Coaches Help Leaders Mind Their “Ps and Qs”

Coaches Help Leaders Mind Their “Ps and Qs”

Some of us were taught at a young age to “mind our Ps and Qs.”

There are multiple theories about the origin and meaning of the term Ps and Qs.

Maybe it was a parent, or teacher or neighbor, but the message intended by those I heard was: Mind your manners, or your language, or your own business.

It was code for reminding someone to be on their best behavior.

Today we might call it a reminder to be our best self.

One of my areas of specialty over the years has been coaching leaders of systems, especially those trying to lead planned organizational change processes.

Whether one is leading a congregation, a judicatory, a non-profit organization, or a business; one coaching approach I like is to help leaders mind their Ps and Qs. I’ll explain.


There are three Ps that are vital to coaching a leader through times of organizational (or nearly any) change.

And bundled with the Ps are questions (the Qs!) that help the coach assist the leader in gaining clarity about each of the Ps.


  1. Purpose
    • Q: How clear is the client/leader about why the change process is happening? How clearly was it stated to all stakeholders, and how much ongoing visibility and transparency and communication continues throughout the change process?
    • Q: How clear is the client/leader about their own role in the change process, including their awareness of what is their work to do, and what is the work of co-change agents or the system at large?
    • Q: If there is evidence of role confusion, what needs to be understood better to gain clarity of purpose and role?
  2. Perspective
    • Q: What evidence is there that the client/leader is maintaining healthy perspective—about themselves and their own wellbeing, about the level of engagement or stress in the organizational system, about what’s possible in a given timeframe, about their own motivations, about the levels of resistance or confusion, etc.?
    • Q: What patterns or resources need to be put in place to help the client/leader maintain ongoing perspective?
  3. Presence
    • Q: Does the client/leader seem present in the coaching sessions?
    • Q: What evidence is there that the client/leader is staying mindful in their role with the organizational system?
    • Q: How does the client/leader describe their success or difficulty engaging the system in the way they had hoped?


There are certainly many more questions one could add to the Qs listed above.

As with all good executive coaching, the coach’s role is to help the client/leader move forward in achieving the agreed-upon goals of the coaching engagement.

The temptation with coaching client/leaders for organizational change is the many opportunities for the coach to help the client “fix” the presenting issue.

That is usually a trap since the coach’s work is to consistently coach the person and not the problem.

Sometimes we call these “problems” the shiny object.


Running alongside a client/leader chasing a shiny object is not the coach’s work.

Rather it is about helping the client/leader learn how to:


For additional information on CLL coaching programs such as The Coaching Institute or Mentor Coaching Online, click HERE.


Philip C. Bergey, PhD, PCC, EPC is a senior design partner and executive coach with Design Group International. He lives near Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Design Group International is a group of consultants who have chosen to be part of a community that is committed to the craft of process consulting. Process consulting is our shared foundation, approach, and framework. For more information, go to:

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