Archive for 2016

Empowering Questions for the Coach-Centric Leader

August 3rd, 2016 • by Laura Scott •

puzzle peicesWhen I do workshops on Coach-Centric Leadership, we spend a lot of time crafting empowering questions that leaders can use with their teams to empower, engage, and problem solve.

The most challenging thing about this is that sometimes the most empowering questions require that you “play dumb.” When I’m doing a 1:1 meeting with the client I will preface these questions by saying, “Permit me to ask a really dumb question…”

The magic of these “dumb” questions is that they challenge all the assumptions that we are making about what is “true” or possible, we challenge the status quo, and we gain valuable information that otherwise we wouldn’t have uncovered using more direct close-ended questions.

All the best empowering questions start with “What” or “How.” Questions that start with the word “Why” often will put people on the defensive and a person in defensive mode will typically retaliate, clam up, or start to finger point. None of which is good.

I invite you to think about how you can craft four or five open-ended questions starting with “What” or “How” you can have at the ready for those times when you really want to investigate the truth and co-create solutions with your team.

Here’s an example of three empowering questions that I like to use :

“What would be one baby step that you could make this week that would make you feel proud and accomplished and put you closer towards that goal?”

“What are the unknowables that are getting in the way of us moving forward?”

“How might we craft a solution where everybody wins?”

As a coach who has worked with many of the top leaders in a variety of industries, I likely have an answer to all of these questions, but they are flawed, because they are my answers and not my clients.

It’s my job as a coach to empower my clients to craft their own solutions based on their skills, knowledge, and values. The only way I can do that is to shut up and ask the empowering question. And in doing so I learn so much more about my client and what is possible for them and their organizations. The same holds true for the leader. If we can set aside what we know and be curious, we can challenge all of the assumptions, we can exploit the wisdom in the room, and engage and empower others as solution partners.

What Do Coaches Do?

April 5th, 2016 • by Laura Scott • 2 Comments

what do coaches do graphic
At a recent Central Florida chapter meeting of the International Coaches Federation, our table topic question was, “How do you clearly and succinctly describe what you do, so that others fully understand what coaching is?”

The coaches in the room were a diverse group of life or wellness coaches, executive and leadership coaches, business coaches, and career coaches and the responses to this question were similarly diverse, as each type of coach serves their clients in different ways. Here’s a summary of the responses to the question “What do coaches do?”
In general, coaches can help us:
• connect the dots
• be our authentic selves
• take us from good to great
• create a personal brand
• come to the right table
• discover what we really want in life
• find the answers from within ourselves
• get us from where we are, to where we want to be
• be more accountable to ourselves and others
• formulate goals aligned with values
• play nice in the sandbox

The second question we addressed was “What are the most significant barriers that we, as individual coaches, face in educating the general public about the profession of coaching?”

We agreed that the biggest barrier was a lack of education around what coaching really is. A number of coaches recalled clients who had confused psychotherapy or counseling with coaching. Some clients ask for a coach but they really want a consultant — someone to tell them what to do.

Also, in some corporate environments, coaching is perceived as punitive; the perception being that if you’re assigned a coach this is your last chance to clean up your act before they show you the door. However the reality is quite the opposite as the majority of companies utilize coaching to develop their high potential leaders to ready them for the next level of leadership, and to help supervisors and executives develop customized professional leadership plans and to help them achieve their developmental goals.

In my personal experience as an executive coach, I find my clients truly value the confidential space that the professional coach creates and honors. They also appreciate an objective sounding board and the empowering questions that lead them to greater insights into what they really want to achieve, and why. The goal is often to help the client achieve intrinsic motivation vs. external motivation, so that the energy for change or develop comes from the clients’ genuine desire for continuous improvement and well-being.

If you engage with a coach and they start telling you what you need to do, move on. That person is not a coach. The ICF definition coaching is: Partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.

Through extensive training, certified coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. Unlike most other forms of personal development, coaches seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client.

The underlying belief is that the client is whole, naturally creative and resourceful.

Accessing your “Mad Genius”

March 10th, 2016 • by Laura Scott •

science labRecently, I was on the phone, doing a debrief on an Energy Leadership assessment and asked the respondent how she was expressing her Level 6 energy–the energy of genius thinking and the creative flow state. She responded, “I know intuitively what to do and say, like I am psychic. I am using my intuition but I know I am right.”

After our call, I reflected on what she had said and recalled the times when I was able to totally trust my intuition and access my “mad genius.” You likely have had this experience: You are alone with your thoughts, perhaps on a walk, or in the shower, or leaning back in your chair with your eyes closed, puzzling out a problem, and BAM! a flash of insight comes to you, or a ridiculously perfect idea, and a smile plays on your lips and you feel an immediate need to act or decide, Damn the naysayers!

In this state you feel joy and synergy. You may be getting goose bumps, a tingling sensation, or feeling like there’s butterflies in your stomach. But strangely, NO FEAR!

There is no wrong decision at Level Six because the journey is more important than the destination; everything is happening for a reason; you are accessing wisdom you never even knew you had. You are giddy with excitement!

If this state is something you can only dream about, allow me to make some suggestions on how you might access this level six energy and tap into the mad genius state.

1) Suspend judgment and just ask “What if…?”

2) Breathe into the “What if?” question and wait for a moment

3) Imagine one perfect scenario and then another, and another

4) Smile and open your palms as if you are getting ready to accept a gift of precious gems or gold coins

5) Acknowledge that there are no mistakes

6) Invite the mad genius into your world and collaborate with him, and play and laugh