Healthy Leaders


30 Questions Every Leader Can Ask To Become a Better Coach

Paul SohnPaul Sohn

Whether you’re a CEO, teacher, parent, project leader or any other kind of a leader, you need to know how to coach your team. The need for coaching has never been greater. Gallup’s research shows that a team that is highly engaged has double the chance of job performance and success.

First off, there are a lot of questions of what coaching entails. As a starter, here’s what coaching is not:

In “Unlocking Potential,” executive coach Michael Simpson defines coaching as the “building of relationship of trust, tapping a person’s potential, creating commitment and executing goals.”

Executive coach Marilee Adams says that life’s toughest issues are not solved by having all the answers, but by asking the right questions. Coaches who continue to ask powerful and provocative questions help individuals develop a sense of internal purpose and commitment for the long run.

Simpson suggests that powerful questions leaders ask may fall into three areas:

  1. Engaging with purpose (Opening)
  2. Advancing to commitment
  3. Obtaining commitment (Closing)

First, start to ask your questions around purpose, whether it’s the purpose of the coaching process or the purpose of the meeting:

Second, your questions should now help the individual move towards commitment. Ask questions to help him/her anticipate and address barriers to accomplishing the goal.

Third, ask questions to obtain commitment. This is where you summarize, narrow the focus, and select options and confirming next steps. Closing the conversation means that the individuals have a clear summary of what they are going to commit to.

What is your favorite question?

How will you be using these questions in your leadership?

[1] Simpson, Michael (2014). Unlocking Potential: 7 Coaching Skills That Transform Individuals, Teams & Organizations. Grand Haven, MI

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Paul Sohn