Powerful Questions

by Nancy Zwiers | 26 Jan 2023

The Bloom Report

Powerful Questions

By Nancy Zwiers

I love the new chapter in my career—executive coaching.  I had always loved mentoring—giving advice to help people meet the challenges and opportunities in their careers.  I assumed that coaching was basically the same thing.  However, during my certification process, I learned that there is an important distinction between mentoring and coaching.


Coaching is not about giving advice.  It is about asking powerful questions.


What makes for a powerful question? 

  • A powerful question helps someone achieve a new insight, breakthrough, or aha moment.
  • It turbocharges growth, helping someone leap forward on their journey.
  • It is open ended because yes or no answers can’t create new openings.
  • It usually doesn’t ask “Why?” because why questions tend to make people defensive and this can stunt the opportunity for growth in that moment (e.g. “Why did you do that?”)
  • It usually starts with either “How” or “What.”


Let’s take a look at 30 examples of powerful questions that you can use with yourself or your people…

  1. What would be an inspiring goal for you to work towards?
  2. How do you think you would you feel when you reach this goal?
  3. How could you articulate your goal so it depends only on you and not on others?
  4. How would you like to make this goal measurable to it is clear when you have reached it?
  5. What would meeting this goal provide for or lead to?
  6. What have you already accomplished?
  7. What have you tried that worked?
  8. What have you tried that didn’t work?
  9. What are some options you have in this situation?
  10. What have you seen others do that might work for you?
  11. What’s the first step that you want to commit to?
  12. What is one small thing you can do that would make a big difference?
  13. What would you do if you knew you could not fail?
  14. If money were not an issue, what would you do?
  15. If time were not an issue, what would you do?
  16. What are the biggest obstacles you face?
  17. What scares you the most about this challenge/opportunity?
  18. What excites you about this challenge?
  19. What are your best sources of support in meeting this challenge/opportunity?
  20. What accomplishment are you most proud of? What does this tell you about your values?
  21. How did this accomplishment leverage your biggest strengths?
  22. How did you mitigate your weaknesses when you achieved this?
  23. What will it cost you if things remain the same?
  24. What’s the best possible outcome that could happen?
  25. What’s standing in your way?
  26. What’s the nicest compliment you have ever received?
  27. What is some of your self-talk around this challenge?
  28. What is your favorite memory from childhood? What does this tell you about yourself?
  29. Think about the people you admire most—what does that tell you about yourself?
  30. And the best follow-up question ever: What else? What else? What else?


Happy Questioning!  








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