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Find Better Answers – Ask Better Questions

We ask questions to learn. When a coach asks questions, it’s to help others:

  1. Learn about themselves.
  2. Expand their potential.
  3. Find their path forward.
  4. Deliver results.
  5. Enhance their fulfillment. (Most important.)

Curiosity has a darkside.

The darkside of questions:

  1. Making a person feel like they are being interrogated. Sincere curiosity may feel pushy.
  2. Leading people to your conclusions. When you “know” the solution for another person’s issue, you ask questions that suggest the “right” answer.
  3. Concern over motive. I’ve had people ask, “What are you after,” when I was simply being curious. People may wonder if you’re trying to find fault or weakness in them.

Ask better questions if you want better answers.

Better questions:

Coaching-managers ask questions that lead to fulfillment, energy, and performance.

  1. Give space and opportunity for coachees to learn about themselves.
  2. Provide opportunity to reflect on their journey.
  3. Make people feel important.
  4. Connect. The first “not good” in the creation story is, “It is not good for man to be alone.”
  5. Create situational learning moments.
  6. Consider next steps.

The first word of better questions:

  1. What?
  2. How?
  3. When?
  4. Who?
  5. Not why? Why is often a distraction in coaching sessions. Even when exploring purpose, “What’s important about that,” is more useful than, “Why is that important?”

Strengths more than weakness:

The temptation to dig into weaknesses, shortcomings, and faults invites people to talk negatively about themselves. It better to focus on strengths, even when dealing with weaknesses.

  1. How have you succeeded in other situations?
  2. How might that relate to this situation?
  3. How have you worked through challenges in the past?
  4. What outcome would you like to achieve?
  5. What’s the first imperfect step toward your desired outcome?

How might leaders begin asking better questions?


I’m delighted to partner with Clarity Development Consulting to offer the proven “Coaching for Engagement” program. Drop me an email if you’d like to explore having Bob Hancox and me come to your organization to develop the coaching skills of your team.

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