Skip to main content
The Coaching Habit - Book summary

Coaching is increasingly recognized as an important aspect of leadership and development. Yet, most of us don’t receive nor deliver effective coaching. In “The Coaching Habit”, Stanier distills the fundamentals of coaching into 7 key questions. You can use these questions to change how you engage others, manage your relationships, and guide your employees or co-workers to solve problems and develop themselves.

In this summary of The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Lead Forever, we’ll give an overview of the 7 coaching questions. For the full details and additional tips on coaching/asking effective questions, do get a copy of the book, or get a detailed overview with our complete book summary bundle.

The Coaching Habit summary - book summary bundle

As the founder of coaching company “Box of Crayons”, Stanier has trained many managers to coach others. He found that most managers and leaders suffer from 3 vicious cycles at the workplace:
Creating overdependence. The more you help your people, the more they rely on you and the busier you are, until you eventually become a bottleneck.
Being overwhelmed. The more productive you are, the more work you complete and even more work gets thrown your way, until you’re totally overwhelmed by amount of work.
Feeling disconnected. The more you get lost in mundane day-to-day work, the more disengaged and demotivated you’ll become, and work no longer feels meaningful.

By developing a coaching habit, you can break the vicious cycles above:
• When you help your team to be more self-sufficient, you won’t need to intervene all the time and become a bottleneck.
• It also frees you up to refocus on what truly matters for you and your team.
• Coaching others pushes you and the people around you to step out of your comfort zones to learn and grow.

The 7 Coaching Questions

The best coaching methodology is to ask questions, and the 7 questions below capture the essence of coaching. Please read the book for the full tips and examples on (a) how to build a habit and (b) get additional tips on the art of asking questions which can improve how you apply these 7 questions. Or, get our complete 12-page book summary for a detailed overview of the processes, tips and examples.

The Coaching Habit summary_The 7 Coaching QuestionsHere’s an outline of the 7 questions from The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Lead Forever:

1. The Kickstart Question—“What’s on your mind?”

This is the opening question to help you break the ice and get the conversation flowing. In the book / full summary, we explain why this works better than small talk, and how to combine it with the “3P model” to more effectively tease out the underlying issues of a problem.

2. The AWE Question—“And what else?”

This question helps you to uncover and generate new options or possibilities, while overcoming the urge to give premature advice. Please read the book / complete summary for more tips on how to apply this question effectively.

3. The Focus Question—“What’s the real challenge here for you?”

The first 2 questions are likely to get the other party talking and sharing. Yet, they’re probably not highlighting the real problem. This question helps you to identify the underlying issue to be addressed. In the book / full summary, we offer tips on how to use this question most powerfully, with examples of how to apply it for different situations.

Review these ideas and tips at a glance with our book summary and infographic!

4. The Foundation Question—“What do you want?”

This question helps people to gain clarity on what they want, which improves communication and decision-making. In the book / complete summary, we explain the 9 universal needs, why most people fail to get what they want, and how this question also helps to make the other party feel safe.

5. The Lazy Question—“How can I help?”

This question is “lazy” because it gets the other person to propose a solution without you having to develop one. In the book / full summary, we explain the Karpman Drama Triangle, how this question helps to break the other person out of the Vitim, Persecutor or Rescuer roles, and how to apply this question most effectively.

6. The Strategic Question—“If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?”

This question gets the other person to consider if he/she is truly prepared to commit to a decision, rather than jump in half-heartedly. In the book / complete summary, we explain the what it means to commit to a decision, and why/how to delay jumping into a decision.

7. The Learning Question—“What was most useful to you?”

Coaching for development (focuses on the people handling the issues) is more impactful than coaching for performance (tackling specific challenges and putting out day-to-day fires). This question allows you to create a learning moment to coach for development, in addition to coaching for performance to solve the problem.

Other Details in “The Coaching Habit”

This book is structured like a coaching guide. Stanier focuses primarily on the practical tips that you can apply immediately, including simple exercises at the end of each chapter for you to reflect on and consolidate your learning. He also offers some background and empirical evidence to explain why and how each question works, with recommended readings and resource references.

Do get a copy of the book The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change The Way You Lead Forever for the full details, get our The Coaching Habit summary bundle for an overview of the various ideas and tips, or get more details, videos and resources at

Banner_Free readingraphics

Upgrade yourself as a coach & leader—help others solve problems & develop themselves!

Click here to download The Coaching Habit book summary and infographic

Leave a Reply