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Using advanced coaching skills to highly engage your team

6 May

NinetyThousandHours hosted an interactive webinar with guest speaker, Jane Viljoen talking about Advanced Coaching skills with a solutions focused approach to maximise leadership performance. 








Advanced Coaching offers a solution focused approach which can be used straight away and get some impact with your teams and peers. Coaching is used in a professional sense to engage and empower others. 

We can use it for coaching one person and also teams to achieve real organisational and cultural change.  Coaching is an art - hearts and minds need to come together.  Coaching is about improving people’s thinking and identifying gaps rather than convincing them of something or trying to change their minds. It empowers the other person to go and find the solution for themselves. 



Empathy VS Sympathy 

The difference between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms is: sympathy is feeling compassion or pity for the hardships that another person encounters. empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another and demonstrating we understand how they feel - it is non-judgemental

In a work environment - sympathy can be seen as collaboration which can reflect negatively on you as the coach.

Empathy - is the best approach for coaching as it shows we understand how it makes the person feel. 

Once we have empathy - we canprime to trustus. We can create a safe environment to allow a person to share.


The Need and Intention 

Whatever model you choose, it’s also important to establish a Need and the Intention. You need to ask yourself - Are you pushing or pulling them towards a decision?

  • PULL - Non-Directive  - your approach is to listen and reflect 
  • PUSH - Directive - your approach is instructive and you may find yourself giving advice 

If we are Pulling we are very Non-directive and Coaching. If we slip towards giving advice - we are NOT coaching 


There are many different models we can use to coach people - some can be helpful, but regardless of each must have a reason why we are doing it in the first place. Whatever method we use we need to include some fundamentals:

  • Framework  - a framework or a contract between you and the coachee is used to establish what the expectations are for the conversation
  • Listening - is critical. Not just to understand but listening to connect. Which means understanding the person's interpretation of the problem.
  • Questioning - great questions stimulate neural networks in the brain - we know the answers but need them to be drawn out of us.
  • Listening - again! 
  • Responding - paraphrasing and checking back
  • Action planning - agree what will happen next and what the next steps are - even if it’s only one or two things 
  • Supporting - How is it goIng? Reflections at a later date help people to feel supported. 
  • Evaluating - understanding if it’s working and measure it. This is important for all parties to make sure we see what’s happened as a result. 

Questioning and Listening to connect 

Coaching stimulates neural networks in the brain, and enables people to connect the dots, build confidence and ultimately it improves performance. 

It’s important when coaching to help the person to explore their problems in detail, do do this we need to use language to frame questions in the right way:

Ask open questions - Do use; What, Where and How beginnings, as well as; tell me more, can you describe it? How did you do that? What made you come up with that idea?

Warning - be careful with the use of Why? - as this can sound quite confrontational? 

Double clicking - Go deeper with your questioning and probe even further. Qualify what they mean and what that looks like to them. By doing this you are giving them a gift and enabling them to think in a different way.

GROW Model

This is a well-known model for coaching

  • GOALS - where are they heading?

  • REALITY - where are they now? What are the barriers?
  • OPTIONS - What options are available for them to move forward?
  • WILL - how motivated are they to action?

Whatever model you choose to use... PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE!!!

Be curious and ask questions where you don’t know the answer! 

Don’t be worried about drilling down, make sure you soften your language.  

This helps to empower your coachee:

  • what have you tried so far? 
  • What is your thinking about it?
  • What would that feel like for you? 
  • Avoid giving advice questions such as -‘have you considered doing it this way?’
  • I’m curious about this?

Solution focused approach offers:

  • Problem free talk
  • Best hopes - whats the best outcome? What are you hoping for?
  • Contracting
  • Ask the Miracle Question - identify their ideal. ASK - ‘If a miracle happened, you woke up tomorrow and you had a perfect day, what would that day look like?’

3 simple steps to follow to establish a Solutions Focused coaching conversation:

  1. What do you want?
  2. How will you know you have it?
  3. How near are you to getting that right now?

TYPES of questions?

  • Double headed - Ask ONE question which is more impactful than listing multiple questions
  • Leading questions - This can be confrontational eg. I assume you’ve told your team about the changes?
  • Multiple choice questions - Let them decide for themselves eg. why did you go for that option? Was it cost? Convenience or something else?
  • Scaling Ask the person you are coaching to scale themselves on the scale below 0-10, then ask  them what their current position is? Then go on to ask - What have you done to get to a 4 position? This builds their confidence and makes them appreciate their are positive aspects of their situation. 

From here you can ask a series of questions to establish what their next steps should be. 

0 --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------10 

Worst position                                                         Best position

If you would like to go through the process of measuring your EQ you can obtain an affordable intervention from Jane in a group session let Jane know at

Jane viljoen

Executive Coach | CEO & Leadership | Neuroscience Based Leadership | Psychology of Success | Expert in Human Performance

Founder and Head Coach of 'Best Hopes Coaching and Consulting', Jane is a highly skilled, experienced and dynamic coach and occupational psychologist. She offers leadership, team and organisational development.

A Registered Psychologist and Conversational Intelligence Enhanced Practioner™, Jane combines principles from the fields of Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Solution Focus and Emotional Intelligence to enable you and your organisation realise its potential.

Jane offers individual coaching, development coaching, executive coaching, career coaching and help yourself be happier coaching

Connect with Jane on LinkedIn here 

Email Jane:

Book in your FREE 30-minute Emotional Intelligence measurement session with Jane HERE

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