This week I read a book called The Coaching Habit - Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. While the title might be a mouthful, the book itself was a quick, easy and insightful read.

While I’m not a ‘coach’ there are certainly areas in my professional and personal life where behaving more coach like would be beneficial. 

The overall message of the book is to stay curious a little longer, and rush to action and advice giving a little more slowly.

This is easier said than done but luckily there are 7 simple questions that can be used to help tame your ‘Advice Monster’. 

The ‘Advice Monster’ is this overwhelming urge that most of us have to solve the problem or answer the question that has been presented to us. It's instinctive and so ingrained that sometimes we even start to answer the question in our mind before the person asking the question has even finished talking. 

I know that in my personal life I’m WAY more likely to just sort something out myself rather than help the kid/husband in question solve the problem for themselves. It seems like the quickest way to resolve the problem but in reality it's causing two larger issues.

Firstly it's bad for you - when you stop what you’re doing to ‘help’ someone else you're likely to eventually find yourself getting overwhelmed. You're doing your job and part of some else's. It encourages a cycle of the ‘question asker’ not bothering to solve the problem themselves because you’ll do it for them. This is so obvious in kids...

Scenario 1: 

‘Mum, can you put my shoes on please’ 
‘You can do it yourself please Frank’
‘But Muuuuum, I CAN’T’
‘Frank, you did it the other day, come on mate’ 
‘Jesus Frank! come here, I’ll do it myself’ (mum puts on shoes)

Secondly, it takes the power away from the ‘question asker’. When you solve a problem for someone you slowly start chipping away at their confidence and ability to answer the question themselves. As a leader you want to help your team/colleagues/kids learn, improve and grow.

This is when the 7 questions I mentioned earlier come into play - instead of answering the question or solving the problem yourself you can use these questions as stepping stones to reach a solution together. It’s the difference between a yes/no answer or a valuable and useful conversation. The outcome may even be the same but you're giving space for the problem to be solved by the other person. 

Scenario 2:

‘Mum, can you put my shoes on please’ 
‘You can do it yourself please Frank’
‘But Muuuuum, I CAN’T’
‘Ok mate, what's happening here’
‘I can’t get my foot in the shoe’
‘Why do you think that is?’
‘The straps done up?’
‘Yep, how do we fix it?’
‘Undo the strap?’
(Frank undoes the velcro and wiggles them onto his feet)
‘MUM, I did it!!’
‘Yes, you are amazing, now off you go!’
(Franks runs off merrily, his shoes on the wrong feet but he doesn’t care so neither to do I)

The 7 questions in The Coaching Habit aren’t complicated - they aim to encourage and create space to generate knowledge and find the solution yourself. When you work through the solution yourself you are more likely to retain that information than if you were just given the answer. 

It’s empowering. It creates confidence that increases and encourages self sufficiency. 

While this book is slightly off topic for me this week I really recommend it to anyone who leads or manages a team. Or has kids.

Video of the Week
How to tame your Advice Monster | Michael Bungay Stanier
Podcast of the week
Stop Giving Advice, Ask More Questions — with Michael Bungay Stanier
Font of the Week
Less Sans: Font of the week designed by Wassim Awadallah

Please sign up for my weekly newsletter. No spam, just a weekly summary about what's been on my mind.

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.