The Benefits of Coaching and Listening

The Benefits of Coaching and Listening

What if your team were more Self-Reliant?

Want People to be Inspired and Motivated?

Do your team members want to feel Empowered and Valued?

Coaching is one way of doing all that and more. Coaching is a skill, a set of tools and also a mindset. What I’m presenting here is coaching as a skill and set of tools. This will not make you a certified coach; this will assist you in using coaching skills as an option in your toolbox of leadership skills.

I’m mentoring a business leader right now whose goal is to have her team “self-coach”, coach themselves so they don’t have to come to her for solutions, answers, or direction.

Benefits of Coaching

• People learn to think their way through a situation, enabling them, making them less reliant on you.

• People bring their ideas and thoughts to the situation which might result in new, unique solutions and more creativity and diversity of thinking.

• It’s less work for you in the long run as you train them to figure it out (make them more independent and empower them when it is done well).

• You don’t have to know everything all the time (which might be a blow to your ego).

• People feel valued and heard and often are more engaged as they are genuinely asked to explore their ideas.

• You develop leaders, grow greater talent, thereby growing the organization’s capability (and it just might be more fulfilling for you).

Coaching is really just the creation of a reflective space for someone (the client or coachee or employee or fellow human being) to figure out their own solutions and ideas in relation to a particular topic. This is done by the coach (or leader in your case) listening in a deep and non-judgemental way and asking open (sometimes powerful) questions that help the employee discover ideas and possibilities in themselves.

I’ve coached people for 10 minutes who were passing by on the street (it was part of a street team providing free coaching in London) and been given feedback that they found the experience profound. I’ve coached people for hours to the same result, meaning coaching can be 10 minutes, 30 minutes, an hour or longer – depending on the situation, topic, what they want out of it and the time you have.

Tips for Coaching

• Follow the energy of the person you are coaching – whether it’s positive or ‘negative’ energy. That energy tells you what’s important to the person.

• Ask a question – before you respond to someone asking you a question, ask them a question. For example, if they come to you with a problem and ask your suggestion, ask them “what do you think we should do?”

• Ask an open question – ask a question that starts with WHAT preferably. This sends people to the creative part of their brain. Don’t use WHY – that sends people to the defensive part of their brain. Keep HOW or WHEN until the end – as you want to be sure people are solving the right problem before coming up with a solution.

• Use short questions – short questions, even “So what?” create clarity for the listener. Longer questions tend to take time and focus away from the thinker, can contain implied solutions or be leading.

• Learn GROW – it’s a simple 4-step coaching structure of Goal, Reality, Options and Will Do.

• Listen more than you talk – in coaching the energy should come from the person you are coaching, not you.

• Do A&Q, not Q&A – listen to the answer you hear, and build the question from what they’ve said, not from what you think would be good to ask.

• Silence is golden – be ok with silence. Don’t fill it. When you ask someone a question and they are quiet, it means they are thinking. It’s probably a question they’ve never been asked before and hence need to think about the answer.

Have you ever been in a meeting where someone asks a question that causes everyone to pause? I have at Nestle. Often the smartest person in the room is the person that asks the best question, not the one with all the answers.


Listening is the starting point for great communication including coaching. Through my coach training with Co-Active Training Institute (CTI), I learned there were three levels to listening, which changed how I listen and engage (most of the time)1.

The Three Levels of Listening

Level 1 –

Internal Listening/ Focused on Self

Your focus is on yourself, your thoughts, feelings, issues. When someone mentions a topic you immediately go to your thoughts, feelings and opinions on that topic. It’s about your internal narrative or conversation.

Level 2 –

Focused Listening on the Other

Your focus is on what the other person is saying in a laser-like fashion, as though you’re under the ‘cone of silence’ in the old Get Smart TV program. When someone mentions a topic, you want to know that person’s thoughts, feelings and opinions about the topic. You have little awareness of the outside world.

Level 3 –

Focused on the Whole or Global Listening

Your focus is on everything, the space, what’s going on inside you and with the other person, what’s going on energetically. This is where intuition or gut-feel might come in; the action, inaction and interaction.

Try listening at these 3 levels – what have you noticed? All 3 levels have information/data that can inform you about the person and/or situation with whom you are interacting.

Coaching and Listening go hand in hand. Using both with transform the potential of your team members (and other stakeholders and even your children).

What are your top tips about coaching and listening?

What would be possible if your team were more self-reliant?

What would it take for your to try coaching more?

If this is something you want to shift for your team, get in touch to discuss the possibilities at

1 Witworth, Laura and Karen Kinsey-House, Henry Kinsey-House, Phillip Sandahl. Co-Active Coaching. Davies-Black Publishing. P34-40, 2007