By Dean Whittaker

We are all a coach at some point in our life, whether it is with our children, friends, or co-workers.  Business leaders find themselves in this role frequently as they endeavor to encourage their team members to grow in their skills, knowledge, and expertise.

Why have a coach? Because there are no winning teams that do not have one.  This month I hired a coach to help me grow in three areas. My intention is to become a better coach to economic development practitioners and to my team.  The second area of focus is to develop a technology road map for my company to anticipate where technology is headed. The last area is to learn to play the guitar.

During our first coaching session, we entered into a coaching agreement that outlined the commitments on which my coach and I agreed to during our bi-weekly, one-hour sessions that I will attend over the next three months.  In this session, we explored the topic of coaching, focusing on what coaching is and the importance of asking questions.  Coaching is different from mentoring.  Mentoring means that the mentor has subject area expertise.  Coaching is about helping the person to develop, but the coach may or may not have subject area expertise.

We are using the GROW Model acronym which is Goal, Reality, Options, and Will. Here’s a great link to a coach talking about the coaching process.

I learned what makes a good coaching question and what does not.  Basically, questions that result in a yes or no response tend to shut down the person being coached and are not very helpful.  One of my assignments for these two weeks was to development ten good coaching questions and try them out on a willing participant.

Here’s a list of my coaching questions:


  1. What would you like to accomplish?
  2. How will you know when you have accomplished it?
  3. When would you like to have achieved it?
  4. Who will benefit from it when it is accomplished?


  1. Where are you today relative to your goal(s)?
  2. What is the current condition?
  3. Who is impacted by the current situation?
  4. How would you like things to be different?


  1. What are five ways in which you can achieve you goal?
  2. What obstacles currently prevent you from achieving your goal?
  3. How can these obstacles be overcome?
  4. What options have you considered?


  1. What are you willing to do to accomplish your goal?
  2. What are you not willing to do to accomplish your goal?
  3. What will it feel like once your goal is accomplished?
  4. Who will benefit when you accomplish your goal?

On the technology front, I have begun to explore Anchor, an app for creating and publishing podcasts.  My first effort was less than successful (recording a bunch of background noise), but I will try again. Cool app, by the way!

In terms of learning to play the guitar, I got it out of the closet, took it to the music store, and had it re-strung with lighter weight strings to make it easier to play.  I just got it back and am ready to pluck out some notes.

In summary, we can all benefit from a coach. What are some areas of your life that it would be advantageous to hire a coach? How can you use your skills to coach others?