‘It is not the answer that enlightens, but the question’ – this is a trait that great leaders and fantastic coaches have.

In coaching, asking the right questions is fundamental to help guide a coachee to the right path and solution for them. In principle, this goes against our nature of trying to directly fix.

Great coaches take a step back through active listening and a style of questioning that empowers the coachee (employee/client) to grow through self-reflection. Great coaching questions should help the coachee or employee to gain clarity and move forward through identifying a number of effective options. These questions are usually open-ended questions which help overcome styles of unhelpful thinking or limiting beliefs.

15 powerful questions that you can use with your direct reports

Situation analysis

  • What do you think of it?
  • How do you feel about it?
  • What do you think is best?

Obtaining clarification

  • Tell me more about it
  • What do you mean?
  • Can you elaborate further?

Evaluating an issue

  • What is the challenge?
  • What is the worst case scenario?
  • How can you cope with this?
  • How does this align with your objectives?

Moving forward

  • What are your options?
  • Which of your options resonates with you most?
  • Who can you ask for help?
  • Are there any resources you can tap into?
  • If I was in your situation what would you advise me to do?


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