The Coaching Habit Book Review

Skylar Wooden and Katie Butler

January 07, 2018

“When you build a coaching habit, you can more easily break out of three vicious circles that plague our workplaces: creating over dependence, getting overwhelmed, and being disconnected.”

The Coaching Habit - Say Less, Ask More, & Change the Way You Lead Forever was a book picked up by chance. It wasn’t sought out or at the top of any must-read list; however, it should be. It may have been discovered on accident, but it will forever change the typical conversation between leaders and their employees.

The book discusses certain conversational habits that cause inefficient and ineffective coaching conversations. Those habits can be replaced with the book’s 7 questions. We’ve chosen 3:

1. The kickstart question: what’s on your mind?

When a team member enters your office, they can tend to explain small parts of various issues. With this question, ‘What’s on your mind?’, they must choose the true reason they are seeking help. This question says: Let’s talk about the thing that matters most. As a coach, you have to decide if you are “coaching for performance,” or “coaching for development.” By asking this question, you convey that you are coaching for development. “It cues reflection and sharing.” It creates a sense of mindfulness by the team and leader.

2. The focus question: what’s the real challenge here for you?

“This is the question that will help slow down the rush to action., so you spend time solving the real problem, not just the first problem. It’s no accident that it’s phrased the way it is.”

As managers and leaders, the urge to immediately solve your team’s problems is strong. It is in our nature to give advice and wisdom, and to, quite honestly, mark it off your to-do list. This creates the habit of presenting solutions. Quite possibly you are presenting solutions to the wrong problem.

By asking “What’s the real challenge here?” you are pinpointing that person’s specific problem. With this question, you effectively cut out unnecessary conversations that lead away from the issue at hand. This focus requires the person to identify the true problem. And can also lead to them solving the problem among themselves.

3. The learning question: what was most useful for you?

“There’s wisdom to be found, but only if you hang around for a moment to take a look. The Learning Question immediately frames what just happened as something that was useful and creates a moment in which to figure out what it was.”

Most people hate going to meetings because they feel as though they’re a waste of time. This question reframes the conversation and takes the, possibly presumptuous, notion that the meeting was in-fact useful. Now the person must think about why the conversation was useful.

This question asks your team to remember the “One Big Thing” that’s worth remembering. This solidifies the takeaway from the conversation or training. This question also makes it personal.

What’s on your reading list this winter?

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