Team Empowerment: Powerful Coaching Questions for Managers

Sketch of hundreds of question marks, each representing a different coaching question in a corporate office

It’s just a matter of time.

Any person, whose professional activity involves the leadership or management of people, will eventually arrive at the point in their career where they realise that they need experienced support.

It may be that they feel lost when they consider a particular people-goal, it may be that they’re at their wits end with a team-dynamic challenge, or it may be that they’ve embarked on the journey of building empowerment into their team.

The common thread in all of these situations is that they all revolve around people. And being the fascinating humans we are, this means that there are many possible solutions.

Let’s assume you’re the leader, and your goal is to build an empowered team.

One way that you could help employees is by engaging a leadership transformation coach to assess and provide support through the facilitation of coaching sessions. With the right coaching conversations, this method can help build new skills and generate significant change. It’s important to remember though: there are many types of coaching frameworks, and different coaching styles.

In a situation where you don’t have the time to find and engage a professional, or in a situation where you want to grow your own professional development and learn some effective coaching questions for leaders, you can make an easy start by reading through this article. In it I’ve collated useful coaching questions for managers in the example above.

How can effective coaching questions help team empowerment?

By asking powerful questions that help explore topics of importance, managers can actually gain a better understanding of employee needs. And mutual, deeper connection can be co-created through the intentional conversation.

If you better understand what someone needs, then you have more ability to help them meet that need. This can help employees feel like they are truly supported by their leaders – providing opportunities for employees to explore their potential without fear of loss. Supported employees learn and grow with more confidence.

Plan to ask coaching questions that help an individual/ team:

  • define their goals and expectations,
  • identify strengths and areas for development,
  • take ownership of their actions and outcomes, and
  • develop their own action plans for skill development and action-learning.

These questions can encourage your team to think critically and creatively, ultimately leading to higher engagement and productivity.

Coaching questions also create a safe and supportive environment where individuals feel valued and able to express their thoughts and ideas. In this way, both the team and the individuals within it, can find empowerment – fostering growth, collaboration, and success collectively.

Ask Coaching Questions to Define Team Goals and Expectations

Effective leaders understand the importance of clarifying team goals and expectations. Shared clarity helps individuals and teams align  towards a common purpose. 

Coaching questions can help managers facilitate this process by encouraging individuals to reflect on their goals, aspirations, and desired outcomes.

Consider asking coaching questions like:

  • “What do you want to achieve as a team?” 
  • “How do you want to feel being part of this team?”
  • “How will achieving these goals benefit the organisation?”

Asking the right questions that encourage people to be introspective, can help them uncover other perspectives. The right coaching questions can assist individuals to set goals that are meaningful, and also help those same individuals achieve their goals! 

By gaining clarity on team goals and expectations through insightful questioning, leaders can support their teams to work collaboratively and achieve success.

Questions that encourage people to identify and achieve their individual goals

Leaders can also use the following open-ended questions to assist their team to identify and achieve individual goals. 

  • “What is important to you?”
  • “What are your personal goals and aspirations?”
  • “How can you align your goals with the team’s objectives?”

Using these questions, leaders can help team members gain clarity on their own ambitions and how they can contribute to the overall team goals. These questions create a sense of meaningful ownership and personal responsibility, motivating team members to take initiative and actively work towards their individual goals.

Additionally, questions like:

  • “What support or resources do you feel you need to achieve your goals?”

can enable staff to come to an understanding of their current reality, while helping you understand what necessary guidance is needed to support your team to succeed in their personal endeavours.

By helping employees identify and pursue their individual goals, leaders can focus on a primary goal of fostering a sense of autonomy and motivation within the team, leading to increased productivity and overall team success.

Coaching Questions for Leaders to Identify Powerful Strengths and Development Opportunities

Coaching questions that focus on identifying team strengths and development opportunities can be used to gain insight and encourage people to self-reflect. Questions leaders can ask include:

  • “What are your unique superpowers that  you feel you bring to the team?”
  • “What lights you up?”
  • “What are some areas for improvement you feel we could be working on?” 
  • “How can we leverage each team member’s strengths to achieve our goals?”.

These types of coaching questions help team members recognise and appreciate their individual contributions, fostering a sense of teamwork and collaboration.

Additionally, questions to ask like:

  • “Which areas of your work do you find most challenging?”
  • “What areas do you feel you need further development in?” 
  • “What skills would you like to enhance to reach your full potential?”.

Give space for leaders to identify areas for growth and create the tailored skill development plans that employees want (as opposed to plans that management think they want).

The feedback gained from the above list of coaching questions can be transformational for any business. This isn’t just due to professional growth or development of leadership skills, but also because this feedback can uncover organisational trends or opportunities that leadership have never even considered!

Oftentimes, co-creating a culture of continuous learning and improvement can organically lead to employee’s solving challenges with increased independence and autonomy.

Types of Coaching Questions that Explore Topics like Ownership and Accountability

The following coaching questions can play a crucial role in fostering ownership and accountability within teams.

When leaders ask coaching questions that revolve around people within a team taking ownership of deliverables, it can actually help them achieve their goals through self-driven investigation of smaller steps that make up bigger ones (i.e “working backwards from the goal”).

Some coaching questions for managers using this approach might include:

  • “What specific actions can you take to enable the success of this project?”
  • “What obstacles are there to taking these specific actions at this moment?” 
  • “How do you feel you can take ownership in this project and contribute to our overall goals?”
  • “What strategies or steps can you implement to hold yourself accountable for meeting deadlines and delivering high-quality work, and are there any resources or support that you feel may help you pave a way forward?”
  • “How can you proactively communicate and collaborate with your teammates to create a culture of accountability?”.

Facilitate these discussions with openness, patience, and compassion. As you and your team move closer to the completion of a project, remember to discuss progress on the above questions and their answers. Being open to what is emerging in the team and system is key to navigating uncertainty, change and transformation. This also fosters increased trust and honesty as the team will share new information as it is experienced.  

By asking these questions, managers not only encourage ownership and responsibility, but also help identify practical strategies for achieving success. This ultimately leads to a more motivated and engaged team.

Questions when Building Action Plans for Skill Development

At the heart of the matter, questions to help in this area should be primarily focused on providing relevant, appropriate support.

When used correctly, these questions will help you support your team in developing skills that they (and you), feel are valuable.

Alongside these questions, it’s important to also facilitate regular check-ins, so that the team as a whole can make decisions collaboratively around action plans that affect multiple members or stakeholders.

By asking open-ended and supportive questions, you can encourage each person to reflect on their challenges, explore potential solutions, and feel confident when it comes to overcoming obstacles. Being present, in the moment while situations are unfolding is an empowered way to co-create new potential together. 

Some coaching questions you can ask in this context include:

  • “What have you tried already?”
  • “What have you noticed?” 
  • “What do you think will work?”
  • “What do you feel will work?”
  • “What resources or support do you need to effectively address this issue?”
  • “How can I best assist you in reaching your goals?”
  • “Who can help?”
  • “What might the next step be?”.

These questions focus on the person’s perception of the situation, and what they feel it would take to move the situation into a positive position. They show your willingness to provide personalised support and they help create a safe and trusting environment where people feel comfortable seeking your assistance and guidance.


The questions presented today are influential and impactful in so many different areas, that variations of them are actually often used in other settings by qualified psychologists, life coaches and executive coaches! At the end of the day, it’s important to come back to the core reasons and motivations that are driving your actions. Doing so can help you learn what coaching has to offer both you, and your team. And give yourself conscious moments of compassionate encouragement as you share the human space with those in your team.  Asking questions that coaches ask, won’t magically resolve challenges, but they will help you uncover information that could be incredibly valuable, and should help you connect and care more authentically for your people. If you’d like highly-experienced and personalised support for you or your team, don’t hesitate to reach out to me here at Heartful Leadership. May you have a magical workday, every day!

Article by

Vee Haslam

I Help You Connect to the Heart of the Matter During Times of Change to Obtain Peak Performance.

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