CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 31, 20th October 2003


  1. Editorial: Doing what you enjoy
  2. Coaching notes: Asking open questions

1.     Editorial: Doing what you enjoyRichard Winfield

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultant

I have spent the last three weekends building a pond with my cousin in Derbyshire. This is the fourth pond that I have built, and one of my hobbies.

It has been great fun and I have absolutely been in my element. Put a bricklayer’s trowel in my hand and I am on ‘cloud nine’. Further, I love digging ditches and a good pond needs a water flow both in and out.

My cousin says that I have missed my vocation as a landscape gardener – or as a plastic surgeon!

Certainly, it has made me think. If I can enjoy this work so much, should I be taking this into account in my work? This week I have been mentoring a company director. Similar pleasure.

The things that bring me joy and fulfilment involve creativity and making sense of the world – either bringing structure to it or understanding it. My interests, my hobbies and my work are all related to these core areas. I have had careers in transport planning, publishing, management consultancy and as an executive coach. My interests include choral singing, animal husbandry, vegetable gardening, landscape gardening, property development and reading. All congruent.

How does this relate to the work environment? We are at our most creative and most motivated when what we do is related to who we are. This is something we explore with our clients – both individuals and organisations. Who are they and how well do they fit?

I once had a client who complained that his daughter disliked her job. All she wanted to do was to go to dance clubs. I suggested that if she analysed what was really attractive to her in clubbing, she could find a job that with a better fit that she would find fulfilling – probably related to people and activity. He believed that she should put up with her work if it paid her wages. I disagree.

We spend so much of our time in work that we owe it to ourselves to find a job that we enjoy. So much of the cost of most organisations is in staff costs that employers owe it to themselves to find people who fit the job.

Building a pond in Derbyshire

The good news is that my cousin has decided that once the weather improves in the spring he wants to dig a lake. That is real fun – a return to gardening with a Hymac!



We have a client seeking a coach in Portland, Oregon. She is looking for someone to assist in the development of her career.

If you can help or know a coach who can help, please contact us at

2.     Coaching notes: Asking open questions
Perry Burns, Associate Perry Burns

“I keep six honest serving men
(They taught me all they knew);
Their names are WHAT and WHY and WHEN
and HOW and WHERE and WHO”
Rudyard Kipling

The way to ask open questions is to ask questions built around Kipling’s six serving men. These are known as open questions because they do not pre-suppose an answer and cannot be answered with a ‘yes’ or a ‘no’. They require the person being questioned to contribute some additional information – and thus help the dialogue to move forward.

Consider the contrast: -



Do you …?
Will you … ?
Can you … ?
May we … ?
Shall we … ?
Have you … ?
Could we … ?

Questioning skills

Open questions are not necessarily always appropriate. Sometimes you will want to obtain commitment, confirmation or denial. In these cases, a yes/no question would be appropriate.

Here are some other types of questions: -

Probe Why?
To what extent?
To what degree?
Limited choice
Which do you prefer, A or B?
Link Bearing in mind what you said earlier …
Leading You do agree don’t you … ?

In the next issue of CorporateCoach we shall consider how to ask clean questions – a key skill within a coaching environment.



We have overhauled our books pages to include many more books that you might find useful – also to remove those that are now difficult to get hold of. There are now 160 books included in 21 categories, with reviews, star ratings, current Amazon prices and links to both and

If there are any particular favourites that we have omitted and you would like to recommend, please contact Brefi Group at

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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield