Coaching is about supporting someone identify and get clear on what’s happening in their life, explore what they wish to do, and help them create paths and accountability to get there.
This feels very action based right? As such it might lead the focus of sessions to become entrenched in exploring what the ICF calls the ‘what’. That is, what is bringing someone to a coaching session? What is it that they genuinely desire? What is it that could be getting in the way?
Of course, understanding the ‘what’ is critical and important to know. This ‘what’ has to be clear, particularly as part of the agreements for the session or the programme.
Questions that help a client explore their ‘what’ can include:
- What is it that you you wish to achieve
- What is it that you want to do outside of this session?
- How is it that you wish to behave?
- What is important to you?
- What feelings do you want to create?
- How do you think you will achieve this?
However, focusing too strongly on the ‘what’ can lead to a missed opportunity. A lot of the times the client does not only want to understand the ‘what’, but also the ‘who’. Some might say that this is the difference between transactional and transformational coaching; transactional coaching focusing on the ‘what’, whilst transformational coaching addressing the ‘who’.
Asking questions about the ‘who’ means that you are focusing on the whole of your client – their full experience, who they are, deep meaning and their true self.
Questions that help a client explore their ‘who’ can include:
- What’s your motivation to achieve this?
- What do you think this is saying about you?
- What are you learning about yourself through our discussion?
- What are some of your observations?
- What values do you think this shows?
- What are you noticing in you?
- Are there any changes that you can see/feel?
Notice that there is a relationship between What and Who questions (and that they don’t all start with What or Who!) However, ‘who’ questions are more about the coachee themselves – they encourage the client to dig a bit deeper.
In sessions try and balance the two and be playful with these. But also remember that at times a client might only want to explore the ‘what’. For example, when a client needs to make a quick decision or if there is something they have been procrastinating on. Perhaps, in this scenario a more transactional, action-based, ‘what’ questioning can be the catalyst for change.
Are you looking for a Coach Mentor? Perhaps you are in the process of applying for your ACC or PCC application?
We have number of bespoke mentoring programmes to help you get there. Our mentoring is available on a 1-1 basis or as a group. We also offer mentoring on your coaching sessions through observations. Get in touch if you’d like to find out more.