The funny thing about this question is that we are often too quick to assume that the client is stuck – and they are too. This means that as a coach it is important to be ready with effective questions to help the client get unstuck them self. Examples of questions include:
- If you did know the answer, what is it?
- If I were in your shoes, what advice do you have for me?
- If you ask someone else (boss, mentor, friend, colleague, family member), what will they say?
- What is a really bad idea? OK, now a mediocre idea? OK, now a good idea?
Then and only then, if the client is still stuck, does a coach ask permission to join a brainstorming session with the client. The key to this is that the coach must give multiple ideas – at least three is a good guideline. The coach shares an idea or two then asks the client for an idea or two. This process continues until lots of ideas are listed. Next the client chooses which idea or ideas they want to use moving forward. (A note: if the coach only gives one idea it is the same as giving advice.)
The process of asking powerful questions first to help the client get unstuck and then, only if appropriate, joining in brainstorming, is coaching at it’s best.