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Tool: Coaching charter

Typical use (type of issue/project)

To provide a framework for a coaching programme


Ease of use rating

Used by

Yourself as the coach.

Tips for effective use

Prepare the questions you might use to help the coachee create their own insights. Use the questions to increase your client’s awareness of themselves, their situation, and their possibilities for action.

Signals of successful use

The charter has been designed to support you to coach your colleagues and business leaders in a way that is brain friendly. Therefore, when using the charter successfully you are more likely to see development of new ideas, the increased likelihood of their adoption and ultimately action being taken.

Signals of unsuccessful use

If after completing the coaching programme you feel as if you spent all your time bringing awareness to your client without spending anytime transferring the onus, and allowing them to take action.

Links to other tools

SMART, ROI, Response feedback, and Contracting (Consulting), What’s my purpose, Ways to change state and Powerful questions.


Coaching charter - coaching in a brain friendly way

The charter has been designed to support you to coach your colleagues and business leaders in a way that is brain friendly.  By using the charter, you are more likely to support development of new ideas, increase the likelihood of their adoption and ultimately action being taken. 

Your coaching charter is as follows:

  • Solutions focused
  • Balance between perceived ability and perceived level of challenge (flow)
  • Generates own ideas
  • Reinforces insights
  • Creates new habits.

Solutions focused questions encourage us to build a picture of the future action we would like to take. As we do this, we create new brain networks, so that the desired action becomes more familiar to us. The brain likes familiarity.

Getting the balance between perceived ability and perceived level of challenge right is likely to lead the individual to a state called flow. This is the state that we are in when we do our best work. Make sure that the proposed action is challenging, but not too challenging, in relation to the individual’s perception of their level of ability.

When we generate our own ideas, we have an ‘aha’ moment. The brain likes solving things and as a result, when we do this, pleasant chemicals are released in the brain (such as dopamine). At the same time, those chemicals engender a feeling of energy and help us feel ready to take action.

By reinforcing insights, we are making the brain networks associated with the desired action stronger. The stronger the networks, the easier it is to take action.

The brain likes to form habits. Habitual behavior is controlled by a part of the brain called the basal ganglia. This part of the brain uses less energy and this is why the brain likes familiar actions because it is fuel efficient. As coach, if you can encourage the individual to create new habits then it is more likely that this action will be adopted. Creating new habits happens when a person has:

  • A goal(s) they have defined for themselves
  • A strategy for meeting the goal(s)
  • A means of staying on track and noticing when they are reverting to old behaviours.

Suggested questions for each stage

Following are some example questions for each stage. Use your intuition to determine which the most appropriate question is. There is not a prescriptive order and so it might be appropriate by asking ‘how will this be a challenge for you?’

Solutions focused questions
  • What does success look like?
  • How will you know when you are successful?
  • What are the benefits of achieving your goal?
  • Who can support you?
  • What is your first step?

Check they are challenged
  • How will this be a challenge for you?
  • What is the stretch here for you?
  • How could you make that more challenging?
  • Who can support you if needed?
  • On a scale of 1 to 10, how challenged do you feel?

Questions to generate own ideas
  • What advice would you give to yourself?
  • What is the first step?
  • What question haven’t I asked?
  • What is stopping you?
  • What is the solution?

Reinforce insights
  • What have you learned?
  • What piece of advice would you give to someone else?
  • What insight have you had?
  • What would you differently?
  • What would you do again?

Create new habits
  • How will you continue to do this?
  • How will you make this a habit?
  • What small action would get you to do this?
  • What strategies can you employ to build the habit?
  • How will you know you are going off track?

Notice the type of questions you ask when you are working with others.  Where appropriate, practice asking questions from our coaching charter when you are with HR colleagues, Business Leaders or friends and family.