I love giving advice. I have been at Cameron-Brooks for almost 18 years now, so I have lots of advice for military officers, our alumni and Cameron-Brooks team members. My oldest daughter is headed off to college next year. Question on how to fill out a college application? No problem. I read applications every day and I have lots of tips on that. Question on an academic major? I have advice for her on that, too. I want to help people succeed, so I naturally want to share my knowledge with them.
I am what you would call an “advice addict.” However, after listening to Michael Bungay Stanier, author of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever, on the Art of Manliness Podcast, I have learned that my coaching method is mostly incorrect and my advice is not quite as valuable as I thought.
After listening to Stanier’s podcast, I started reading his book. So far, I have already learned that good coaching starts with staying curious longer, asking questions, and being slower to respond with advice. I’ve learned some powerful simple questions such as, “What is on your mind about…?” and, “What else are your thoughts about…?” “What is the real issue for you here?” I have also learned the importance of starting questions with “What” versus “Why” because the latter tends to put people on the defensive and the former does more to help the person think and share information.
Most leaders are what Stanier calls “advice addicts.” We have a habit of hearing a person, making assumptions, and jumping right in with advice. It takes time to change that habit. Not only does Stanier provide amazing advice on questions and how to coach others, he also offers detailed steps on breaking the habit of being quick to advise and replacing it with a new habit of asking questions.
Last year, I asked several of my team members to “get on my schedule” once a month for a coaching session. We met a couple of months in a row and then they just stopped making appointments with me. I thought, “They are probably just respecting that I am pretty busy and away from the office a lot.” This book and podcast suggests that they weren’t meeting with me anymore because they dreaded it and weren’t getting much value out of our sessions. I am ready to change in 2017. I highly encourage you to listen to the podcast and see if this book might be for you as well.