No Challenge? No Change!

by Amy Ruppert

Think about what we do as coaches: We listen. We ask questions. We clarify. We reflect the essence of what we hear/observe so that a client can see themselves. And then assist in moving to desired results. What we do is truly brilliant and helpful work. One of the most powerful aspects of coaching that catalyzes significant change is when the coach challenges the coachee. As the coach develops their skill and gains more experience, how they challenge their coachees becomes more sophisticated and indelible. The seasoned coach is willing to go farther out on a limb and ask for big things and risks strong push back from the coachee. The payoff? Shifts happen!

So, as coaches, what are we challenging and how do we do it? Most of the time, the bigchallenges come in the form of very powerful questions. Questions that challenge what’s been said or what isn’t being said, but implied in the coachee’s language and attitude. Another way coaches challenge is to make big requests. The bigger and hairier, the better! The more outrageous, the more powerful they are! Giving the coachee the option to accept, reject or negotiate a request means START BIG! Challenge them to rise into their most audacious self!

Here are some of the most common areas coaches can challenge their coachees and some questions and challenges that can make the ‘shift hit the fan’ with a coachee.

  • Beliefs
    • Is that really true?
    • Who says that’s the way it has to be?
    • What evidence do you have to support that?
    • I’m going to request you find evidence that says YOU CAN do this!
    • I’m going to request that you make up the rules about what you believe versus letting someone else do that for you.
  • Assumptions
    • Do you know that for a fact?
    • Has he/she told you that themselves?
    • Do you really know what it’s going to take or are you just guessing?
    • I’m going to request that you stop assuming and start KNOWING.
    • I’m going to request that you let facts guide your decisions versus guesses.
  • Patterns
    • From what I’m hearing, this sounds like the same way you approached it last time. Is this the same approach and just a different situation?
    • Are you expecting a different outcome from last time?
    • I’m going to request that you move out of your comfort zone and into what scares you a little.
    • I’m going to request that you stop clinging to what is familiar and be bold with a whole new direction!
  • Underestimations
    • Are you perhaps overpromising?
    • What are you basing it on that you/she/he can’t do it?
    • I’m going to request that you act as if you believe in yourself/her/him and THEN decide what actions a person might take who believed that.
    • I’m going to request that you under promise and over deliver instead.
  • Narrow views or focus
    • What might you NOT be seeing or taking into account?
    • If you pushed down the walls of how you’re looking at this, what would you see?
    • I’m going to request that you broaden your viewpoint of this.
    • I’m going to request that you look at this through the eyes of _____________ .

There are so many opportunities for challenging coachees when you are coaching. Listen for them and jump in with both feet!