These are notes from a training around “the coaching habit” I recently took. The training is itself around the eponym book by Michael Bungay Stanier. I haven’t read the book, but the training was great and I recommend it if you can get it.

Book cover


Stay curious a little bit longer, rush to action a little bit slower

~ Michael Bungay Stanier, The Coaching Habit

There are tons of opportunities in daily life to be coach-like. Make it a habit.

Create the habit by telling yourself “When this happens” “instead of” “I will”

Use the 7 questions to structure coaching. Use the 3Ps to dig. Use the Bookend to be impactful


What’s coaching

Coaching: stay curious a little bit longer, rush to action a little bit slower

Discussions can be around:

  • Evaluation (confirm accountability and verify forward motion)
  • Feedback (something’s wrong or right)
  • Teaching (up the learning curve)
  • Mentoring (own scars)
  • Coaching


  • Goal - challenge to be addressed - what’s on your mind
  • Reality of the situation - what is the real challenge
  • Options and strategy - how can I help
  • Way forward - what will you do

Coaching has outcomes on both P and PC1 (business perf, better team)

Principles: Be lazy (let other people fix things, don’t jump on it), Be curious (growth mindset), Be often (every interaction with someone can be coach-like)

What coaching is:

  • Doesn’t have to fix something
  • Doesn’t have to be long
  • Not an additional activity but a different way of doing something


(stay curious, try it out even if it’s not natural)

  1. Kickstart - What’s on you mind. a. Lazy: Open handed, let them do the job (go to the topic).
  2. AWE - And what else. a. Lazy: lets them come with next topic b. Self management tool: forces you to stay curious c. The first challenge is never the real challenge
  3. Focus - What’s the real challenge here for you a. P/PC (“for you”) b. Be specific to the person’s challenge rather than the team
  4. Foundation - What do you want a. Ask with curiosity b. Hard to answer
  5. Strategic - What am I going to say yes to, and if I say yes to that what must I say no to? a. Active choice explicit b. Opportunity cost c. Tackle sense of overwhelm
  6. Lazy - How can I help a. Don’t take assumption on how you can help / don’t be condescending. b. Force the other person to be clear on what they are asking c. Can be used answering to answer long, unclear emails.
  7. Learning - What was most useful for you? a. Reflect on what happened b. Figure the value and learn something from it. c. Helps turning any interaction into positive - find usefulness d. Ask for actual feedback rather than generic “was that useful” e. Don’t hesitate to ask in the middle of conversation to re-focus, and know what’s working.

These are just a toolbox to help be more coachlike.

  • Creating habits: “when this happens” “Instead of” “I will”
    • Practice using one question at a time
  • Every interaction can be an opportunity to be coach-like
  • Coaching is not adapted to every occasion, sometimes teaching, or giving feedback is the better tool.
    • What is important is to just “stay curious a little bit longer”
    • Use coaching in addition to these (e.g. give feedback then coach through it)

How to ask a question:

  • One question at a time
  • Don’t give advice - Slow down the rush to give advise (give oriented questions)
  • Culture has context (e.g. North Americans say I, Europeans say we)
  • Frame with “out of curiosity”
  • Revert questions as a coach (what solutions do you have to do blerh -> hmm, let me ask you first: what drives your inspiration)
  • Be supportive
  • Use silence
  • Interrupt

“I don’t know”

  • But if you had to take a guess?
  • What if you knew?
  • What if …?

Being coach-like

Being more coach-like vs. preparing for coaching

  • What questions will they ask. vs what questions will I ask
  • Cut the intro and the smalltalk, go to action right away: ask the question
  • Don’t jump into a problem, be more curious and continue asking questions
  • → remember being more coach-like is not to say never give advice, never offer up options or ideas or solutions. It’s to say slow down.
  • “The seduction of going into the first challenge” → Make sure you are solving the right challenge by validating first.
  • Have the list ready

Accountability questions:

  • What are you gonna do? What are the first steps?
  • By when?
  • What does success look like (how do we know you’re done)?
  • How will you let me know?
  • What are the consequences if you don’t get this done?

Taming the advice monster

  • “I need to have the answer” advice monster
    • Practice the 7 questions and notice how often they have the same or better answer as you.
  • “I need to rescue them” advice monster
    • The price they pay is: don’t get to be the more creative and the one that saved the situation
    • Let them do the work, let them break the dependency on you.
    • Why am I jumping in? Let them fix it. Why am I fixing it?
      • Be lazy!
    • Sometimes people just need to be heard!
  • “I need to stay in control”
    • Empowerment is giving control away. When coaching, you give a bit of your control
    • But it’s worth it.

What’s in it for you?

  • Coaching is about business performance AND culture / nurturing people (P AND P/C)
  • People become more self-sufficient
  • People succeeding without being overly dependent on you
  • → gives you more freedom to work on your own performance

The challenge is usually on one of the 3Ps of focus:

  • Immediate: Project: what’s the thing that needs to be fixed.
  • Underlying: People: tackle relationships issues
  • Long-term: Patterns of behavior: what’s the pattern that the person keep exhibiting
  • → use this framework to identify the underlying issue.

Tricks to nurture:

  • Add the words “For you” at the end of questions to add the “nurturing” side to coaching.
  • Start fast, finish strong
    • Kick start: “What’s on your mind”
    • Learning question to finish strong: “What was useful for you”

Leadership behaviors

  • 6 leadership behaviors that you (From “Leadership that gets results” or here)
    • Coercive: force people with threats
    • Authoritative: make clear how people’s work fit it
    • Affiliative: keep people happy, create harmony
    • Democratic: increase flexibility and responsibility
    • Pacesetting: set high standards, obsessed by better and faster
    • Coaching: help people identify strength
  • Coaching doesn’t mean to get rid of the rest, it’s not always the answer

Use silence. Sit with it, wait.

  • People might need the silence to reflect
  • Wait a little bit longer, be lazy.

Some occasions to coach:

  • Customer meeting debrief
  • 1:1
  • After giving feedback

Sometimes you just have 10 minutes to coach and the person doesn’t stop talking

  • Interrupt them if they go on a tangent
  • “I’m sorry I’m just gonna interrupt you there”. I’m gonna stop you there. I’m sorry for interrupting but I have to ask you this question
  • Then 7 questions. Default: What’s the real challenge for you

Build trust: be genuinely curious and on the person’s side.

  • Non genuine:
    • Fake questions: advice with a question mark.
      • Give advice as actual advice
    • Fake listening: having a train of thought rather than actually listening
      • Really pay attention, be present

Coaching practice:

  • Use the 7 questions
  • Practice one question at a time
  • Use the 3 P’s: Project, People, Pattern of behavior
  • Add “For you” at the end of the question
  • Tame the advice monster
  • Use the bookend (start quick (whats on your mind), finish strong (what was useful for you)
  • Don’t panic. You give up control on the conversation, persist.

Mastery & final tricks


  • Start questions with what, rather than why (gather more information rather than give advice)
  • Is this question about helping them, or me?
  • When someone asks a particular: “how do I do X” -> reverse: “what’s the first idea you have to do that”, then “what else”
  • Don’t summarize the specifics, summarize the emotional state instead “sounds like you have a lot going on”
  • Fierce Love. Have the courage, don’t give up, help them. Keep asking, change questions, come back to it. Don’t give it.
    • Patience
    • Persistence

Preparing quickly:

  • What’s on their mind? What will they be interested in?
  • Which of the 3P might be the most relevant?
  • What question will I use?
  • What advice monster will show up?


  1. from the 7 habits - Production / Production Capacity.