The kickstart question

Stanier in The Coaching Habit writes that "Coaching for development is about turning the focus from the issue to the person dealing with the issue, the person who's managing the fire."
Such a useful concept! What this means is that as leaders our job is not to know how to solve all problems. It is not even realistic to be able to solve all problems, is it? The person who is asking the question often is closer to the situation and has more information about the issue than we do.

(As an example, think of your 6th grader who is dealing with a math problem. He has attended the class recently and heard the teacher's instructions. Who knows more about the situation – him or you who has not attended a math class in several decades?)

So our job as a leader may be simply to help people uncover the answer that they already have within themselves.

This process is so much simpler than trying to solve or pretend to know the solution to every problem that others are having. So when you are asked "how should I do this", your response can be to ask guiding probing questions that help the individual uncover the right answer.

Stanier suggests that we should start these conversations with what he calls "The Kickstart Question" which is "What's on your mind?"

The simplicity of this question should not fool us. He explains that this question allows you to get to the heart of the matter by inviting people to share what is most important to them.

So next time someone comes to you with an issue or problem, start by asking: "What's on your mind?" and watch how quickly the conversation can turn to the real challenges at hand rather than dancing around the issues.

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