Being a coach has everything to do with stellar communication.

It starts by meeting someone where they are, and not speaking to them as though they should know more than they do. Non-judgmental language is crucial to coach-style leadership.

From there coaching is about asking the right questions. Many executives lean toward a pointed-style of questioning that can be intimidating.

Questions like, ‘Didn’t you say this would be done last week?’ or ‘Why did you do it that way?’ quickly put people on the defensive. Instead of learning, your employees will be plotting a fast escape from the conversation.

Conversely, coaches ask non-blaming, open-ended questions, even when they’re frustrated. The take emotion out of the equation and guide a calm, clear conversation.

Coaching questions sound like:

  • What's the status on your project?
  • Can you talk me through how you arrived at this decision?
  • What might you do differently next time?
  • What support do you need from me to meet this deadline?

Tone of voice weighs heavily into coaching. An accusatory or annoyed tone will ruin the most beautifully worded question. So process your emotions before or after conversations with employees, not during.

Lisa Martin, PCC

About Lisa Martin, PCC

I help high achievers – people like you – Lead + Live Better™. I support new and seasoned leaders to gain the clarity and confidence to work more effectively and have more impact. And I equip organizations with leadership development programs which cultivate amazing leaders at every level.


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