Courage When Asking Powerful Questions

As part of our Decoding the Coaching Genome course, we take a look at the role of Powerful Questions in coaching. The course looks at the 11 Core Competencies of coaching and is accredited with 21 CCEU by the ICF. Find out more here.

How many questions have you asked your clients that literally took their breath away? When your client gasped in response to your question, you could correctly assume that your question was powerful enough to stop their usual train of thought and thrust them into uncharted territory. In order to be that curious, you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone and travel with your client to the space of unknowing. This obviously takes courage on your part and theirs.

Defining Courage

What kind of courage do you need to ask this sort of question? The first sort of courage that you need is the courage of authority. You must be able to stand in your own coaching knowledge and power. Having the courage of your own authority means that you grant yourself permission to ask your client any question necessary to do the work that will enable them to both facilitate their inner growth and to evoke the required actions that will accomplish their goals. Trusting your authority and your experience, you know the value of leaving your comfort zone in order to beckon your client into what is unfamiliar or new to them.

As you experience your own courage of authority, you are also evoking the same for your client. No matter what their profession, or need for coaching, asking powerful questions of themselves and others is no longer negotiable. The world is changing very quickly and the ability to ask powerful questions is more important than being able to provide familiar answers.

Courage and Perfectionism

The second sort of courage that you must have is creative courage. When you create a new way to see the world, the first response is likely to be resistance. Resistance keeps us on familiar ground. We know what to expect. Creative courage is not interested in the familiar. It is powered by the thrill of birthing something new and wondering how it will turn out. You must be willing to stay with your client’s fear and distrust of your creative courage. Eventually, their natural creativity will join yours and something previously unknown will be co-created.

Interpersonal courage is yet another form of courage required to ask powerful questions. You must consistently build and rely upon your relationship with your client in order to ask these questions. Trust, authenticity, and your continual desire for your client to succeed need to be the platform on which all of your questions stand. Powerful questions require comradeship along the journey. A truly powerful question elicits the need and desire for guidance along the way.

How to be Courageous

How do you grow these types of courage? Practice making mistakes. Perfectionism is the primary slayer of courage. Remain humble and curious. What worked about your questions and what didn’t? Speak to your client about their process. Notice what is occurring for your client and between you. Continue to ask powerful questions and do not be attached to the outcome.



About the Author:

Judith has been following her calling for the past 33 years, originally as a licensed psychotherapist and then for the past 20 years as Co-Active Coach. After training her, CTI (The Coaches Training Institute) invited Judith to become a faculty member in 1996. She received her Master Certified Coach certificate through the International Coach Federation in 1999. Judith currently is a Senior Faculty member at CTI as well the principal of her own international coaching practice.

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