LCL’s 5 Tips For Leaders To Ask The Right Coaching Questions
As an entrepreneur, trainer, or any kind of business leader, you know that smart coaching is essential for improving your team’s communication, enhancing employee performance and engagement, and attracting the best new talents. One of the biggest challenges when coaching your team or clients is ensuring the learning process happens with the recipient at the centre, not the coach. The coachee must be asked effective questions in order for you and your business to feel the benefits of a true “Coaching Culture”.
Take a typical, uninspired training session as an example, where the “coach” is speaking and everyone else is just listening, usually with little meaningful interaction. The attendees may pick up some interesting one-way information, but how much are they actually learning about themselves and how to improve their habits and methods? To coach productively for your business, you need to ask the right questions of your team members, and this is where Leaders Create Leaders (LCL), based in Vietnam’s Ho Chi Minh City, truly excel.
Saigon’s LCL emphasises and trains the importance of questions in coaching
In many education systems around the world, and commonly in LCL’s home continent of Asia, the learning emphasis is on extracting knowledge from the teacher, who is usually expected to give instructions and provide all the necessary information to the students. Similarly, in many workplaces, line managers have traditionally often been rewarded for focusing on giving orders, with questions being viewed as a lack of knowledge or understanding. In fact, the opposite is true - as LCL understands, asking effective questions when coaching allows your team to realise that positive transformation has to start in their own minds.
Working out of Vietnam’s energetic city of Saigon, LCL is made up of passionate and successful coaches who allow you, as a leader, to bring out the full potential in yourself, your team and clients, and your business. Through their superb Leadership Coaching Program, LCL shows leaders how to ask great questions, as well developing a host of other coaching techniques to raise your team to the next level. Here are five fantastic tips from LCL on how to ask the right questions as a coach:
LCL Tip #1: Simple Questions = Clear Answers
It’s often tempting to bombard your coachee with as much information as possible before posing a question, with the aim of providing context and improving understanding. Sometimes, we also like to use extra and lengthy words, in order to seem more impressive and knowledgeable. However, although the intention is well-meaning, this is more likely to lead to confusion and a lack of clarity in what you are actually asking of them.
Try to keep your questions as short as possible by going straight to the heart of what you are looking for. One way to do this is to trim your question of any non-essential words, while of course keeping the meaning and good grammar. So, instead of: “In terms of your capabilities when working as part of a team, what do you consider to be your main contributions, and what aspects do you struggle with?”, we can easily cut this down to: “What are your strengths and weaknesses as a team player?”. With the much simpler, revised question, your team member can focus solely on what is required of them, which should lead to a clearer and better answer.
LCL Tip #2: Leading Questions Are Less Meaningful
In the area of coaching, the main usefulness of questions should be to allow the coachee to unlock insights themselves without being spoon fed the answers too easily. Leading questions, which are questions that push the respondent towards a particular answer, are much less helpful in coaching, since they reduce the need for the coachee to think for themselves. Leading questions are often used to give advice in a less direct way, however clarity is key in coaching, so this is not a productive method in this arena.
Instead, as a coach, you should focus on questions that don’t point to a particular answer, but actually let the coachee find their own answer independently (regardless of whether it’s the answer you’re looking for). An example of a leading question might be: “How important do you consider empathy in order to be an effective team member?”. This can be improved by asking: “What personal qualities are necessary to be an effective team member?”. Now, the coachee needs to come up with the answers from within themselves, which will be much more revealing and useful to you, the coach.
LCL Tip #3: Ask the Question, then BE QUIET
It’s all too easy to ask a question which actually turns into two or three questions before an answer has even been given. It’s a habit that can be quite difficult to break, but a concerted effort is required to only pose one question at a time, otherwise the coachee can become overwhelmed and muddled. Keep to one main point and force yourself to stop after each question and wait for an answer. We often ask more than one question at a time to fill a gap of awkward silence, however this leads to the same problem of confusion. Learn to embrace a silent pause; using soft body language and a friendly facial expression, you can help the coachee feel more comfortable as they seek an answer.
LCL Tip #4: Truly Listen in The Moment
Speaking of body language, we can sometimes get too caught up into trying to read all the movements and expressions of people that we are, or should be, listening to. Either that, or perhaps we as coaches can try too hard to display a variety of well-known body language, rather than just listening. However, this can be distracting for both you and the person responding; instead of deciphering every bit of body language or giving off too much of your own, focus on the answer that is being given. This will allow you to take in the response with your full attention, so you can act on it in the most effective way. Also, block out any unrelated thoughts that may pop into your head, such as a problem with another team member or what you need to buy from the supermarket later - these are just more obstructions to you understanding your coachee.
LCL Tip #5: Follow Up To Dig Deeper
While it’s important not to ask more than one question in the same breath, as mentioned, it is also crucial to follow up with further questions once an answer has been given. It is quite rare that your coachee will provide all the information you are seeking in one answer to one question. Listen carefully and pose follow up questions that will get more context from the answers or uncover details that haven’t yet been offered. In many cases, your team members need help to get to the centre of the issue, and that is your job. In general, try to avoid closed questions (with yes/no answers) and use “Wh-” questions to open up the coachee. For example, “What else can you tell me about that?”, “Why do you think that issue is so important?”, or “How could you improve that situation?”. These questions will help to get under the surface and reveal your team members’ real thoughts for you to act on effectively.
Improve Your Coaching Questions with LCL’s Leadership Coaching Program: 22nd March - 24th March 2019
Helping leaders, managers, and trainers to ask effective questions is just one aspect of the LCL Leadership Coaching Program, which will help you create the most productive “Coaching Culture” for your business.
The next LCL Leadership Coaching Program will take place at the 5-star Caravelle Saigon hotel from Friday 22nd March to Sunday 24th March 2019. Places on LCL’s programs are highly sought after and limited, so register as soon as possible to guarantee your spot.
Registration on the Leadership Coaching Program includes:
• 3-day intensive leadership coaching workshop with five essential modules, delivered by LCL’s exceptional team of coaches
• Six tea breaks and three buffet lunches at the exclusive Caravelle Saigon during the workshop
• Post-workshop “homework” to put your new coaching culture knowledge into practice
• 1-year membership of the LCL Business Network of inspiring leaders
• Monthly Think Tank Sharing meetings with the LCL Business Network
• Potentially unlimited peer coaching opportunities with other forward-thinking leaders from the LCL Business Network
The fee for registration is USD1,200 for all of the above benefits. Groups of three leaders registering together on the program will pay just USD800 each.
If you are ready to learn how to ask the right questions and create an exceptional coaching culture in your workplace in which you and your team can thrive, then the LCL Leadership Coaching Program in Saigon is a must. Register today and reach the full potential of your business leadership abilities.
Image source: Leaders Create Leaders