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Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #13: Questions That Every Coaching Leader Should Ask Themselves

September 6, 2018
Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast #13: Questions That Every Coaching Leader Should Ask Themselves

In Episode 13 of our Executive Leadership Podcast, The John Maxwell Company’s Perry Holley and Chris Goede explore five key questions that every coaching leader should ask themselves:

  • Am I growing, learning and leading myself well?
  • Do I provide clear guidance on what I expect of my team?
  • Am I providing clear feedback for my people?
  • Am I communicating and really connecting with the individual?
  • Am I asking powerful questions and listening to my people?


The more you put into coaching, the greater results you’re going to drive. Listen to our podcast for a deep dive into these important questions.

Listen to all podcasts in this series and subscribe to new episodes on iTunes or Google Play.

Read the transcript below:

Welcome to the John Maxwell Company Executive Leadership Podcast where our goal is to help you increase your level of influence, increase your reputation as a leader, and increase your ability to fully engage your team to drive remarkable results. Hi, I’m Perry Holley, a John Maxwell Company facilitator and coach and I’m Chris Goede, Vice President of The John Maxwell Company. Welcome and thank you for joining.

Well, I’m excited about today because Perry and I are going to change roles. We’re switching seats and I’m putting him on the hot seat, especially since today’s episode is titled “Questions I Ask Myself as a Coaching Leader.” And, with Perry being one of our John Maxwell executive coaches, I thought that we would turn the tables a bit today and I’m going to ask the questions and you’re going to get to hear from one of our best.

Before I do that, let me position this conversation in the Five Levels of Leadership context that this podcast is really built around. Coaching is a leadership competency. And, let me stop for a second. If as an organization, you guys do not have a competency map, I would encourage you to begin looking into that as you begin to make decisions, develop leaders. The best way to make sure that it is aligning properly over time and it’s sustainable, is that you have a competency model that you tie that to.

All great leaders take the growth and development and other teams very seriously. For that reason, I would position this topic around coaching on our Level 4, which we call people development of the 5 Levels. I should also remind our audience that if you want to review the Five Levels of Leadership model, you can do that by referring to Episode 1 of this podcast series.

So enough of that, let’s jump into the fun. Let’s put Perry on the hot seat and I have a couple of questions for him. So what I want to do is I want to talk to you, ask you questions that as a coaching leader, you should be asking yourself and the importance of them. All right, question number one. Am I growing, learning and leading myself well?

That’s a good one to start with and it’s interesting as a coach thinking that it does start with me is that it’s a personal growth question. It speaks to the point that John taught me so many years ago, so many of us so many years ago is that you cannot give what you do not have. And I think so many leaders avoid coaching their teams because they don’t think they have anything to share. They turned coaching conversations really into performance reviews, which always frustrated me. I think I’m getting a coaching conversation and they want to do a territory review or an account planning session. What I really want to know here is, have I done the personal development? Do I have a personal development so that I’m pouring into me so that I can be pouring into you to the person I’m trying to coach?

And when you add on a little bit about leading myself is that we’ve talked several times on this podcast here is that people are watching you all the time. And I always ask, you know, what are they watching for? And if you’re not leading yourself well, they’re watching for those actions, reactions, behaviors, daily disciplines, are you doing them because I’m coaching you? I’m probably going to challenge you and if I’m challenging you but not challenging me, that’s a leadership problem.

Yeah. Going back to what you just mentioned about the question around growing and learning and you can’t give it to you, don’t have that. I often see great coaches or people that are great leaders, coaching their people, be authentic, right? And just have that leadership voice and so when you’re developing yourself and you’re learning and things come to mind and you want to coach and develop and impart things, it’ll come to you a lot faster and just be authentic about what it is because you’ll never know the value that that’s going to add to those that you are coaching unless you say it. And I’ve had that happen to me many, many in many situations.

Well, question number two, as a coach, do I provide clear guidance on what I expect of my team? Oh, that’s great. This was really the success question and I’ve found that if people are not aware of my expectations as the leader, then they’re not going to have a clear idea what the priorities are to get there and there’s no priorities, there’s really no success. I always asked the executives that I coach if they have a set standard for performance that they’ve communicated with their team and establish that level of expectation about what’s to be done, how it’s to be done. If they have not done those two things, we’re not gonna really have a great coaching conversation because my expectations are one level years or at another. I have not really communicated my standard of operation for this team and what the priorities are.

And I think one thing to add onto that is make sure when, when you do do that and you providing that, that you also communicate how that aligns with the organizations, the big goals, right? The bigger picture. And so I think that’s critical there. All right. You’re doing well. Okay. Two down. Couple more to go.

Question number three, am I providing clear feedback for my people? This is a great question, right? A lot of people don’t like to provide feedback. They don’t like maybe the confrontation if it’s a negative feedback. So as a coach, the question here is, am I providing clear feedback for my people? And the question you often get isn’t feedback the same as coaching and coaching and feedback the same. They’re not. That can be similar, but this is the growth question and I see coaching and feedback as two different things. Feedback is really situational. When coaching can have a much broader scope, you can definitely coach a specific situation, don’t get me wrong, but I use coaching as a model for a larger conversation about the whole person and the person’s mindset. Feedback to me is really about an in the moment performance opportunity where you’re working with your team and you observe – I often think I go on sales calls and then if I don’t take that moment, I’m walking back to the car, getting a coffee, even just discussing it in the office after the call is over and I don’t make it complicated. A lot of people struggle with it. They think I don’t have time to coach because I don’t have all these tools and my laptop and my whiteboard in my notes.

Here’s an idea. I have a little three part feedback is what I thought they did really well, where I thought they could maybe use some improvement and what do you think? All I want to do is have a conversation and when I get down to that, what do you think? I’ve told them what I think about that, but I want to hear what you think. It opens a dialogue where then I can go back to being authentic. I’ve been in a sales call, I’ve struggled in sales call. I’ve failed in the sales call. I’m watching you. I want to help you. It shows that I care about you, that I’m willing to give feedback to you because I want to see you grow and improve and I think the assessed the table for a great coaching conversation later, but the feedback is a seed that I plant that’s going to grow a coaching conversation.

I think that is valuable feedback, especially for those that don’t naturally like to give that type of feedback. Now, remember, what we’re doing is we’re talking about questions that coaches ask themself during situations about coaching other people and so I want to encourage you, whether you’re an executive leader, whether you’re a new leader or again, we define leadership as influence and we all are leaders, and we’re all coaching people. That these questions are relevant to each one of you that are listening when it comes to impacting and leading others.

So question number four for you. Am I communicating or really connecting with the individual? So, John has a book titled similar to this and that everybody communicates, few connect and I found that I was a world class communicator and really failing at connecting with people. So you’re not connecting, you have a very difficult time coaching for growth. We talk about a lot about Level 2, the relationship level and that people follow because they want to. John says there’s a lot of people don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. So connecting is really about saying that I care, I’m here to help you grow and improve and that I’m a little bit about listening and a little bit about following through, it’s a little bit about hearing and the whole person to me. So I’m really trying to connect with the individual, not just communicate instructions.

One of the best practices that we have at the John Maxwell Company is we do a lot  of leadership coaching around the world on the Five Levels of Leadership. And in our yearlong program, the first month, there’s two causes, you know, Perry, the first one is simply just to connect, right? We call it life defining moments. What is your life story? I know our coaches kind of vulnerably share there’s. The coach, he shares his and it just sets the table. It sets the foundation to your point to be able to effectively coach and share information.

Question number five, am I asking powerful questions and listening to my people? Yeah. You could probably break those into two questions, but your point is a good one is that, first of all, listening to me is the is the value question. think the greatest way you can show value to another human being is to actively listen to them. Put away your device, pay attention. You’re listening to them in the moment. Actually have a plaque on my desk that says, be here now, and it’s really to remind me that in the moment am I in the moment, if I’m constantly looking at my phone, instant messenger, things popping up in email, I’m not focusing on them, and then the questions piece. Obviously as a coach, there’s nothing better than having powerful questions. This is an awareness question to me and say, am I thinking through what’s a way to move you? The person I’m coaching to reveal to me and to open up to me in a way that I asked questions.

Now, John’s always taught that your questions reveal what you value, and so I always used to tell a story about, you know, telling my wife how much I love her, how much I need or how much I value, how important she is to me, and then I get a phone calls and she says, I was in a car accident and I said, how’s the car? So those don’t line up. And so I’m thinking of the questions I’m asking in a coaching conversation. Do they line up with these, as you said earlier, the bigger picture values, vision, mission, what we’re trying to accomplish, what the expectations I’ve set, the standards we’ve set, am I asking questions that align to what’s going on there? Then John’s really big on thinking through questions that reveal motive questions that reveal values, questions that go deeper than just background understanding questions.

Well, I will tell you this, the. We often end our podcast and our time together with what are the next steps? What are action items and for today’s lesson, I think the action items are in the content. We gave you five questions that Perry suggested as a coach that we’re asking ourselves as we’re investing in coaching others. Perry, any closing thoughts around this is what you do so well and have done for so many years. Any closing thoughts that you’d share with our audience about coaching?

Yeah, you know, I’ve never asked the leader did they think coaching was valuable and they’ve said no. Everybody says yes, it’s valuable. I said, are you doing? No, not so much. Why are you not doing it? I don’t have the time. So this is the value question again to me is said it. If it’s so valuable, maybe I’m making it too hard. Can I make 10 minutes? Could I do it on the way to something else? Could I get a coffee with you? Could I invest in your life in a way that does it? Try something small, try something easy, but try it and then set a time just to regularly do that. Small things done daily, small things done weekly, small things done monthly. They will make for big great results later on. So I’m finding the more you put into the coaching and feedback of your people, the greater results you’re going to drive.

Well, I’m going to be honest with you, I really liked being on this side of the mic here, so next time we might be doing the same thing. Thank you for that extremely valuable content. I know that for myself, for those that are listening, we all need to focus on coaching those that are on our team, so I really do appreciate it. If anything we talked about today kind of resonated with you. If maybe you’re even interested in being coached by one of our coaches on the Five Levels of Leadership or need additional resources, or even just have an additional question for Perry that we could answer for you in one of our podcasts or maybe even onsite and your organization, please feel free to go to and submit your questions, your form or your interests there were so grateful that you joined us. Until next time, this is the John Maxwell Executive Leadership Podcast.

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