michael bungay stanier

ockquote>Talk less and ask more.

Your advice is not as good
As you think it is.

MICHAEL BUNGAY STANIER

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@jessicadonahue

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Leadership

The Coaching Habit

by Michael Bungay Stanier

MORE IDEAS FROM THE BOOK

The Coaching Habit: The AWE Question

“And what else?”

Ask this question more than once. Stanier says he typically asks it at least three times, and rarely more than 5 times. “As a general rule, people ask this question too few times rather than too many,” he says.

This question slows you down and holds you back from giving advice too soon. Too many leaders are quick to jump into problem-solving mode.

While this might feel helpful to you in the moment, it doesn’t teach your team members how to solve problems for themselves.

Feedback is backward-looking and corrective. It doesn’t allow for exploration or possibility.


Coaching is preparative. It involves less telling and more questioning.

“What’s the real challenge here for you?”

When we jump into problem-solving before we have a complete understanding of the issue from the employee’s point of view, we tend to solve the part of the problem that we assume they are struggling with which may or may not be accurate.

By asking this question, you’ll get a clear picture of the precise element that your team member is struggling with. 

Now, you’re ready to help them explore their options to achieve better outcomes.

"What's on your mind?"

This question is open enough that it grants your team member autonomy to guide the conversation whichever way they’d like, while also being focused on cutting right to the chase and getting after what matters most to them.


Once they’ve shared what’s on their mind, simply say, “So, there are three sides of [insert problem] that we can look at here — people, project, or patterns. Where do you want to start?”

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RELATED IDEAS

A Zen Parable
There was a man riding on a horse. When a man walking on the road asks him where he is going, the rider replies, “Why are you asking me? You should ask the horse.”

The horse represents our emotional lives. We let the 'horse' take us to where it wants it to take us, especially if we feel afraid, nervous, etc. But little did we know that we have control. You begin to have influence on your horse once you master your emotions.

zapier.com

Focuses on helping another person learn in ways that let him or her keep growing afterward. 

Its purpose is to increase effectiveness, broaden thinking, identify strengths and set and achieve challenging goals.

It is based on asking rather than telling, on provoking thought rather than giving directions and on holding a person accountable for his or her goals.

Habit tracking

Is a simple and effective thing to do if you want to stick with a habit for good. No matter the format (calendar, journal, app), it provides immediate evidence whether you are making progress or need to change course.

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