ICE Book Review: The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More, and Change the Way You Lead Forever

Book Review by: Rob Cooney (@EMEducation)

Hello ICE Fans! Welcome to a new year of books!coaching habit

With the growing recognition of the value of coaching in medical education, I thought a coaching title would be a good way to start the year.

In The Coaching Habit, Michael Bungay Stanier lays out seven questions that can help to guide our coaching efforts. The book begins with an overview of the need for better coaching, followed by an exploration of habits and why asking these questions will be even more powerful if we make it a HABIT.

If you want the elevator pitch for the book, he even includes it as a haiku!

Tell less and ask more

Your advice is not as good

As you think it is

With that in mind, here are the first 3 of the 7 questions:

  1. The Kickstart Question: “What’s on your mind?” Having a way to start the conversation makes it easier to engage with your trainees and reports. This question is open and helps set the tone and direction of the coaching session.
  2. The A.W.E. question: I love the word play in this one, “And What Else?” This question is useful to begin to unpack the kickstart question. It helps to buy time for you as the coach and prevents you from jumping right in to try to “fix” the issue that your trainee is wrestling with. It has the added benefit of exploring the “on your mind” question in greater depth.
  3. The Focus Question: “What is the real challenge FOR YOU here?” As we all recognize, coaching can occasionally derail into a therapy session. Trainees may fall into overwhelm, driving their BMW (Bitching, Moaning, and Whining) into the session, or simply being too abstract. This question helps to refocus the session on the challenges being faced by the trainee. The phrase “For You” ensures the personal ownership. Notice also how you can go deep with the addition of question 2?

Throughout the book, the author has placed key “masterclass” summaries and links to videos demonstrating all of the questions and tricks.

Application questions for medical education:

  • How often do you use multiple questions instead of offering advice and suggestions?
  • What is the biggest challenge you face when coaching learners or direct reports?

Reach out to discuss these with me (@EMEducation) on Twitter!