7 Questions to get started with Coaching

My thoughts on why coaching matters — inspired by the 7 Questions from the “Coaching Habit” by Michael Bungay Stanier

Aditya Barrela
2 min readSep 3, 2018

I had been fortunate enough to be coached by many extraordinary coaches for free of cost, that too in times when I needed it most and when I couldn’t afford it. I believe my coaches and mentors have paid it forward for me. And through this article and a few that would follow, I seek to empower emerging coaches to keep paying it forward!

Amongst its many wonderful applications, coaching can successfully bring coachees out of a very common multi-contextual problem of decision-paralysis.

Coaching done right can create clarity and empower people with the will to act.

Clarity and the will to act are an absolute necessity in the context of this VUCA world that with live in. Coaching expands the coachee’s situational awareness and helps tap into one’s creativity and wisdom.

“Without a good question, a good answer has no place to go.” — Clayton M. Christensen

1. The KICK-START Question
“Whats on your mind? “
This question always gets the conversation started fast and deep.

2. The AWE question
“And what else?”
This question is the quickest and easiest question to uncover and create new possibilities. It allows us to zoom out and have a larger view on the situation at hand.

3. The FOCUS question
What’s the Real Challenge Here for You?
This is a great question to ask right after we zoom out and obtained multiple perspectives on the situation at hand. With this question, we learn to stop spending so much time and effort solving the wrong problem.

4. The FOUNDATION question
What do you want?
“Helps you notice the wants or the needs.”

5. The LAZY question
“How can I help?”
This question maybe unconventional in a strictly coaching scenario. But it will make you more useful in case you are coaching a colleague who reports to you, and allows you to get more things done by doing less.

6. The STRATEGY question
“If You’re Saying Yes to This, What Are You Saying No To?”
This is a crucial question to ask in any context and probe into. Because the essence of strategy is choosing what not to do.

7. The LEARNING Question
“What was most useful for you?”
The question helps create the space for people to recognise their own sources of knowledge/information/strengths. The question also helps with uncovering ones own blindspots and recognizing ones personal oversights.

With the right intentions, a non-judgemental attitude, appreciative inquiry and compassionate listening, coaching is a profound way to unlock your coachee’s potential.

So, Happy coaching !
- Aditya Barrela



Aditya Barrela

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