The Cheddar on the Mousetrap

In The Coaching Habit, author Michael Stanier uses the metaphor of cheddar on a mousetrap to illustrate what it’s like when someone asks you, “What do you think I should do about… ?“

The cheddar is alluring and hard to resist. 

In coaching, one of the biggest challenges is NOT fall into this advice trap.

Likewise, as a leader, your team members will come to you for answers to their problems.

There’s a time and place for sharing advice. “The goal isn’t to avoid ever providing an answer”.

What Stanier wants – is for us to get better at having people find their own answers.

One strategy that he offers (when asked the advice question) is to reply, “That’s a great question. I’ve got some ideas, which I’ll share with you. But before I do, what are your first thoughts?”

This technique creates a brainstorming session between you and the advice seeker that continues to generate “THEIR” ideas as you probe, “What else?”

Once he or she has exhausted their ideas, only then can you offer your own – if you wish.

After you’ve suggested an idea or solution, then ask, “What do you think?”

This brings the conversation back to the individual, “shining the light” on them and their inner wisdom.

Great coaches and leaders empower others to come up with their own ideas, solutions, or new ways of thinking.

How do you respond when the cheddar is on the mousetrap?