“I have a Question”!
“The questions are meant to provoke thought, create the emotional uproar and inspire the student to find the answer. For the answers benefit the student, no one else” [Talent Sutra, by Devdutt Patnaik]
Devdutt Patnaik, in his book ‘Talent-Sutra’, classifies students in five categories as the Pandavas: “
- Yudhishtir: As kin, expects others to know the answers
- Bhim: A man of strength; prefers to do than think.
- Arjun: As an archer sees questions as arrows shot at him and deflect them by counter-questions; not interested in answers.
- Nakul: The handsome one, not capable of thought.
- Sahadev: He is the wise one who never speaks but is constantly thinking and analyzing. When asked a question, he is provoked into thought and comes up with the intelligent answer.
A teacher who wants to invoke Narayan (wisdom) in his students follows the Sahadev-method of teaching: He asks questions and does not give answers. The teacher is not obliged to know the answer.” [Talent Sutra, by Devdutt Patnaik]
These laws of invoking wisdom have still not changed. They rather have been found. And we are lucky to have been living in times when organizations have started acknowledging and valuing this science called “Coaching”.
Coaching is the new form of the age-old art of asking questions to find solutions. Questions are an empowering tool to be used in coaching the employees.
We all have solutions to our problems; we all have! answers to our questions.
As a coach, we only need to maneuver coachee’s thoughts by asking questions, which help them take a deep dive into their limiting beliefs, thoughts, values and rules.
The shift needs to happen at the coach’s end: from solution mindset towards exploring mindset. And we help the coachees explore by giving them questions to think about; not necessarily answer.
How can questions empower the coachee:-
- When the question is asked in a way that reflects active listening by the coach
This does not mean paraphrasing. This means you let the coachee know that you’re onboard with their perspective as you listen to them with intent.
- When the question is compelling enough to take a pause and reflect for answer
The questions must evoke discovery and insight, challenge the coachee’s assumptions, help them dissociate from the ‘feeling stuck’ mindset and look at the problem from a new perspective
- When the questions are open-ended
The questions should invite a response which is a result of deeper reflection; that creates better clarity, prospect or new learning.
- When questions do not demand for justification
As a coach you don’t need the coachee to justify their actions, thoughts, and beliefs; you rather them reflect, and think through and challenge their limiting beliefs and actions. This can be done by asking questions which are non- judgmental in nature. Avoid questions which begin with ‘Why’. ‘Why, immediately puts coachee in justification mode.
Once again, quoting an excerpt from the ‘Talent Sutra, by Devdutt Patnaik’, “ In the Kathasaritsagar, Vetal makes Vikramaditya wiser by asking him questions at the end of the story he tells him each time he comes to take Vetal away from the crematorium. Vetal helps him process the past for wisdom that can be applied in future.” And he does this only by asking questions and not giving any solutions.
Even the kings need coaching. We all need coaching; for we just need a coach who believes in us and has all the questions to our answers.
#Leadership #executivecoaching #coaching #employeeengagement
(*The article is inspired by a chapter in the book “Talent Sutra, by Devdutt Patnaik”- Questions teach us, not answers”.)