The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever

Book Review by Leo Trevino

“It’s not enough to just get things done, you have to help people do more of the work that has an impact and meaning.” – Michael Bungay Stanier

Traditionally, managing is thought of as a way to order people around and to be an act of authority. Very seldom do you have managers that take the extra effort to listen to their team, help them grow, and truly create a positive environment. When you do find these mangers, they are called leaders!

In the book The Coaching Habit, author Michael Bungay Stanier takes us on a path less traveled by traditional management theory, and through coaching and strategic “asking,” turn us into leaders on the other end.

Here are my key takeaways…

  • There is a layout of 7 key questions he asks to help facilitate a useful and meaningful coaching conversation.
  • Learn to ask only one question at a time. Don’t bombard your team with many questions. Be prepared for silence, and be prepared to rephrase the question in a way that is inviting to get your team to respond.
  • You can reduce the “heaviness” of any question by saying, “out of curiosity…”
  • Stop offering advice as a question mark attached…e.g. have you thought of? have you considered? When you have an answer, offer it as a suggestion, consideration, or option. But only after you’ve asked one of the seven essential questions.
  • Adding “for you” to questions makes it personal and not abstract.
  • Start questions with “what,” instead of “why.”
  • The goal isn’t to not give any answers but to help them find it for themselves. Avoid giving them advice or suggestions off the bat. Give them a chance to say their own solutions.
  • Give a little less advice, and a little more curiosity.

The book lays out seven essential questions that you can use to lead and coach your team. Each one can build off each other and focuses on helping your team member come to a conclusion for themselves, and at appropriate times, to give them your advice.

A teaching from a mentor of mine once told me, “if you say it, they can doubt it…if they say it, it’s true.” This book shows you how to get them to say “it,” and in a subtle way, showing people a way to help themselves.

Aside from the awesome 7 questions, the book also has “Masterclass skills” sections laid out throughout the book that enhance your ability to communicate the questions effectively.

Great read for managers, leaders, parents, anyone!

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