Effective coaching is about helping clients come to their own answers. Powerful, thought-providing questions can be the key to unlocking self-awareness. An effective coach does not “fix” the client or the issue; moreover, the coach helps the client develop skills, tools, and processes to resolve problems and accomplish goals independently.
The book Change Your Questions, Change Your Life by Marlee Adams, Ph.D., offers an insightful way to move from a “Judger” mentality to a “Learner” mentality. In an entertaining story-telling format, we see the main character move from Judger to Learner in work and personal life scenarios.
How can you spot a Judger mentality? Here are some common questions a Judger may ask:
- Whose fault is it?
- What is wrong with them/me?
- Why bother?
In contrast, here are some questions a Learner may ask:
- What can I learn?
- What do I want for myself/others?
- What are my choices?
Notice the tone difference. The Judger is full of blame; the Learner is full of hope.
Throughout the book, the author peppers in many self-reflection questions to help move us from Judger to Learner. Laid out in Tool 10 are “the Top 12 Questions for Success.” Here are some that I’ve started to use more regularly in my coaching practice:
- What assumptions are you making?
- What are you responsible for?
- What might you be missing/not seeing or avoiding?
- How else can you think about this situation?
- What can you learn from this situation?
At the end of the day, as leaders, we will be more successful if we engage with curious listening than when we merely give direction.
What curiosities do you have that will make you a better leader?
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