Marshall Goldsmith and Six-Question Coaching

Reality provides all of us with the unique opportunity to derive personal benefit from one of the most knowledgeable and dedicated thought leaders our industry has ever seen. Marshall Goldsmith has a well-honed gift for taking complicated things and making them simple. His mentors, Dr. Paul Hersey, Peter Drucker and several others, possessed similar skills. However, Marshall does so much more than simply translate the sophisticated nuances of human behavior for intellectual consumption by the masses. He repeatedly connects all of us with practitioner role models like Frances Hesselbein and Alan Mulally to firmly establish that understanding leadership and human behavior is one thing, putting that understanding into practice is something altogether different.

Common sense isn’t always common practice!

Marshall Goldsmith’s Six Coaching Questions

Beyond that, he provides us with lists! Lists that are the product of significant thought that place influence-related effectiveness squarely in front of each of us. Consider the following list from his best-selling book “Triggers” (Six-Question Coaching). It is one of many he makes readily available to all of us and it serves as a discussion guide of sorts for “base touching” with key employees throughout the year. Imagine yourself coming across as anything other than brilliant if you posed the following questions during a scheduled performance discussion with a member of your team:

  1. Where are we going?
    • Among other things, you find out the degree to which the person answering is connected to or aligned with your strategy and how much, if any, calibration is needed
  1. Where are you going?
    • Do you like what you’re doing? Is your “contribution to the cause” providing you with a sense of self-satisfaction and self-worth? If so, how come? If not, why?
  1. Are you doing well?
    • Performance wise, what seems to be working out according to plan? Pat yourself on the back for a minute — you deserve to!
  1. Suggestions for improvement?
    • Nobody knows as much about this team/project as you. What adjustments do you think we could make that would accelerate development, increase efficiencies, etc.?
  1. How can I help?
    • What could I be doing to help you and/or members of your team hit their goals and achieve their objectives?
  1. Any suggestions?
    • In general, what am I missing? What should I be doing differently? What am I currently doing that you wish I’d do more of?

It’s truly difficult to imagine a coach at any level of an organization asking some version of these questions on a periodic basis and not improving their coaching proficiency by at least 37%!

Learn More About The Marshall Goldsmith Coaching Process

Interested in learning more about Marshall Goldsmith? Check out our interview with him!


  1. Pull “Triggers” off the shelf (or purchase it) and identify “the list” you feel has the most potential to help you improve.
  2. Put one of Marshall’s visions into action!