A Great Coach is a Lazy, Curious & an Often One – Notes on Michael Bungay Stanier’s Talk

I had the pleasure to meet one of the greatest coaches in the world, Michael Bungay Stanier. As the second greatest coach in the world, as per introduction & here, he used some spectacular techniques in facilitating the session with at least 200 people. I am sharing some of them here with you.

First of all, you wouldn’t find any presentation for his talk. There were only 6 or 7 titles written on a chart paper.

At the beginning of the sessions, he asked everyone to stand up and greet another person that they don’t know. Then he asked us to answer this question talking: “What cross roads are you at?”. At the end of the 5 minutes, he asked us to repeat our names once again. We have repeated this exercise after a while with a different person and question: “Talk about your high points in the last week”, on your foot!

Then he asked us to give a number from 1 to 7 for the following questions (7 being the highest). We didn’t share the answers but just to have an idea of where we are standing. The questions were as follow:

  • How much engaged and active you are going to be in this session?
  • How much risk are you taking with me (Michael)?
  • How much effort are you going to put in to know other people?

This helped me to align my thoughts with my goals in the session. It will be a great tool to use in the start of a meeting / session you are facilitating. 

Then he talked about the bad, good and great work, based on his book. He used the following questions to engage the audience in checking the process: “Let me do a quick check, doesn’t anyone know what I am talking about?”. 
One of the definitions of the great work that I really liked was “more impact, more meaning”. You can start your conversation with just this and then get into details of how a great work might look like. 
Some of the cool learnings from the session are the followings: 
  • Advice Monster: This is the reverse of Active Listening 
  • Advice Giving Maniacs: You can tell what that is, this isn’t something a good coach would do.
  • The first thing that shows up is not the real challenge most of the time.
  • The first answer they are giving is usually not the best answer. 
  • Coaching is to be lazy, curious and often!
  • Nothing is more scary if there is there is only one option you got
  • The person with the longest hair / longest feet / more hair / more colorful goes first
Great Resources:
  • You can listen to Michael talking about the last statement here.
  • A great article in Globe and Mail summarizing the “coaching habit” from Michael.
  • The session by Michael (embedded below)

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