Empowering Others Through Questions


October 4, 2018

Empowering Others through Questions

Professional Coaching Skills for Leaders

Written by: Delia O’Connor-Highfield, Consultant & Executive Coach

There is a time and place for everything. Managing, mentoring, consulting and counseling all have their place and are distinct from the field of professional coaching.  Professional coaching is both a mindset and a practice.  It is not limited to professional coaches who work one on one in longer-term engagements with leaders.  Coaching tools can be used “moment to moment” in the workplace, by most anyone.

Coaching is the translation of insight into meaningful action in order to realize potential.  (Cylient)

A coaching approach is inherently empowering.   Empowerment is the process of an individual enabling himself to take action and control work and decision-making in autonomous ways.  Empowerment comes from the individual.  Coaching allows the individual to self-direct their learning and action steps.   Here are a few suggestions for getting started:

Coaching Tips for Leaders at all Levels

  1. Coaching Focus:
  • On the person you are coaching (not the problem) in order to support their insights (not yours). Once insight is achieved, support them into taking new action steps.
  1. Coaching Mindset:
  • Listening: genuinely listening to the person with an open mind. Understanding the situation from their perspective and listening deeply so that you hear the heart of the situation.
  • Curiosity: asking questions with a curious mindset, continually exploring and learning. Not asking questions from an expert perspective or from having the ‘right’ answer.
  • Presence: You have to be present to effectively coach. Commit to putting everything aside (physically and mentally) for the moments you are in a coaching conversation.
  • Appreciative tone: Valuing, recognizing, and affirming what is already working, the best in others, their strengths, etc
  1. Coaching Practice:
  • Identify: Consider when a coaching approach is needed.  For example:
    • Something is not getting done or moving forward
    • Complaining or making excuses
    • Have a unique challenge
    • Readiness for new challenge or development
  • Questions: use questions that promote reflection and insight such as:
    • What does success look like?
    • What are you trying to accomplish?
    • What is holding you back?
    • What do you think matters most to the other person?
    • How can you be a positive influence in the situation
  • Continue asking insightful questions, or share an observation or even a personal story that supports the learning for the person you are coaching.
  • Taking Action: what action step is possible from the new awareness? Ask them: Based on this conversation, ‘what do you see as the next step for you to         take?’   Or if an action step is not evident, ask them ‘what do you need to reflect on or to learn that would bring more clarity?’The best way to learn is by doing it!  Join us at Belmont’s Center for Executive Education for one-day hands on application of coaching skills in the workplace by attending a Coaching in the Moment Workshop!