My 10 Favorite Questions for Coaching & Leadership

adam and asherWhy? What is that? Why? Can I have that? Why? Why? Why? My son, Asher, is almost 2.5 years old and the questions are endless. He’s adorable. And persistent! Takes after his father.

Questions hold a lot of power, both in what you are asking, how you are asking, and how you are answering them. Are you asking powerful enough questions? Are the questions you are asking yourself or others moving your business forward or helping your team self-discover and accomplish their goals? They should be.

My 10 Favorite Questions: 

  1. Who do you need to be in order to live the life you desire? 
    Don’t just ask this question once, ask it over and over again. Ask yourself and ask your team. If you envision your life as an entrepreneur, running a coaching business from a beach in Florida, then are you being that person? Does your calendar reflect your priorities and goals? If you want to be an exceptional parent, are you being one? If not, what can you do differently? Are you actively making choices that take you closer to your goal each day?
  2. What questions are people asking you? 
    I love this one! Think about all the questions people come to you with. Hallie, my Chief of Staff, has said this for years. Not many people ask her out for drinks or to go to go to parties, but former bosses, colleagues, family members, and friends all reach out to her for career advice, resume reviews, business questions, book recommendations, etc. Now what do you think she is known for? What are you known for? Just think about the questions people are asking you and you’ll know. Don’t like the answer? Take a good hard look at your activities and start making some changes.
  3. What am I missing?
    This is one I ask myself every day. Whether it’s trying to tackle a problem from another angle or when there is a leadership challenge in my organization. It gets me to stop and reconsider what other solutions there might be. Ask your team this one too – What are you missing? And when they answer, continue to dig deeper. Okay, what else are you missing? And then get into an action plan from there.
  4. Who can do this? 
    I love leverage and ideas. So, in order to make all my ideas happen, I need other people to do them. My first thought when a new idea crosses my mind or someone on my team wants to implement a new initiative is, “Great! Who can do this?” If you are not yet in position where you can completely delegate, then ask, “Who can help with this?” This gets you into the habit of delegating, going to an expert, and ultimately implementing a project or idea faster.
  5. What action are you going to take? When are you going to do it by?
    Ideas and self-discovery only take you so far. You must get into action. These are great questions to ask a team member to get them out of their head and into an action plan. The key is to set a deadline and then follow up. It is a waste of everyone’s time and a slap in the face to someone to ask them to track their results and then never follow-up.
  6. Do you mind if I explore and coach a little bit here?
    This is such a critical question, especially when you are in a new coaching or employer-employee relationship. As a self-proclaimed master, genius, world-class problem solver, my modus-operendi is to just jump in and start dispensing advice and solutions. Not always the best way to go. You must get their buy-in first. In this case, you do want to ask for permission first (so you won’t need forgiveness later), and yes, you must wait for the answer.
  7. Who do you know that I should know? 
    Killer question. My mission is to surround myself with the best people on the planet, so I ask this question of those people I respect and admire. You would be surprised how many times I hear, “Oh, yeah, you should meet ________; I don’t know why I haven’t introduced you before.” Bottom line, just ask. You’ll meet a lot of amazing people this way and be able to build your bench of talent that much quicker.
  8. What if you changed your story? 
    Everyone has a story about themselves. Some are inspiring. And some are crippling. For example (and you may have heard a version of this story before), two brothers grew up with an alcoholic father. One struggled with addiction his whole life, in and out of rehab, divorced twice, in debt, and eventually landed in jail. The other brother, married, had 3 beautiful kids, and ran a successful restaurant franchise. When asked how they ended up where they were, they both answered, “My father.” Now, what story do you think they each told themselves? Pretty powerful. What story are you telling yourself? And what would happened if you changed it? Forgot the labels you have given yourself or others have bestowed upon. You have the power to write whatever story you want. So what’s it going to be?
  9. Is this a skills issue or a commitment issue?
    When someone is not meeting their goals, I like to pull out this question. It usually comes down to two issues – skills or commitment. And 99% of the time, it’s not skills. The person usually has the skills, is working on them, or knows where to learn them. It’s usually an issue of commitment. Not being committed enough to their goal, which usually translates to not wanting to do the work required to reach that goal. A skills issue I can coach through; a commitment issue, not so much. Someone either wants it or they don’t. I can’t want someone’s success more then they do. This question is a good way to get that person to self-discover that either the goal needs readjustment to something they are more motivated to achieve or that another position might be a better fit.
  10. What else can we do? 
    There is always a way. If something is not working, if we not meeting our company goals – what else can we do? It is so critical to come from a solutions-based and abundance mindset. This goes for your relationships as well. If you’re planning a client event, ask yourself, what else can you do to wow them. Or what else can you do to show your partner how much you appreciate them. There is always a solution or a way to improve the status quo. Ask yourself, ask your team, and you will find the answer you were looking for.

Bonus Question: What’s the ONE thing you can do such that by doing it everything else would be easier or unnecessary? That question is just pure genius. If you haven’t read The ONE Thing – go read it. Now.

“Quality questions create a quality life. Successful people ask better questions, and as a result, they get better answers.” – Tony Robbins

We’re always one question away from a breakthrough. What is that question for you or for someone you are coaching/leading?


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