Book notes: The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier book summary review and key ideas.

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

Synopsis:

“Coaching is an essential skill for leaders. But for most busy, overworked managers, coaching employees is done badly, or not at all. They’re just too busy, and it’s too hard to change.

But what if managers could coach their people in 10 minutes or less?

In Michael Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit, coaching becomes a regular, informal part of your day so managers and their teams can work less hard and have more impact.

Drawing on years of experience training more than 10,000 busy managers from around the globe in practical, everyday coaching skills, Bungay Stanier reveals how to unlock your peoples’ potential. He unpacks seven essential coaching questions to demonstrate how – by saying less and asking more – you can develop coaching methods that produce great results.

  • Get straight to the point in any conversation with The Kickstart Question
  • Stay on track during any interaction with The Awe Question
  • Save hours of time for yourself with The Lazy Question, and hours of time for others with The Strategic Question
  • Get to the heart of any interpersonal or external challenge with The Focus Question and The Foundation Question” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

This was another book that my department at work paid for because it is relevant to what we do. As Scrum Masters in within the Scrum methodology and Agile principles, we are coaches is many aspects. I figured this would be a good book to choose for our monthly book learning initiative because it was very applicable. The book also seemed to have a good ratings and reviews.


Key notes:

  • Why coaching others helps you: It lets you work less hard and have more impact
  • Allows you to break 3 vicious circles:
    1. Creating over-dependence
    2. Getting overwhelmed
    3. Becoming disconnected

How to Build a New Habit

  • Three components of deep practice:
    1. Practicing small chunks of the bigger action
    2. Repetition (do it slow, fast, differently)
    3. Being mindful and noticing when it goes well by celebrating success
  • Resilient habit systems build in fail-safe’s so that when something breaks down, the next step to recover is obvious
    • Make your habit a resilient system
  • New habit FORMULA:
    • Identifying the trigger -> Identifying the old habit -> Defining the new behavior
  • Charles Duhigg says there are five types of triggers
    1. Time
    2. Location
    3. Emotional state
    4. Other people
    5. The immediately preceding action

Question Masterclass Part 1: Ask One Question At A Time

The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind?

This is a question that allows participants to focus on what matters most

  • Two types of coaching:
    • Coaching for performance – addressing an issue or putting out a fire
    • Coaching for development – focuses on the person handling the issue
      • Coaching for development is more powerful and makes more of an impact on the other person
  • The 3P model is a framework for choosing what to focus on in a conversation. For deciding which aspect of a challenge might be at the heart of the difficulty the person is working through
    • A challenge might typically be centered on a project, person, or a pattern of behavior
      • Utilize the 3Ps as focuses to approach the issue at hand
      • Take them through each aspect once it’s been explored
  • Why is this question good?
    • Neuroscience shows we are what we give our attention to
    • Anytime we have something on our mind, it literally uses up energy
      • Even though it accounts for only 2% of our body weight, it consumes about 20% of our energy

Question Masterclass Part 2: Cut The Intro and Ask The Question

The AWE Question: “And what else?
  • He considers this the best coaching question for 3 reasons
    1. More options can lead to better decisions
    2. You reign yourself in
    3. You buy yourself more time
  • The first answer someone gives you is almost never the only answer and rarely the best answer

Book reference: Decisive by Chip & Dan Heath

  • We all have deeply ingrained habit of jumping into the advice-giver role when presented with a problem
    • Giving advice feels more comfortable than the ambiguity of asking a question
      • This urge is called the advice monster
  • Studies show that the ideal number of choices our mind can handle is 4
    • If you can generate 3 to 5 different ideas, you’ve made great progress when asking this question
  • Studies show that committing to an answer and then having time to reflect on it and possibly change leads to greater accuracy

Question Masterclass Part 3:  Should You Ask Rhetorical Questions?

The Focus Question: “What is the real challenge here for you?
  • Ask: If you had to pick one of these challenges to focus on, which one here would be the real one for you?
    • Adding the words “for you” to the end of the question helps people figure out the answers faster and more accurately

Question Masterclass Part 4: Stick to Questions Starting with “What”

  • Don’t ask “why?” in a focused conversation with the people you’re managing because
    1. You put them on the defensive
    2. You’re trying to solve the problem – this creates dependency
The Foundation Question: “What do you want?
  • One of the ways to ensure better communication between people is to understand the difference between wants and needs
  • In this model, wants are the surface requests, the tactical outcomes we’d like from a situation
9 Self-explanatory, Universal needs
  1. Affection
  2. Creation
  3. Recreation
  4. Freedom
  5. Identity
  6. Understanding
  7. Participation
  8. Protection
  9. Subsistence
TERA – 4 primary drivers that influence how the brain reads any situation
  • When you focus on this, you’re thinking about how you can influence the environment that drives engagement
    1. T = Tribe – are you with me or against me?
    2. E = Expectation – do I know the future or don’t I?
    3. R = Rank – are you more or less important than I am?
      • Relative, depends on how power is being played out
    4. A = Autonomy – do I get a say or don’t I?
  • Your job is to increase the TERA quotient whenever you can
    • Asking questions in general, and asking “what do you want?” specifically will do that

Miracle Question: Suppose a miracle happens tonight while you are sleeping. When you wake up, how will you know that things have suddenly gotten better?

  • This question helps people to courageously imagine what better and much better looks like
    • It deliberately focuses on the ends before the means

Question Masterclass Part 5: Get Comfortable With Silence

  • When you offer to help someone, you one-up yourself by raising your status and diminishing theirs, whether you mean to or not
  • The 3 dysfunctional roles we play when we are triggered and become a less than effective person (a.k.a. the “Drama Triangle“)
    • Victim
    • Persecutor
    • Rescuer
The Lazy Question: “How can I help?
  • Often our best attempts to be helpful generate resistance and end in failure

Question Masterclass Part 6: Actually Listen to the Answer

The Strategic Question: “If you are saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?
  • Asking this question brings the commitment out of the shadows and brings it into even sharper, bolder focus
  • You are also uncovering two types of “No” answers
    • The ‘no’ of omission – options that are automatically eliminated by your saying ‘yes’
    • The ‘no’ of commission – uncovers what you now need to say to make ‘yes’ happen
  • It’s easier to say ‘no’ to people closest to us and most distant from us
    • It’s harder to say ‘no’ to anyone in between

Strategic Questions

  1. What is our winning aspiration?
  2. What impact do you want to have in and on the world?
  3. Where will we play?
  4. How will we win?
  5. What capabilities must be in place?
  6. What management systems are required?

Question Masterclass Part 7: Acknowledge the Answers You Get

The Learning Question: “What was most useful for you?
  • When we take time and effort to generate knowledge and find an answer rather than just reading it, our memory retention is increased
    • This is why advice is overrated
    • If you ask a question and the person generates the answer themselves, the odds of memory retention increases substantially
  • To learn, retrieve
  • What is essential is to interrupt the process of forgetting
    • Asking the question at the end of the conversation creates the first interruption of that slide towards forgetting
  • Answering the question yourself enriches the conversation even further and builds a stronger relationship
  • The Peak-End Rule: how we are evaluating an experience is disproportionately influenced by the peak or the trough of the experience, and by the ending moments
    • Finish on a high note and you make everything that went before it look better

Question Masterclass Part 8: Use Every Channel to Ask a Question

  • These questions work just as well in any type of communication channel, not just face-to-face

Conclusion & Book References


Main ideas / Themes:

  • Good coaching allows for greater impact with less work
  • The Peak-End Rule: how we are evaluating an experience is disproportionately influenced by the peak or the trough of the experience, and by the ending moments
  • TERA – influence the environment that drives engagement
    • T = Tribe – are you with me or against me?
    • E = Expectation – do I know the future or don’t I?
    • R = Rank – are you more or less important than I am?
    • A = Autonomy – do I get a say or don’t I?
  • Advice is overrated
Coaching Questions:
  • The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind?
  • The AWE Question: “And what else?
  • The Focus Question: “What is the real challenge here for you?
  • The Foundation Question: “What do you want?
    • Miracle Question: Suppose a miracle happens tonight while you are sleeping. When you wake up, how will you know that things have suddenly gotten better?
  • The Lazy Question: “How can I help?
  • The Strategic Question: “If you are saying ‘yes’ to this, what are you saying ‘no’ to?
  • The Learning Question: “What was most useful for you?

Closing thoughts:

Surprisingly, I thought this was very insightful! The author presented some great ideas and questions that I had never considered, and the explanations on why they are so powerful were very helpful.

As I was going through each of the coaching questions, I kept thinking “hey, I should try this one” over and over. They’re all very simple and straightforward questions, but the logic behind them is sound.

I think the main idea or takeaway I get from this book is that great coaching, which is a win-win for all parties involved, comes from asking the right questions that empower your team to learn and grow. This is what the author calls coaching for development.

Overall, I highly recommend this book for anyone in a managing, coaching, or leading role, or even just someone a part of a team who wants their fellow team members to improve with them.


One Takeaway / Putting into practice:

I could honestly put into place 3-4 different takeaways from this book. In fact, utilizing any of the coaching questions would be a great takeaway. However, I think my choice for this book would have to be:

  • The Peak-End Rule: how we are evaluating an experience is disproportionately influenced by the peak or the trough of the experience, and by the ending moments

I want to immediately put this into place as I think about my interactions with others, both professionally and personally. As a person who find myself in a coaching/teaching/mentoring capacity, and wants to further that as a career, I think this is a powerful concept to grasp and utilize. Having the person you’re mentoring have a positive experience with your interaction is KEY for retention and progression. I think remembering idea and purposefully making sure they end our encounter on a high note as well as have a meaningful peak with increase it’s effectiveness.


Nutshell:

Advice is overrated. Great coaching allows for more impact by asking the right questions and empowering others to develop themselves into their own problem-solvers.


Similar books:


Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.

4/5


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