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Lessons from Kathryn:
The power of powerful questions

The majority of my years in leading people have been done in the style of mentoring, not coaching.  Mentoring is sharing with a mentee your experiences, and the most effective way I've found of doing that is to let them experience life with me, up close so they can shadow me and learn. Mentoring involves giving the person you are helping actual advice or in some cases very strong direction. 

Obviously I haven't been coaching as long as I have been mentoring.  I started a life coaching program for the women of our church four years ago however I did that flying by the seat of my pants, creating the program as I went along .  Amazingly, it worked well.  I've been career coaching for a little over a year now and I love it.  The company took a risk in hiring me as I had no career coaching experience prior to that.  I took it as my mission to make sure they didn't regret bringing me on board and in fact would one day consider me a valuable part of the team. 

A great majority of what I know a year later comes through the woman who became my boss in July of last year.  Her name is Kathryn Kemp and if you have read my blog for very long, you've seen my "lessons from Kathryn" that I post from time to time.   (Just go in the sidebar and click "Lessons from Kathryn" or type Kathryn in the search bar and you can read them all.)

I'm the type of person that likes to solve problems and present solutions as quickly as possible.  Coaching has been a challenge for me in one regard because it requires you asking more questions than producing answers.  A few weeks ago Kathryn gave me the assignment of coming up with twenty powerful questions to ask my job seekers.  She's always talking about powerful questions and the reason for that is because they are...well, POWERFUL.  "Let the client do the work," is one of her mantras.  That used to feel so irresponsible to me.  A job seeker has a problem, I'm sitting there with the solution in my head, but I just need to sit there, ask a question, be quiet, and hope they discover it for themselves...yeah...ohhh-kay.  That was a challenge for me but now I see through Kathryn's leadership that it's absolutely essential for them to own the outcome.  She's great at asking blockbuster questions and then quietly waiting for answers.  She does it with me all the time and it really works! Her favorite question is, "What's the gift in this?"

Those of you who have known me for any length of time know I've been to counseling a few times.  Yeah, I'm one of those leaders not afraid to admit that I've been totally broken a few times.   Looking back on all the times I sat in the counselee's chair, I am cognizant of the fact that most of what really helped me move ahead were the times the counselor would ask me powerful questions I just hadn't thought of before or just didn't dare to ask because it was too painful. 

When you change because someone has asked you a powerful question and you thereafter come to a new revelation it has sticking power that just isn't there when somebody hands you a pre-fabricated solution.  Two things Kathryn always says:  meet the client where they are and, let them come up with their own answers.


Tina Blount said…
So, please share with me, what 20 questions did you come up with?
1. What things in life are you most passionate about?

2. What would you do in life if money were absolutely no object?

3. What do you need to stop doing?

4. What does effectiveness look like to you?

5. What roadblocks do you feel are in the way of your effectiveness?

6. How much do your personal or family needs at this time affect your decisions about employment?

7. What is your dream situation if you got to make all your own rules about the way your personal and work life intersects?

8. What one thing in your work life is an absolute non-negotiable for you?

9. What job have you been most happy doing, and why?

10. How have you responded to change in the past when it was not of your own making?

11. What are you most concerned about as you are in this time of transition? What is weighing on your mind most heavily?

12. Are you wanting to reinvent yourself and if so, what does that look like to you?

13. How are you feeling health wise and how does that impact your immediate future if at all?

14. What do you believe if your purpose in life?

15. How do you measure your success?

16. What are you tired of?

17. If you could change anything in the world what would it be, and how might your new career choice/job factor into that?

18. What do you think it will take for you to go to the next level?

19. What are you most proudest of in life and why?

20. What is the gift in this time of transition, for you?

Five bonus questions:

1) Where do you think Jimmy Hoffa is?

2)Where were you when JFK was shot?

3)Boxers or briefs, bikini or granny, boy shorts or thongs, and why or why not?

4)If you were absolutely forced to make this choice would you choose to pee a whole lemon or poop a whole grapefruit?

5) If a man is talking in a forest and there is no woman around to hear him, is the man still wrong?

(I have to keep Kathryn endears me to her. LOL)

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