Michael Bungay Stanier: The Art of Leadership

img_1722“Can you stay curious just a little longer and rush to questions and advice just a little bit slower?”

If you have been following my blogposts you already know about the fabulous day that I spent at The Art of Leadership conference on Friday.  Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit was a  vibrant presenter unique from the other guests, with his wild, flowered shirt and participatory style of presenting.  He got the 1600 participants up on their feet, meeting fellow conference attendees and role-playing their coaching skills.

Michael has sold over 100 000 copies of Do More Great Work and divides work into:

  • Bad – mind numbing meetings utilizing time you will never get back or dealing with emails that “grow like weeds through the cracks in the sidewalk”.
  • Good – getting the things done that are in your job description.
  • Great – the work that engages you, has meaning and impact

He had the audience divide their work into these categories on a pie graph to consider how they are spending their time each day.  He described the rat race of eating at your desk, feeling tired, working late, working at home yet not really knowing what was accomplished during the week and offered coaching as a solution to strengthen teams an do more great work!

He shared 5 practical questions that make a difference when coaching team members including:

  1. What’s on your mind?  He referred to this as the “kickstart question” which gets to the issue quickly.  It is  an open ended question and requires the coach to sit back and listen only.
  2. What’s the real challenge for you?  This question helps to focus on the real problem, not just the first one.
  3. And what else? He referred to the AWE question as the “best question in the world”.  The first issue is rarely the only issue or the biggest issue.  It stops the leader from jumping to advice.
  4. What do you want?  He encouraged the group to “be lazy” when asking this question and continue to just listen as this can be tricky for the employee to answer.
  5. How can I help? This helps to empower the employee to reflect on the specific assistance that they are looking for and ensures that the coach does not just start offering advice.

He encouraged the group to spend more time listening as the job of the coach is to help the team to learn and expanded t hat “people don’t learn when you tell them things”.  Michael’s simple but impactful coaching questions will be helpful in working with teams.  His presentation was strong and will be remembered for both content and style as he did a fabulous job getting 1600 people role playing with enthusiasm!

“Remember that if you are working really hard in a coaching conversation, something has gone wrong”

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