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Unlocking Your Inner Coaching Wizard: A Magical Journey in Leadership

Author: Toluwa Oyeleye

Ever wondered about the powerful duo of coaching and mentoring, and their game-changing potential in the realm of leadership?

Is coaching not the same as mentoring?

Imagine learning to ride a bike - a mentor's like that savvy cousin who shares biking secrets based on their experiences. On the flip side, a coach is your trusty adventure guide, posing the “what” and “how” questions. How did you conquer that steep hill? Do you still relish the ride, or is it time for a bike sale fiesta?

The coach vs. mentor saga is real! Sometimes, you crave the best biking tricks (mentor's advice) from someone who’s peddled those trails. Other times, it's someone to help you decode why you're on the bike ride in the first place (cue the coach with their curious questions!).

Now, let's unveil the magic of coaching in the corporate universe:

Gear Up for the Coaching Mindset Adventure!

Embracing the coaching mindset is like flexing your brain muscles 💪 (thanks to Carol Dweck's growth mindset, now applied to real-life leaders). It's about focusing on strengths and superpowers, instead of fixating on weaknesses. Picture it like optimising these strengths to the max, creating a symphony in your business's key areas 💥 The choice map is our treasure guide, navigating us from 'meh' to 'heck yeah!' and empowering us to ask all the right questions as leaders! (I’d also highly recommend the book)

The Quest for the Perfect Question

Questions are our magic wands 🪄. The right question can unlock hidden doors! 🚪🌈

Coaching questions are like Harry Potter spells—simple yet incredibly powerful! 🧙‍♂️ They focus on seeking to understand, rather than just straight to fix/solve (yes, this is a game-changer!). Open-ended questions allow the other person to provide context on their ongoing issue while feeling psychologically safe. For instance, instead of saying,“what’s all this networking about then”.? we go for, "can you tell me more about networking and the importance it holds to you?" The simple trick here is to start by leading with curiosity instead of assumptions or solutions.

🪄 Practical Activity: Develop Your Coaching Question Skills

To help you develop your coaching question skills, try this exercise:

🧩Take a recent challenge or situation from your leadership experience.

🧩Instead of providing immediate solutions, write down a series of open-ended questions that could guide your team member to find their own answers.

🧩Experiment with different phrasings and approaches to see how they might affect the conversation.

The goal is to empower your team to come up with their own solutions through thoughtful inquiries, which in turn makes them feel more empowered and motivated.

Curiosity is the key that unlocks the potential within your team, propelling them towards excellence.

Active Listening: The Potion of Empathy

We all think we're great listeners, but are we truly? Imagine you're listening to someone pour their heart out, and instead of just nodding, you're mentally drafting your grocery list. Not ideal! Active listening is our magical potion. It's like being a wizard who can read minds, but in a good way. We listen to understand, not just to reply. It's the super glue that bonds teams in our coaching adventures. When we step into this coaching level, we're able to truly empathise with the other person as a first step before anything else. This level of listening builds rapport and psychological safety, paving the way for collaborative problem-solving. Want to know more about how to build your active listening skills? Sign up to Zoah’s free Active listening workshop here.

Cracking the Code of Tricky Conversations

The fundamental essence of coaching is about elevating your own level of awareness. When faced with tricky situations we often move straight into reaction, but coaching allows us to notice what's going on internally for us first.

Check in with yourself - ‘what’s going on for you today?’ What about this situation is triggering emotions (insert any emotion here). So, I often share with my clients the A.B.C.D. method. When faced with a tricky conversation with a colleague, report, or senior stakeholder, one way coaching allows us to have constructive and daring conversations is to pause and prep. The A.B.C.D approach comes to our aid.

A - stands for Awareness: Going back to checking in with yourself. A useful question to start with is, ‘What are the three dominant emotions I’m feeling right now?’

B - Behaviour: What assumptions am I making about this situation? Are these assumptions untested or tested? That is, do I have any evidence to support these assumptions, or is it a narrative I've created in my mind? How else can I be thinking about this? What is the other person thinking, feeling, and wanting? What emotions may potentially arise for both of us during the conversation? These questions allow us to move into a state of empathy for the other person/group of people concerned.

C - from here, we move to Choice: What are the choices you now have in how you respond to this situation?

D - Decision: This is the action you choose to take moving forward.

Coaching isn't just about levelling up as leaders; it's about becoming all-around magical beings. We're talking about having better conversations, stronger relationships, and habits so fabulous they glitter. So, if you're ready to unlock your inner coaching wizard, grab that virtual wand (a.k.a., your phone or laptop) and let's brew some coaching magic!

To explore how coaching can serve you, reach out for a virtual coffee chat. Let’s uncork the possibilities together. ☕✨


Toluwa Oyeleye is a globally recognised coach, speaker, and trainer dedicated to unlocking individual potential. With notable certifications, including MindGym and advanced well-being & leadership coaching from Cambridge University, she's a sought-after expert. As a TEDx speaker and UN conference figure, Toluwa advocates for mental health and well-being. She's the founder of Zoah Consultancy LTD, a leading global leadership consultancy, empowering corporate leaders through coaching and training programmes, driving behavioural change and unlocking human potential.

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