use of ‘why’ questions in the column of working poorly.

If why questions do not work, what questions are in the working well column?

“Importantly, solutions do not depend entirely on either the creativity of the [manager or coach] and/or the [team] or of the client. The source of creativity ‘lies’ in the cooperative relationship between the two subsystems. The creativity is a ‘bonus’ of their poly-ocular view or the various descriptions of the problematic situation.” – Steve de Shazer

Where Leadership Coaching Questions
  • A team member comes to you asking for guidance on prioritizing their work; of course, you have a pile of work to complete. Instead of asking a series of ‘why’ they cannot prioritize, you ask ‘where.’
Where do you find ease in managing your current workload? Identify the challenge and what’s working
Where is the simplest area to begin prioritizing? Choose a progress step to start
Where in your day do you find time,  even just a little bit, to define the strategy of your work? Discovering exceptions and seeing how they occur
Where is the work that you can complete the quickest? Re-framing progress steps
Where is the work that you can let go of? Determining what to stop doing
Where can you find who’s work it is to complete? Examining the project or work goals to determine what is needed
Where are you leveraging the work to create a greater return on your time? Understand what’s working and how to frame the next steps
Where can you complete less than perfect quality work because the goals, at this time, do not require perfection? Understanding what is needed within the work and what is too much
Where will you notice a difference when you prioritize differently? Identifying a difference to start
Where are you already seeing this difference? Using current resources to define priority
Where did that difference come from? Where can you do more of that? Decision and progress steps

Asking why will reinforce your power as a manager. However, it will not make your work any easier. Slowing down to ask a series of ‘where’ questions will enhance the team’s output, and add value to the team’s decision-making and problem-solving. All of which makes you a better leader and the team a learning team.