20 Questions to engage your high potentials

 In Leadership Advice

Leaders often hear the advice that they should not be solving problems for the high potentials on their team but instead should be “coaching” them. But how does this happen? It’s so hard to get out of problem-solving mode—especially when you have all the answers. Today’s Coaching Minute is a quick guide for leaders with only two steps; Step 1: ask a good question, and 2: listen intently. Here are some quick instructions and 20 questions you can choose from.

Instructions: Review this before your one-to-one meeting with the person you want to coach. Pick one or two questions from the list, ask your questions with intention, then stop talking—just listen. These questions do not need to connect to each other—they are just a random list of good questions.

Keep in mind that these questions are ideal for when you are working with someone who has GREAT potential, and you need to activate that potential. Do not underestimate the power of a good, OPEN-ENDED question, followed by COMPLETE silence and presence while you listen to their answer. After listening to their answer, perhaps follow up with another question and engage in a dialogue. As dialogue naturally flows, be sure to stay out of the “FIXER” role; stay in the coach role for best results. Remember that the person being coached should come away with the action plan—not you.

Leader: I wanted to focus our one-to-one session this week on your frustrations with Lucille and Mark on your team.

Manager: Yeah, they are driving me nuts. I can’t count on them for anything. They are just lazy.

Leader: What role have you been playing in the work with them? (Q #8)

Manager: Well, I have been re-doing all their work, because when I check their work, it is all wrong.

Leader: What do you think is needed from you here (in this role)? (Q #9)

Manager: Well, I know I am supposed to train them and let them make mistakes and trust them more. But it’s really hard.

Leader: What has worked well (so far)? (Q #4)

Manager elaborates

Leader: What hasn’t? (Q #7)

Manager elaborates

Leader: What’s the best way to move forward? (Q #20)

Coaching Questions for Leaders to Ask When Engaging High Potential Employees & Managers

  1. What’s your process?
  2. What expectations do others hold that you need to address here?
  3. What have you been trying to learn?
  4. What has worked well?
  5. What learning opportunities are there for you?
  6. What could you be paying attention to?
  7. What’s not working?
  8. What role have you been playing in the work?
  9. What role do you want to play?
  10. What is required of you here?
  11. Who is successful at this?
  12. How did you behave last week?
  13. What choices are you making currently?
  14. What value do you get from (the “bad” behavior)?
  15. How does (that) get in the way?
  16. What’s most rewarding to you?
  17. What’s most important to you?
  18. Which values matter the most?
  19. What matters most to others?
  20. What is the best way to move forward?

“Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.”–Karl A. Menniger

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