One thing in life I have learned is this: there is no end to questions. And that is the best thing about living. You should be curious enough to wonder. You should be humble enough to ask questions and want to learn. And you should be sensible enough to analyze (answers). This holds true for every stage in life. As a coach, I have often come up with great coaching questions to motivate my clients.
Coaching is about building a relationship of trust with the client. Only when the client trusts you enough will you have the tools to do your job!
I had earlier penned down about 44 questions that coaches MUST ask their client. These questions help get the coaching journey started. Revisit the questions from time to time and refer to them as yardsticks by which to measure success! You can read the blog and start your coaching journey. Do reach out to me if you have more questions for me. Or want to add some more relevant questions to this list!
There is no end to the number of questions that one can ask as a coach or as a client. Hence, I have attempted to ask 5 questions below based on different life situations. The questions are meant to get you thinking. Remember there are no right or wrong answers! Each person can react to questions based on his/her life situation. The same person may have different answers to these questions at a later stage in life! Such is the power of questioning.
And if you do not have an answer to any of the questions below, I recommend:
Finding Your Own Path: Coaching questions for Yourself
If you ask me, self-discovery is always the toughest journey to undertake. Before questioning your client, you will have to answer some hard questions yourself.
- The first question is why do you want to be a coach? Is it because you are good at supporting others through their life journey? Or is it the money that is attracting you to this career?
Let’s face facts. Yes, there are good financial returns if you are a good coach. However, most coaches are drawn to this career as they believe they have a natural tendency to mentor and coach other fellow beings. The ability to make a significant difference to someone else’s personal or professional growth is a rare gift. If you have the gift, use it!
- Can coaches make enough money? Can they put their own children through college or save for their travel plans? Should you be taking up coaching full time?
Let us look at some available statistics.
Last year, The International Coach Federation revealed that there were 53,300 coaches. This has gone up from 47,500 part-time and full-time coaches worldwide in 2011.
Out of these 33% operate in the United States — which means 17,500 coaches. The estimated market value for personal coaching in the U.S was $955 million in 2015. It grew to $1.02 billion in 2016, up from $707 million in 2011.
The same body estimated that coaches have an average annual income ranging from $27,100 to $73,100. Some specialty coaches can even make over $100,000.
The market is still growing and evolving. An increasing number of organizations are waking up to the benefits of executive coaching. The need for qualified, trained and reputable coaches is on the rise. Increased awareness is driving interest whether in sports, religion, personal or business coaching. This could very easily lead to massive gains for good coaches in the market.
- Should you take up coaching full-time?
If you are starting out or changing careers, I would ask you to tread slowly. You can start coaching as a part-time option. Once you start getting more clients and build your brand, you can then quit your day job. Building a new brand takes time, commitment and passion.
Whether you take up coaching as a full-time option or not, the truth is earning could go up to a five-figure return on your investment. Find out how a simple shift in mindset helped me to grow my business here.
- How will you differentiate yourself as a coach?
There are 3 things that will help you realize the career of your dreams. These are:
- Market research. What is the gap in the market that you are attempting to fill? Is there a qualification that sets you apart? Are there others who offer the same services? How much are people willing to pay? All these questions will help you conduct a market survey for building your business.
- Critical self-assessment. What is your biggest USP? Are you an introvert or an extrovert? Do you prefer coaching in large groups or smaller, personal interactions? Who is your target client? Do you have a picture of your ideal client in mind? Which coaching category are you interested in? This depends on your area of expertise. You can choose from some coaching types and categories mentioned in the next segment.
- Training. The coaching industry is still unregulated and you do not need accreditation in order to become a coach. However, you may consider getting training. A short course will equip you with the technical skills and prepare you for upcoming challenges. Invest in yourself before you ask clients to invest in you!
- What kind of a coach should you be?
This completely depends on your aptitude and personality. In an earlier blog post on coaching styles, I have described the three types. These are Autocratic, democratic and holistic styles.
You may also want to look up different coaching categories. I have mentioned some below.
Different Coaching Types
In an earlier blog post, I have talked about 11 coaching categories. Some of them are:
- Life coaching: The name is a giveaway. This coach guides a client through whatever problems he/she may be facing. From personality development to career change, life coaches literally change people’s lives! Think of them as a general physician. They deal with every challenge.
- Wellness coaching: As I have described earlier, a wellness coach is a cross between a healthcare professional and a fitness trainer. The idea of a wellness coach is to work with a client and slowly guide them through the obstacles which make them regress into self-destructive and unhealthy behavior.
- Business coaching: Business coaches work their magic on leaders in the professional sphere. This covers helping entrepreneurs set up their own business. Or helping small and big businesses double their profits. More companies are signing up business coaches for team building as they realize the impact of coaching.
- Executive coaching: Mostly working with the top leaders, executive coaches are in high demand. Top executives benefit by working with an executive coach. The latter can give them an honest and critical analysis of habits that are no longer working in their favour.
- Career transition coaching: Have you ever lost a job or faced downsizing? You are not alone. Career coaches help people to deal with job losses or a career switch. They help boost the confidence of people at times like these.
- Relationship coaching: Before .Coach, I was a dating coach. I had my own company called “SaiFi Dating”. Relationship coaches ready people to overcome their limiting personal characteristics so that they can be ready to meet their perfect match.
- Personal development coaching: Self-development books, videos, and coaches are the hottest selling cakes in the market now. As I have said earlier, personal development coaching is similar to life coaching. They both have the same intention of enabling a person to move forward.
- Sales coaching: Every business has one parameter to measure success by revenues. Hence, sales is the driving force behind any industry and company. It is not really a surprise that big companies and salesmen are seeking the help of coaches.
There are several other types of coaching. These include religious coaching, sports coaching, etc.
Coaching Questions to Ask Your Client
There is a saying that coaches don’t provide answers. They ask great questions! In essence that is all, a coach is supposed to do.
Engaged listening and powerful questions help clients to identify their goals clearly. Powerful questions have the following effect on your clients:
- Stimulates creativity and encourages creative thinking
- Helps the client focus and channelizes his/her energy towards problem-solving
- Brings underlying assumptions and intentions to the fore
- Opens the door to change
This post makes an interesting point about the art of asking questions.
“Asking the right coaching questions means the difference between a one-way interrogation and a dynamic learning session.”
The ICF Core Coaching Competencies recommends “awareness-building questions”. These are often the core of discovery and start with: What, When, How, Who, If. I have highlighted 34 coaching questions to ask your clients in an earlier blog post.
I will only mention 5 powerful questions to ask the client in this article. I strongly recommend that you look up my earlier blog posts about questions that coaches should ask. You can find two of my related blog posts here and here.
Some of the most powerful coaching questions to ask a client are:
- What is the one thing that you would like to accomplish in our coaching together? Why is that important to you?
This is the coaching question that will help set boundaries and expectations. It will help the client clearly state what he/she is looking for during the coaching. Most importantly, it will help you understand what defines success. Look at the image below!
A coach can only provide the keys. The coachee will have to choose which key works and unlock it himself!
- Visualize your future as a successful human being in your life/business/role. If you could create the results you desired, what specifically would you like to achieve?
This coaching question helps the coachee to visualize the results. And work towards goals.
Once the vision becomes clear, people forge along on the road ahead. They are mindful of the obstacles in their path. Sometimes they need help. Limiting behaviors/mindsets could be obstacles. Overcoming these is where a coach helps.
- Why does being a good human being/leader/athlete matter to you?
Insert the coachee’s vision in the above coaching question. This question requires soul searching. It teaches a coachee the power of “feeling good”.
The feel-good factor is the most powerful motivator. It will encourage everyone to come back for more. And the coach’s role is to show him how to do that.
- What are the things holding you back from achieving your dreams? What will you do today to correct those?
Answering this coaching question is tough for everyone! Obstacles can be perceived or real. They may have been self-imposed or may actually be a result of circumstances. Removing self-constructed obstacles takes courage. This is where the role of a coach is key.
- How quickly can we understand the results from the earlier step? What is the next step?
It is important to keep evaluating progress in the path to success. Goals should be for the short-term and long-term. Only when a coachee sees the impact of corrective steps will he scale higher challenges.
These are only a few coaching questions that can be used by every coach.
This Forbes write-up has listed 16 coaching questions that coaches ask their clients as part of the coaching process.
Descriptive Phrases to Help With Coaching questions
Every once in a while you will get stuck with phrasing a coaching question or probing a client. You may have worked out boundaries with your client. But some coaching questions are bound to make them uncomfortable. And that is the point!
Self-development is bound to get messy at times. Real growth and change can only happen when there is a commitment towards self-development.
- Help me understand…
- Tell me more about that…
- Let me make sure I understand what you are saying…
- I’m curious about…
- Could you describe further…
Great Coaching questions to Ask the Coach
In these times of financial uncertainty and increased awareness of return on investment (ROI), everyone will look for value for money. The client too is entitled to asking for details about the coach. Here are some coaching questions that may be asked of coaches:
- Tell us about your credentials
Many individuals and companies are signing up for coaching with growing awareness about the benefits of coaching. However, clients will want to see a coach’s credentials and training. Industry or sector experience also helps in a number of cases. Most importantly, clients want to see if your coaching will help them reach their goals. My advice is to set your expectations according to the client’s priorities. Coaching is all about building a relationship of trust. The coachee will accept your advice more openly if you win the person’s trust.
- What is the typical coaching process?
The client is looking for answers that are direct. How much time will it take to get results? How much will it cost? Every coach may have their own process. Does a coach recommend leadership assessments or does he/she 360-degree feedback? How often would the coach and client meet or talk? What happens if the coaching relationship is not working? A good coach will customize existing processes to a client’s specific coaching needs. That is the reassurance that the client is looking for.
- What kinds of clients have you been successful with?
I have said this earlier too. Be very honest about how long you have been coaching and what kind of track record you have had with leaders. If you have a list of leaders that you have worked with previously, make this available to your prospective employer (with their consent, of course!)
Industry and sector is important in certain kinds of coaching. Think of a football coach for example. It would help if the coach has played the sport, wouldn’t it? But hard work, team spirit, managing the stress of the game are attributes common across all sports.
Coaching is a partnership and both parties deserve honesty. A client is entitled to ask coaching questions that will help him/her understand whether to enter this partnership or not.
- How do you address the lack of motivation or resistance to change?
Change is inevitable for growth. But it is a hard commitment to make and adhere to. It is even harder for leaders at the top. Resistance to change is a natural tendency. Often a good coach anticipates where and how resistance will show up. A good coach will also work with the client to address it. But trust is a vital part of this journey. Communication between the coach and coachee is therefore important at every stage.
- Do you have any coaching questions for me/us?
This is a great note on which to end any interview. The coach’s questions will give a prospective client a sense of their operational style and priorities. A prepared coach will have a list of coaching questions that help determine whether a client is a good fit for them. Or the coaching questions may bring out challenges that the coach may face later on. For example, is the client resistant to change? If so, how far would he be willing to work with the coach to make necessary changes?
Similarly, the client will also get a sense of the coach’s value system. If a process is not working, would the coach be flexible? Can a change of priorities be negotiated in the middle of a coaching process? These are all coaching questions that need to be discussed at the start of any coaching partnership.
I hope these coaching questions above will better empower you when you go out to meet your clients. Think of it like any job interview! And prepare for it accordingly.
There are several books related to coaching questions!
A simple search on Google threw up a few suggestions. You may want to go a little deeper or pick up a book from the recommendations below:
- “Coaching questions: 101 Coaching Questions for the Coach and the Coaching Client for an Empowering Coaching Session” by Randy Wayne
- “Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives” by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Laura Whitworth, and Phillip Sandahl
- “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier
- “Change Your Questions, Change Your Life: 12 Powerful Tools for Leadership, Coaching, and Life” by Marilee Adams
- “Questions for Jesus: Conversational Prayer Around Your Deepest Desires” by Tony Stoltzfus
- “Life Coaching Activities and Powerful Questions: A Life Coaching Activities Workbook” by Phyllis Reardon
- “Coaching questions: 200 Breakthrough Questions for Career and Business Mastery” by Gerald Confienza
- “Powerful questions for coaches and mentors” by David Clutterbuck
- “Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling” by Edgar Schein
My Journey to Success
And now let me tell you about my journey as a way to show that achieving success is an ongoing process. We may not build a successful business right at the start. That is the time to introspect and resurrect our business if need be.
In a previous post, I have highlighted why it is important to find a niche. Working to please everyone and target a large crowd as my clientele, I lost $100,000, and this was years ago! Then, I realized that I had something to offer that no one else at that time could think of. I could target a very niche crowd and sell them my services.
Make sure you learn from my mistakes and proceed!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
What are coaching questions?
Coaching questions are a series of open-ended inquiries often structured in a linear fashion, designed to get one to explore more deeply and gain clarity. They elicit more complex thinking and encourage reflection, self-awareness, self-actualization, and personal fulfillment.
What makes a great coaching question?
A great coaching question is one that opens up the conversation to explore the full breadth of the issue at hand, and one that avoids making value judgements about an individual’s circumstances. The goal of a coach is to help individuals discover their own answers and to empower them with the skills and knowledge to set and achieve their goals.
What is a leading question in coaching?
A leading question in coaching is a type of question with the intent to lead the interviewer in a specific direction in order to provide a definite answer. A leading question is a type of “closed question” because the question forces an interviewee to follow a particular line of thought or response.