Leadership Coaching 101: Ask Powerful Questions

by | Individual & Team Performance

The modern workplace culture demands many coaching skills from our leaders. Few skills are more powerful than being able to ask the right question.

Asking a great question is like an art form. The question needs to be inquisitive enough so you can gather the information you need, but carefully worded so you don’t offend the other person or put them on the defensive.

So how can we do this? With a formula for creating a powerful question!

Let’s take a deep dive into what a powerful question is, why they’re important, and some tips on how to craft them yourself.

What is a Powerful Question?

Powerful questions are questions that are worded and asked in a way that prompts the person you’re asking to look inward for resolutions to their unique situations.

A powerful question will often require some thought to answer and the impact of the question can sometimes be quite profound.

What is the main reason you ask Powerful Questions?

Asking powerful questions allows you to get a true understanding of how your coachee is feeling about certain scenarios and understand what is truly needed for their personal development.

If the questions you ask aren’t powerful, very rarely do they move the person you’re speaking with forward, nor do they help you find the information you’re looking for.


Looking for more on the formula for asking powerful questions, plus some sample questions you can use to bring out the best in others? Access your FREE cheat sheet: How to Ask Powerful Questions.

How do you ask a Powerful Question?

The kicker with asking powerful questions is that you can’t really plan them all out in advance of a coaching conversation.

You can, of course, have an idea of the types of questions you want to ask, but you’ll need to be agile and adaptive as you navigate the coaching conversation based on what the coachee is saying and wants to talk about.

But with that being said, here are 6 tips you can use to formulate powerful questions:

  1. Take the time to think of the right question.
  2. Ask “what or how” questions, not “why” questions, which tend to put people on the defensive.
  3. Keep your questions as clear and simple as possible.
  4. Take time to think of the right question.
  5. Ask one question at a time.
  6. Don’t let the coachee avoid answering powerful questions.

In this modern workplace culture, your ability to ask powerful questions can make or break how effective you are as a leader.

If people leaders are equipped with leadership coaching skills that empower them to ask the right questions at the right time, it can make a significant difference in the success of individual projects, employees’ career paths and organizational-wide results.

If you’re wanting to learn more about Powerful Questions and add them to your or your organization’s leadership toolkit, BOOK A DISCOVERY SESSION with me today where we’ll talk about Powerful Questions and the other key ingredients of Coach-Like Leadership.