Coaching Mastery with Noelle Cordeaux, CEO of Lumia, is a special edition of the Everything Life Coaching Podcast. Explore transformative coaching concepts, tried-and-true methodologies, and powerful insights from the frontline of the professional coaching field. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!
The joy of coaching is in asking powerful questions and creating a unique space for taking action and pursuing goals. All of the wonderful outcomes associated with a close coaching relationship come directly from the questions that power your coaching session.
The number one thing that coaches and aspiring coaches really need to internalize is that you are not there to give your clients the answers, but rather, to help them discover answers for themselves. To do this effectively, you need to use questions – good questions, powerful questions that will provoke thought, shift some feelings around, and help your client gain insight.
Today we will tackle seven great questions and the context around what makes them great.
Coaching Mastery: 7 Powerful Questions for Coaching Clients
Setting The Agreement
"What makes this important as your goal for our coaching conversation today? What is important about it now?"
Rooted in the International Coaching Federation (ICF) standards, this question sets the stage in two parts. It's about establishing the framework of the coach-client relationship and setting the tone for the session.
Part one is the contract with our client that governs the purpose of the engagement and all of the ground rules between coach and client
Part two of the coaching agreement takes place at the beginning of each session. The coach must ask the client what the focus of the session is about and that question must be followed by a second question to gauge motivation - why this, why now?
The positioning of this question sets up the work of the session, putting the client in the driver's seat and also the motivational context for coach and client. By understanding the client's focus and motivation, we empower them to take the lead in their journey.
Highlighting The Gap
"Where are you today in relation to this goal; is there anyone else involved?"
This question leads the client towards a check-in on their current situation. We can’t know how far we have to go and what it will take unless we highlight the gap our client is facing between their present and their desired future.
The second part of this question checks in on additional stakeholders - sometimes your client is not the only person who needs to be involved in reaching (or knowing about) a goal. Knowing who is involved is important information for both coach and client!
"What are some options you have in this situation?"
Every crossroad offers multiple pathways and many different paths to get to where you’re going. The Life Design framework suggests that we always have between five to seven viable paths. This question prompts clients to dream without boundaries and consider every potential action or outcome.
Options can be action steps, or they could be potential outcomes themselves. It is a fun exercise to dream in every direction with your client and see what comes up – often these solutions can be unusual and thought provoking.
"On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to follow through with this action?"
Referred to as a scaling question, this evaluates a client's readiness. Numbers 7 or above indicate a strong commitment, and a readiness to take action and pursue their goal. But, anything below a 7 may showcase that they’re not quite ready to commit and gives you an opportunity to revisit why they may have hesitation around making a change. Remember, your client is in charge of their own life and they make the final decisions around what to work on and when!
Reflecting and Committing
"What do you take away from our conversation today; are there any action steps you would like to commit to?"
It is a standard ICF practice to wrap up a session with reflection. Not only to ensure that everyone is on a similar page and has a shared understanding of what has occurred, but also to solidify with clients as they commit to tangible actions, no matter how small they might seem.
It is an additional standard to invite the client to commit to an action. Remember actions can be thinking about something, living with an idea, learning something, observing, noticing and so many other things that invite growth – not only “doing” something.
"Can you tell me more about this?"
True coaching goes beneath the surface. It can be tempting to stay in the realm of what is easy and obvious, but instead of rushing towards committing to a course of agreed-upon action, it's often valuable to probe further.
A deeper cut of coaching is to use all of your senses as a coach to check in and see if you really have enough information to truly and deeply understand the client.
When you move past the obvious, you’re gently nudging your client to deeply consider what they are thinking and feeling. Often, it’s only after we explore the underlying narrative that we discover the real insights that can guide our actions.
Dreaming Without Limits
"Would you like to explore this dream and see if it’s a real possibility?"
Dreams often remain hidden in the shadows, and as humans we can get so focused on viable solutions we stop dreaming big or thinking about what’s possible. As coaches, we have the privilege of bringing those dreams into the light, exploring them and reminding our clients that their dreams are valid and good. Once our clients have pushed into their expanded view of their future, we can begin to work with them to see the possible paths to making their dreams a reality.
In essence, these questions aren't just tools in your coaching toolbox; they are gateways to transformation. When asked correctly and given careful consideration, they can open doors to self-discovery, challenge assumptions, and inspire action.
Think about how these questions can be effectively integrated into your coaching sessions. Because in the world of coaching, questions are so much more than merely the starting point – they're catalysts for real change
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