Executive Coaching Questions, Part I

How to define the coaching goals and ensure a solid contract.

In this first blog post on Executive Coaching Questions, I’d like to review some common questions that you can use at the beginning of your coaching conversation to define the coaching goals and establish a clear coaching contract. Future posts will focus on the questions that can be used in later parts of the conversation.

Before I start, I’d like to point out an important aspect of questions that is sometimes missed. Coaching questions are different from information gathering – questions such as “Where do you live?” or “What time is it?” In fact, coaches rarely use questions for the purpose of gathering information about the client. Instead, coaching questions are used as a catalyst for discovery and change. For that reason, they can be very powerful and strategic.

Review the questions below and discover the power of Coaching Questions for yourself. It helps to try them out on yourself or others.

Question Potential use
What’s on your mind? What do you want to focus on today? Open a conversation with your coachee without restricting him or her to a specific answer.
At the end of this conversation, how would you know that our time together was worth your while? Define a “measure of success” for the process. Coaching is about delivering results and this question helps you ensure clarity on what matters most to your client.
What about this do you want to change/improve? Oftentimes, people talk in generalities. This question will allow you to narrow the conversation down to something specific and that both of you can work on.
If you could have anything you wanted, what would that be? Help your coachee get rid of their mental roadblocks by imagining a world free of obstacles. Sometimes this is the first step to realizing the solution!
What would you be doing differently if your problem had suddenly vanished? A variation of the question above. Exploring a world where the problem isn’t there allows your client to review strengths and solutions.
Can you tell me more specifically or give me an example of how you would be doing what you want (e.g., listening more, acting more confident, managing your time better)? Help your coachee review exactly what he/she could be doing more/less of. This question starts shaping the conversation towards finding a solution.


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