10 Oct 2017

#2- Secrets of the Coaching Masters with Michael Bungay Stanier

Posted By

For more information see Michael’s website:

For his TLC conference go here

Following the powerful keynote presentation on the Five Question Leader, I followed Michael Bungay-Stanier to his learning session on “The Secrets of the Coaching Masters”.  In this session, we dug deeper into what it meant to work less hard, but have more impact.  We reviewed his three principles of coaching: 1) Be lazy, 2) Be curious and 3) Be often.

For Michael, effective coaching is about understanding the mechanics and getting good at using the tools.  Since the topic of this session was about sharing “secrets from the Coaching Masters,” we were introduced to some of the key attributes gathered by Michael from his coaching buddies.

In partners/triads, we worked on trying to define these terms and name observable features.  Kate, Matt & I worked with soothing.  

As a group, we discussed how coaching is about focusing on the person, being elegant in how we ask our questions, showing up with fierce love and being a powerful source of encouragement.  Many things resonated for me in this learning session, but I really enjoyed exploring the role of language to soften or tighten the conversation as well as the notion of fierce love and challenging people we coach.  As coaches, we need to be willing to push people into the stretch zone (Ah, Vygotsky!) but there is an art to how we do this.  Michael’s framing statement, “I’m going to really push you and be provocative and it may not work…” is a great way to set up the challenging conversation, and I love that it offers an ‘out’ or an opportunity for the coachee (and coach!) to save face.  Michael stressed the importance of being gentle in coaching and setting up questions to be less scary, such as using sentence starts like: “Out of curiosity, what is the real challenge for you?”  Finally, he reminded us that there is a lightness to coaching and that as coaches, we need to detach from whether a coachee does something or not.  We are working with adults and we cannot lose sight of the importance of choice.

Finally, Michael Bungay Stanier is a masterful and engaging presenter and I loved the opportunity to hear how he consciously designs his sessions and keynotes to mirror his coaching philosophy and build safety among participants. As he states, this is important because neuroscience shows us that when a coachee feels safe, their best brain can show up- rather than focus on fight or flight responses.   In this session, we were introduced to TERA or the 4 key drivers for a place of safety: Tribe, Expectation, Rank and Autonomy. For coachees: Tribe is about building community, and responding to the question: “Are you with me or against me?”;  Expectation is about clarification, or “Do I know what is going on here?”; Rank asks: “Are you more or less important than me?”; and Autonomy is: “Do I make choices?”  Understanding and responding to these four drivers will undoubtedly help build safety and lead to a more effective coaching process.

Thank you Michael Bungay Stanier for this awesome session- I am still processing all the learning (and thanks for signing my book!)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.