No matter if you are new to coaching leadership or a seasoned coach one of the biggest pitfalls as a coach is providing solutions.

The problem is that you see a solution to the issue so clearly that you have to bite your tongue not to say it. But that desperate effort to avoid giving a solution fails often. And before you know you have given a solution.

The result is that you solved. You didn’t coach.

The result is that you rescued the employee. You didn’t help them grow.

The result is dependency. You didn’t support independent thinking.

So, the next time you are biting your tongue and are about to stop coaching, stop yourself – midsentence if needed. Your job as a coaching leader is to ask questions. The right questions! Here are four tips to improve your questioning skills as a coach:

1 – Be comfortable with silence

The biggest challenge is being comfortable with silence. Many leaders have a tendency to start talking when a silence lasts more than a second. Be patience. Allow space in the conversation. Take a breath and let a good coaching question come up.

2 – Trust

The underlying foundation for a successful coaching relation is trust.

Trust the coaching process. Coaching is a time investment that will take up more time upfront but will give you more time in the end.

Trust your employees. They will find a solution.

And trust yourself. The right coaching question will pop up. Don’t start formulating the next question while your employee is still talking. Just listen and the next question will pop up.

3 – Ask questions about the real issue

Before you ask a question, think. Is this really what you would like to know? Is this giving the answer to the core issue? Or is this question a way to get many less important details? Or, if you’re totally honest, is your questioning a way to avoid silence?

4 – Don’t pile up

Don’t pile up questions, that is, asking 2 or 3 at the same time. Don’t do that. Just get your own thoughts together – ask for a moment if needed- and then ask one question.

Questions are a great tool in your leadership toolkit. Grow your skill to ask great questions. Questions that cause others to stop and think. Like the question that was asked by two tribal elder:

Who speaks for the birds?

This week I would love to hear your favorite coaching question. Do you have a question that you like to use? A question that often gets you to the real issue? Or a question that is a great starter of a conversation that helps people to open up?

Please let me know your question in the comments.