NOTE: As of 2022 the Center for Executive Coaching is now accredited with the ICF as a Level 2 Coach Training Organization. The ICF has changed their language and replaced ACTP with Level 2. We were among the first group of coach training programs to receive this accreditation, after a rigorous review by the ICF.

Appreciative Inquiry – a key coaching conversation for executive coaches

Appreciative Inquiry is a key conversation with which certified executive coaches should be proficient. Appreciative inquiry focuses on asking powerful questions about what’s working, gaining momentum, building on strengths, and creating positive possibilities. If you want to achieve your executive coaching certification with us, part of our curriculum includes training in appreciative inquiry. At the Center for Executive Coaching, you learn a variety of coaching tools and methods. Appreciative inquiry is one of them. Following is a list of illustrative appreciative inquiry coaching questions, including a few examples of not so appreciative coaching. If you like this content and are serious about achieving certified executive coach status, please review our programs. We suggest you start with our core distance learning program, which includes our full curriculum and resources. You can add the additional ICF training for an ICF designation, and also choose to attend an upcoming intensive seminar. Enjoy the list that follows and please reach out anytime with questions:

Not So Appreciative Appreciative Examples
What’s in your way? What can you do to move forward?
What are you most worried about/afraid of? What are you most excited about?
How have you contributed to this problem? What do you control that will make a difference?
What have you tried? What have you tried that is working well and you can build on?
When have you experienced a similar issue in the past? What’s another similar experience you have had that worked out well, that might hold clues to moving forward here?
What are weak areas you have to shore up? What are your strengths and talents that you can build upon?
What are the risks you have to address? How can you increase the odds of success?
What can go wrong? What can go right?
  What’s a simple experiment you can try to learn more? Or: What’s one small step you can take to move forward?
  What becomes possible when you achieve your goal? … How will you feel when that happens?
  What is one thing that’s working in your favor?
  Who can you go to for support?
  What resources can you access?
  What do you appreciate about this person/situation?
  If you could make anything happen in this situation, what would that be?
  I just noticed a positive change in your energy…Would you like to talk about that?
  What’s a vision that gets you really excited about this situation?
  Who is one person you admire and know could get through this? … What would they do in this situation?
  What would you hope your colleagues/Board says about you after you are successful in this situation?
  What matters most to you in this situation? … In the short-term?… Long-term?
  What does your team/company do that is best in class and that can help in this situation?
  Tell the story, as if it has already happened, about how you achieved a successful outcome in this situation.




Army Corp of Engineers

Ascension Health


Bank of America


Best Buy

Booz Allen


Bristol-Myers Squibb

Brown University

Capital One


Charles Schwab & Co.

Children’s Hospital Colorado






Duke Energy

Galveston Independent School District

General Atomics

General Electric


Harvard Business School

Home Depot

Inland Steel

International Red Cross

Johnson and Johnson



Laser Spine Institute

Lexis Nexis

Liberty Mututal



Mckinsey Consulting





National Basketball Association (NBA)




Partners Healthcare


Procter & Gamble

Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC)

Ralph Lauren


Rice University

Ross Stores

Russell Reynolds Associates

Schneider Electric

Shell Oil

SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory


The Ohio State University

Tom’s Shoes

United Nations

University of Florida



US Air Force

US Army

US Army Medical Corps

US Marines

US Navy






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