Ken Dreyer and I discuss The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier. Our conversation evaluates the book and examines Ken’s experiences putting it to work. Ken is not a coach. My hope is that this conversation shows how simple coaching techniques can help you be a better leader no matter what your role is.

Conversation Highlights

  • You don’t have to be an official coach to benefit from the concepts in this book
  • Ken would re-title the book “How to ask good questions”
  • When you give advice over and over again you become the team oracle
  • The book lists seven good questions to ask and examines how each one helps
    • They aren’t meant to be a formula
    • You must build rapport–you can’t just ask the questions and be effective
  • How many times do you just provide the answer?
  • The power and effectiveness of silence
  • Taking notes on interactions at meetings
    • Increases engagement
    • Evaluate what’s going on for yourself
    • Privately vent if it’s not going well
    • Ask yourself questions privately that might change the situation or unlock how you can help
  • The valuable dimensions of asking one question (and closing your mouth)
  • Understanding and avoiding the Karpman Drama Triangle
    • Hero
    • Villain
    • Victim
  • Jim Dethmer elaborates on the Karpman Drama Triangle in this podcast
  • Where the questions from The Coaching Habit fit (and where they don’t) and how you might decide
  • Thinking like an Intreprenuer
  • Where it makes sense to give advice
  • Joint participation in solving the problem vs. taking the whole thing on
  • How to help someone who is in a constant state of “I don’t know”
  • Steve Chandler: Agreements vs. Expectations (a game changer in any relationship)
  • If you are in a mentor role, consider how coaching (not giving advice) might create a more powerful outcome


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