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Examples of Coaching Questions

Examples of Coaching Questions

Asking “insightful” or the “right” coaching questions is a key skill in life and is therefore critical when engaging in a coaching conversation of any kind. But what exactly are the “right questions”?

The “right questions” are simply those which, when asked of the right people at the right time, give you the sort of information which you need to make for more creative answers or solutions (or to bring about change for the better).

Whether you are a formal or informal coach, insightful questions should be “crafted” out of the reflective processes of a particular coach, in which he or she evaluates what is likely to elicit the best responses from the person that he or she is coaching. Insightful questions can only be insightful when the individual being coached responds in an open, positive, full and perhaps deeper way than he or she might do normally (and gains a new perspective on an issue or situation). Hence, both the coach and the coachee need to build a solid, honest and trusting relationship which allows insightful questions to be formed in order to deepen the relationship further.

Although we would not advocate that any coaching question is asked of an individual without being adapted or newly crafted to take account of the person to whom it is put (not to mention the need to take account of any prevailing contextual circumstances that should also be considered) it is possible to draw on example questions. As a result, the questions which follow provide a few examples which can act as a starting point perhaps.

  • If you had a magic wand/blank paper…what would you create/do?
  • What would you most want to change about yourself?
  • In the best of all possible worlds, what would be your ultimate wish?
  • What are your greatest personal time wasters?
  • What do you enjoy doing most/least at work?
  • What is your life plan?
  • How do you typically make big decisions (in work/life)?
  • How do you go about selecting one strategy from many?
  • What do you personally do to avoid bias/narrow thinking when making judgments?
  • What’s your personal vision for the next 3 (5, 10) years?
  • What process do you use to prioritize you goals or targets?
  • What is your method/process for analyzing possible pitfalls on a task or project?
  • In what circumstances have you failed (in life/work) because there were insufficient resources?
  • What contingencies do you generally put in place if things don’t go entirely to plan?
  • How do you go about striking the right balance between listening and talking at work?
  • What’s the greatest business mistake you’ve made –admitted to yourself/to others?
  • What are your main sources of creative input or ideas from others?
  • In what particular ways are you results-oriented in your day-to-day actions?
  • How will you know what success looks like, when it occurs?
  • What are the best ways to win the “hearts and minds” of people in your opinion? Why?
  • What processes do you put in place to ensure that change sticks?
  • How do you like to reward success when it occurs? Why?
  • How do you typically deal with project “loose-ends” or unexpected issues that arise occasionally?
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About Dr. Jon Warner

Dr. Jon Warner is a prolific author, management consultant and executive coach with over 25 years experience. He has an MBA and a PhD in Organizational Psychology. Jon can be reached at

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  1. E.G. SebastianMay 30, 2013 at 11:34 am

    Great article (and very impressive and rich website)!

    Fact is, a great question can be life-changing…

    The one question my coach asked me almost 10 years ago, changed my life completely, making what seemed impossible become a reality.

    “What would you do with your life if there was nothing to stop you?”

    My answer: “I’d become the next Anthony Robbins.”

    “What stops you?” – and oh boy, did I have reasons… In fact I had the worse kind of phobia of public speaking… plus I have a slight accent…. plus about 30 more reasons…

    Within (literally) a few weeks of coaching, I started promoting my speaking (I instantly purchased a ready-to-go workshop and later a bought a few more). And in this case, I took the 1st step and the universe provided the rest.

    As soon as I started calling myself a coach and a speaker – about 3 weeks later – I got invited to be the keynote speaker at a fund-raiser for Healthy Families of America…. And as they say the rest is history: from that keynote I got invited to present two workshops – one at an upcoming conference and one at a internal company training…

    I never became the “next Anthony Robbins,” as meanwhile I learned there’s only one Tony Robbins; but I became a very successful speaker (and coach) and love every minute of it.

    I’ve always wanted to fly like an eagle… and always wanted to do keynotes and workshops… but both of these dreams seemed equally unattainable. I still can’t fly, but when I speak I feel as if I was soaring like an eagle 🙂

    … and it all started with a single powerful and empowering question…

    • Dr. Jon WarnerJune 3, 2013 at 3:35 pmAuthor

      Many thanks for your kind comments E.G. I think we all want to soar like eagles and your insights are very useful.

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Jon Warner

Jon Warner is an executive coach and management consultant and in the past has been a CEO in three very different companies. Read more

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