Coaching Story | Leaders Ask Active and Engaging Questions

It’s refreshing when a professional reaches out and asks for help during a period of career growth - for executive coaching. Since this has happened quite a bit this month, Marshall Goldsmith and Mark Reiter’s terrific coaching book, Triggers, came to mind. You may have heard of Marshall before, he’s a really good coach and he’s been doing it at a very high level for decades.

Powerful and lasting growth usually requires objective evaluation and structured coaching. Notice that evaluation and coaching are different forms of feedback. A common example of objective evaluation is a 360 review with inputs from different groups such as peers, direct reports, supervisors, in addition to ourselves.

Triggers was written in part, because we all have many internal triggers that hold us back, especially when receiving feedback. So, how can we think, in a general sense, about how to overcome all of these internal switches we usually aren’t aware of?

Chapters Nine and Ten, The Power of Active Questions & The Engaging Questions, form the heart of Triggers, with numerous engaging coaching stories.  Goldsmith reflects when people are asked passive questions; they almost invariably provide “environmental” answers, often allowing a diversion from needed accountability. As a remedy, four magic moves are mentioned, which trigger decent behavior in others: Apologizing, Asking for help, Optimism, and asking active questions. Active questions can’t be answered with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no,’ and the better we know someone, the better questions we may ask. Here’s an example: 

“Tell me something important to you that would allow me
to help you become more successful and happier?”

Now let’s introduce Goldsmith’s six engaging questions:

Did I do my best to set clear goals today?
Did I do my best to make progress toward my goals today?
Did I do my best to find meaning today?
Did I do my best to be happy today?
Did I do my best to build positive relationships today?
Did I do my best to be fully engaged today?

Notice that each of these questions challenge us, daily, to do good, or to be choinque. They trigger good behavior. We can call this self coaching. 

Good leaders coach others, and themselves. Leaders ask active and engaging questions.