“The best coaching question in the world” from Michael Bungay Stanier

I’ve been meaning, for some time, to say a few good words about a wonderful book I read a couple of months ago. It’s called The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, by Michael Bungay Stanier.

I’ve gotten to know Michael a little bit in the last couple of years and he is a pretty impressive guy who runs a consulting business known as Box of Crayons. He interviewed me for his website’s blog, asking me to share a favorite question—which is something he does with lots of people. Check out the Box of Crayons blog to see what I’m talking about.

But more importantly, check out The Coaching Habit—particularly if you are a coach or anyone concerned with developing strong leadership skills. In the book, Michael shares 7 powerful questions that can make someone a better leader and manager. I’m not going to give them all away, but I’ll just say that my favorite is what he calls “the AWE question.” AWE stands for “And What Else?”—which, according to Michael, is “the best coaching question in the world.” Why? Because asking it enables you to dig deeper, to get people to think more, and to keep the conversation going.

One of Michael’s central points is that leaders tend to be full of advice—but often, they’d do well to stop telling others what to do. By listening and asking questions, leaders can learn more and can also help the people around them to learn, solve their own problems, and grow. Michael’s message reminds me a little of another book I’ve recommended, Humble Inquiry by Edgar Schein. But The Coaching Habit is even better because it’s filled with practical takeaways, all delivered in Michael’s witty tone. The book also contains some great quotes on questioning, such as this one from Jonas Salk:


“What people think of as the moment of discovery is really the discovery of the Question.” ~ Jonas Salk

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About the Author

Innovation expert and questionologist Warren Berger has studied hundreds of the world’s foremost innovators, entrepreneurs, and creative thinkers to learn how they ask questions, generate original ideas, and solve problems. He is the author or co-author of 12 books, including his three books about the power of questioning: BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS IN THE CLASSROOM: Transforming Classrooms Into Cultures of Curiosity and Inquiry, THE BOOK OF BEAUTIFUL QUESTIONS: The Powerful Questions That Will Help You Decide, Create, Connect, and Lead, and A MORE BEAUTIFUL QUESTION: The Power of Inquiry to Spark Breakthrough Ideas. Warren’s writing appears regularly in Psychology Today, Fast CompanyHarvard Business Review, and The New York Times. He lives in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @GlimmerGuy and subscribe to his blog posts.

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