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Coaching. A New Leadership Approach. (#179)

TCL Illustration 179

The Confident Leader


I received a significant number or responses to last week’s newsletter. Many shared the impact of the content. Let’s dive deeper and sharpen our skill of “asking” (vs. telling).

“The one who knows all the answers, hasn’t been asked all the questions.” 


This Week’s Edition

Ask vs. Tell.

Clarify Your Thinking

Leaders who primarily employ a “telling” approach to lead their team share that some respond with low engagement, lack of ownership or a reluctance to take initiative. 

When leaders rely too heavily on telling people what to do, they unintentionally enroll their people… to just wait to be told what to do

Clearly, this is the exact opposite result that leaders desire. Perhaps a reason they are getting this result is due to the fact that people generally don’t like being told what to do.  

The intentions are often good: 

  • Telling people what to do is efficient.
  • We’re under pressure for immediate results.
  • My way is the “right” way so it can be helpful to others.

But even a leader’s good intentions don’t necessarily alleviate the situation or generate a different result, and it may leave them doubting their own leadership

Old Thinking: I used to tell my team what to do and they did it. They are not responding like they used to. What’s wrong with them? What’s wrong with me?

New Thinking: If I don’t know the right questions to ask, I’m tempted to just “tell.” That doesn’t seem to work. I need to skill up on “asking.”

Thoughts Lead to Actions

When we know what to do and tell others to do it, it operates to affirm our identity. 

Conversely, when we coach others by asking them questions, it affirms their identity. “I knew you could do it.”  This is the place where individual growth happens. 

Adopting a coaching approach increases the following actions most leaders desire from their team members:

  • Critical thinking: wrestling with the problem (vs. being spoon-fed the answer)
  • Creative thinking: innovating new solutions
  • Problem solving: gaining new insights by being asked clarifying questions

Consider the following to advance your skill of asking.

IDEA: Use a five second pause in conversations with your team when you may feel a “tell” coming on. Here is a cue to assist you:

WAITWhy Am I Telling?

This pause will give you an opportunity to think about which approach is best: ASK or TELL (depending on the situation).

As each team member grows under this approach, your entire team grows giving your overall organization the best shot at growth.

Boost Your Performance

We need everyone on the team engaged to fulfill our greatest professional vision. Unlock each person’s unique perspective and commitment to the “cause” by engaging more of an ask approach this year. Sometimes the best ideas come from the most unlikely place. 

What’s Your Opinion?

What is your favorite “coaching” question you use to draw out the best in your team? Share it with me at

If you are going to be a leader, you might as well be a good one. Don’t let doubt count you out. Have a confident week!

Robin Pou, Chief Advisor and Strategist

We live to make bad leadership extinct so forward this newsletter to others who strive to be confident leaders. 


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What is “The Confident Leader”?

During the Covid-19 Pandemic, I began a video series called “Panic or Plan?” It was designed to equip leaders to navigate the doubt they experienced and to rise in the confidence they needed to lead during turbulent times. It took off. I then started this newsletter to equip leaders in the same fashion each week for the doubt that crashes across the bow of their leaderSHIP.