Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change Your Leadership Style Forever is a book by Michael Bungey Stanyer. You’ll love the exceptional practicality of the Coaching Habit tool. It offers seven questions for executives to help them change their approach to leadership. The Coaching Habit book is a great place to start creating coaching habits because it focuses on simplicity and habit formation.

This is not a book about how to work as a professional coach. The focus is on teaching managers basic coaching techniques. The 7 Phases of Habit Coaching is ideal for managers who are looking for a simple, doable strategy for getting started in coaching.

The Coaching Habit: Why Create It?

Coaching can help you provide more effective support to your colleagues and coworkers. That’s what behavior change is all about in this book: asking people questions more often, rather than telling them what to do. To encourage and inspire their employees without becoming a bottleneck, busy managers must find creative solutions. Using a coaching strategy will help your team members become more resourceful. Three vicious cycles can be broken with coaching:

  • Over-reliance on management;
  • Being overwhelmed by requests;
  • Losing touch with your team.

Although coaching is not a new topic for managers, it is still underutilized. Coaching should be a daily, informal activity, not a one-time thing. This coaching is aimed at helping the person trying to solve the problem, not just focusing on the problem itself.

Developing a new habit is as simple as identifying your trigger, what you do when it happens, and trying to identify a new behavior. Don’t give up, start with simpler and easier things. Every time we do something new, we encounter resistance as we step outside our comfort zone. Remember that you are not only getting rid of a bad habit, you are replacing it with a good one.

You will be presented with seven powerful questions that you can use to get rid of the tendency to talk more than listen, to give advice, and to want to help immediately. Use one question at a time, always! We don’t want to overwhelm people with too many questions.

The Coaching Habit Questions

It’s important to remember that The Coaching Habit questions are designed to disrupt your habitual patterns of response, feedback, or action. So, the first thing you can ask when someone asks you to share a situation and ask for your opinion:

1. The Kickstart Question What’s on your mind?

The fact that managers don’t know where to start is one of the reasons they don’t coach more often than they do. This is the first question you have to ask to melt the ice and start the conversation. You’re not lecturing them or guiding them. It’s a direct, more open-ended questioning that allows the respondent to express what’s most important to them. Moreover, it radiates confidence, allowing people to say whatever they want.

The topic of discussion can be the three P’s: projects, people, or (behavioral) patterns.

Projects: any issues related to the content itself.
People: any issues with colleagues, bosses, colleagues from other departments, clients or customers.
Patterns: if there’s a method, you’re in your own way and presenting yourself in a bad way.

One of these three will be the answer to your question about what the interlocutor is thinking, and then you can steer the conversation in that direction. By listening to him, you’ll have a general idea of what’s going on and you’ll be able to help.

2. The AWE Question: And what else?

The first or only response someone offers you is rarely the best. The simplest and fastest approach to discovering new information, opening up new avenues, and digging deeper is to ask, And what else?

With a question, And what else? Once more, you pass the ball to the other while resisting the need to speak. Both will be able to see further than what has been noted thus far once they have heard a bit more. So it’s not that you won’t ever be able to give advice or respond to questions, but you should do it at the right moment and in the proper way to avoid giving replies that are ineffectual or, in some cases, less insightful than the question itself.

3. Focus question: What is the real challenge for you?

Here’s another question The Coaching Habit can ask to help you break the habit of answering questions as soon as you’re asked them: What is the real challenge for you?

It’s important to keep your attention on the person you’re talking to and avoid abstractions and generalizations. By adding “for you” at the end of the query, you can shift attention without distracting from the main point.

Answers to the first two questions are likely to start a conversation and encourage you to share information. However, they probably don’t illuminate the real issue. With this prompt, you can pinpoint the main problem that needs to be solved.

Concentrate on the main issue rather than the secondary issue.

People often go from topic to topic during coaching conversations. There often seems to be a story behind the story, which is another common sentiment. By getting to the heart of the issue, this question helps bring clarity.

When someone discusses a topic that concerns someone else, you should pay attention to it. Use this inquiry to move the conversation to the person you are training. You can only train the person in front of you, and this is a very important fact to understand.

When you ask this question, you may be tempted to immediately answer, “Why is this important to you? Try as much as possible to avoid questions that focus on reasons.

You make people defensive. If you happen to use a tone that deviates even slightly, your ” Why…? ” will sound more like “What the hell were you thinking?” From that point on, things go downhill.
You start thinking about problem solving. To solve it, you need more information. Wanting more information, you wonder why. Suddenly you go back to your habit.

Whenever possible, give preference to “What” questions over “Why” questions.

4 The fundamental question: What do you want?

Question 4 The coaching habit allows people to be more articulate, which improves interaction and decision-making. This may seem like a simple question, but how often have you thought about what you want? The answer turns out to be much more complicated when someone else asks. We often lack the clarity necessary to ask for what we sincerely desire, lack the courage to do it or experience unlimited possibilities when we do.

It is quite possible that people may not be able to fully express their desires. So managers can use this direct question to help people express their desires. The answers must be listened to patiently by managers.

Geth used to be silent in response to this question. Hold your tongue and avoid talking into the void. Though unpleasant, it makes room for knowledge and understanding.

Recognize the distinction between wants and needs when people express their desires. The most basic requests are wants. Needs are deeper, and identifying them helps you understand the more human factor behind desire.

5. The lazy question: How can I help?

This question is lazy because you don’t have to come up with a solution; it forces the other person to offer one. It is excellent in two ways:

First, it forces the other person to express their desires directly
Second, it holds back their willingness to go to the rescue without knowing exactly what to do

6. Strategic question: If you say yes to this, what are you saying no to?

Rather than rushing into the fray from half a word, this question prompts the interlocutor to think about whether he or she is ready to make a decision. We have to go back to the 3Ps (projects, personas and process) from the book “The Coaching Habit” in order to make intelligent decisions. What would you like to change?


What meetings will you no longer attend?
What projects do you need to stop or postpone?

Persons (People).

What connections will you allow to break down, people?
What expectations do you have to control?

Process (Patterns).

What self-destructive behaviors do you need to get rid of?
What habits do you need to change?

7. Learning Question: What has been most helpful to you?

As a leader, you want your team members to develop, do their jobs, and reach their full potential. The last question again brings up the topic of listening to each other. Telling someone about something is not going to help them learn it. They start to learn and form new brain pathways until they have a chance to remember and think about what happened.

The last coaching Habit question (What was most helpful to you?)-is a powerful and inspiring way to end the discussion. By ending the conversation on such a helpful note, you help people see and then reinforce what they learned during the conversation and increase the likelihood that they will remember the event positively.
Conclusion Coaching habits: talk less, ask more

The 7 questions about coaching habits cover most situations a manager might find themselves in. A manager needs to develop new behaviors to be a good coach. At first you will find it awkward and difficult to ask rather than tell. Coaching should be a daily, informal activity. Remember:

  • Listening is more important than talking.
  • Allow the other to express his or her vision of what he or she needs or wants
  • Control your willingness to be quick to give your opinion or advice
  • Encourage the other to think and reflect: Just because you have a theory on an issue doesn’t mean it’s correct.
  • To avoid tackling the problem piecemeal, try to see the situation as a whole