How to Be a Really Useful Coach in 5 Minutes or Less

Posted 10.20.2011

One of the jokes I sometimes make when I’m leading a workshop or giving a presentation is that being a coach is one of the greatest gigs in the world because you don’t have to know anything. All you have to do is ask questions and let the other person talk. Like most jokes there’s some truth behind the joke. Here’s why.

If you have four basic questions ready to go, you can coach anyone in five minutes or less to think through and be better prepared for the most important thing they’re going to do this week. It requires no formal experience or training as a coach. All you have to do is ask the questions, listen and ask the other person to elaborate.

Here are the questions. (Potential follow up questions are in parentheses):

1.  What’s the most important meeting or event coming up on your calendar in the next week?

2.  If that meeting or event is a complete success, what happens at the end? (What do people know, think, do, feel or believe?)

3.  How do you need to show up to make that outcome likely? (What are you going to say and how are you going to say it? What kind of energy, body language, tone of voice and demeanor do you need to demonstrate?)

4.  (What else?) This is the all purpose coaching question because it draws out the extra ideas.

That’s it. You can have a very productive coaching conversation in five minutes or less if you use those questions. I know they work because hundreds of people I’ve had coach each other in workshops tell me they work. The cool thing is that you can easily teach others how to coach you by sharing the questions with them. If you don’t have anyone available, you can coach yourself using the questions.

I often say that one of the most important things I do for my coaching clients is giving them the space to listen to themselves think. With a simple coaching approach like this one, you can get a lot of thinking and preparation packed into a short amount of time.

Give it a five minute or less try with a colleague today and let me know through a comment or tweet how it works for you.