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How to coach with curiosity

Over the years, many clients have told me that they struggle to coach their people. The problem is that they just don’t know HOW. So today, I want to focus on one coaching skill you can apply right away.

It is the practice of being curious.

Sometimes, as leaders, we judge people. Sometimes, we make assumptions about our team. Other times, we make up stories in our minds about why their work isn’t good enough or why they aren’t meeting our expectations.

But recently, I heard two amazing stories that reinforced the power of curiosity.

In both cases, these leaders dealt with people not meeting their expectations. In both cases, these leaders were feeling frustrated.

In both cases, I recommend that these leaders have a curious coaching conversation with their respective underperforming team member.

Do you want to know the result of these powerful conversations?

Well, the first leader, let’s call him Mark, was frustrated as his team member was constantly missing deadlines. During their coaching conversation, Mark’s team member disclosed that he had a traumatic brain injury. The reason he did not complete his tasks on time was not because he was lazy, uncommitted, or untrustworthy.

With the second leader, let’s call her Michelle, she created such a high trust, open and curious relationship with her “under-performer” that this person disclosed that she is on the autism spectrum.

Neither leader was expecting the response they received.

One thing that I have learned after coaching people for two decades is that you just never know what challenges other people are facing.

Now, because Mark and Michelle stayed curious, they received some valuable information that resulted in accommodation for their team member.

These accommodations were not difficult to implement, and each leader felt relieved to be able to support their colleague.

What would the world be like if we all were less judgemental of others and instead were committed to staying curious in our relationships?

Vanessa Judelman

Vanessa Judelman is an author, coach, and sought-after leadership expert. Over the past 20 years, she has created a proven formula to develop results-oriented leaders who feel empowered and confident in their job. Vanessa is the author of Mastering Leadership: What It Takes to Lead in Today’s Fast-Paced World. Order your copy here.

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