Coaching is not giving advice, it’s helping others solve their own problems. Use the following questions and approaches to help folks find their own solutions and insights.

Ask these 7 questions to coach

  • Open: What’s on your mind?
  • Expand: What Else?
  • Focus Problem: What’s the real challenge here for you?
  • Focus Need: What do you want?
    • Do not ask why, it makes people defensive - you’re question their ability by asking why.
    • Want vs Need
  • Focus Request: How can I help?
  • Focus Trade off: If you say yes to this, what will you have to say no to?
    • Omission - automatic no
    • Commission - what you must deliberately give up to make it happen (relationships/projects/)
  • Close the loop: What was most useful for you in this conversation?

How to coaching for task completion vs insight

  • P: Project - Immediate task
  • P: People - Relationship
  • PC: Pattern - Help person get better.

How to coach to build strategic insight

  • What does success mean?
  • What is our scope (who/where)
  • What will be our differentiator/moat here?
  • What capabilities/assets will need to achieve this?
  • How do we measure success and provide feedback?

How to keep people safe while coaching using human safety models


  • Tribe: Tribe, ‘us’ vs ‘them’ - be us.
  • Certainty: People dislike ambiguity/uncertainty.
  • Rank: Do I move up or down the social ladder
  • Autonomy: I have control

SCARF - More details in Search inside yourself - Leadership and social skills

  • Status: Where am I in the pecking order
    • BUILD: Give credit, and feedback, ups peoples status
  • Certainty: Do I know what what’s going on.
    • Build: removing ambiguity, and giving people certainty on things that matter.
  • Autonomy: Do I have control over the situation?
    • Build: making clear it’s people’s choice, not yours.
  • Relatedness: Is other person friend or foe.
    • Build: by taking time to know people.
  • Fairness:
    • Build: making clear that you’re being fair.

Soften your coaching: How Can I help

  • Out of curiosity
  • Just so I know
  • To help my understand better
  • To make sure I’m clear

SCARF Model: Fairness People will injure themselves to ensure fairness.

Deflecting the desire for you to solve their problem: How would you handle this

Great question, I have some ideas, but first, how would you tackle this? What else?

Saying No: Say yes slowly

  • Why are you asking me?
  • Whom else have you asked?
  • What you say urgent what do you mean?
  • What does done mean?
  • If I could only do one part, what part would you have me do?
  • What do you recommend I take off my plate to get this done?want done? If you still have to say no Make sure you’re saying no to task, no to person. Just writing it down will help.*