Book Thoughts – Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide

Are you new to the idea of coaching? A coach in training? Or an ‘old hand’ who thinks you’ve been coaching all your life but never got round to formal study?

Well, if you’re looking for a reliable overview of the field of coaching, Excellence in Coaching: The Industry Guide (3rd Edition 2016)  is the book for you. Edited by coach psychologist Jonathan Passmore and endorsed by the Association for Coaching, this volume brings together introductory articles by top thinkers and practitioners in their fields.

You won’t become a professional coach based on reading what’s between these covers, but you’ll certainly be more informed about standard definitions and theories, as well as know where to turn to next. Read the book straight through or dip in here and there to learn about particular topics, it’s up to you. Either way, you’ll find something to educate you and make you think.

Topics covered include:

  • what coaching is (particularly in organisations)
  • coaching programme planning and evaluation
  • leveraging of investment in coaching
  • how to set up a coaching practice
  • the gist of several coaching models and approaches, including Behavioural (the GROW model), Cognitive Behavioural, Solution-Focused, NLP, Transpersonal, Appreciative, and Integrative
  • topical coaching issues such as intercultural coaching, ethics and integrity, coach supervision, and coach accreditation

To me, the book has three key strengths:

1. Coaching models and approaches are presented via a simple standard format This makes it easy to meaningfully compare each model/approach, whilst allowing the authors the flexibility to write in their own style to cover as much or as little complexity as they think appropriate. The format covers:

  • explanation
  • when does it work best?
  • tools and techniques
  • ten key questions to guide your way
  • summary

pixabay-seated-figures-questioning-776670_12802. Providing ‘Ten key questions to guide your way’  Coaching models and approaches, whatever their differences, are invariably based on listening and questioning. It’s therefore helpful for the experts to follow their explanations of their fields with the ten questions which they think can impact a practitioner’s coaching the most. Coaching is above all a practical intervention, and a strength of the book is ensuring points of learning which will have a practical impact on coaching practice.

3. Emphasis on providing guidance on sound planning & business processes  You may not agree, but in my experience most coaches do what they do because they love the interpersonal communication with coachees, coupled with the satisfaction provided by facilitating individuals and teams to become the best they can be. Few coaches would put at the top of their ‘energiser’ list ‘business planning’, ‘programme planning’, ‘programme evaluation’ and ‘calculating ROI’. Nevertheless, being able to keep on top of these functions is important. Without planning, evaluation and an idea of how to demonstrate return on investment, individual coaching businesses will fail and internal organisational coaching provision will flounder. When economic times get tough (as they do and will), the value of coaching needs to be demonstrable in financial terms or it will face ‘the chop’… And who amongst the many freelance or company-owning coaches shouldn’t know how to structure and run their businesses optimally? Even if they outsource much of the actual work? Not me, for one…

Now, I wouldn’t say  Excellence in Coaching  is exactly an ‘entertaining read’, which some people might find a bit of a drawback. Even so, for those wanting standard uncomplicated information on a whole range of coaching topics from impeccable authoritative sources, this volume can’t be faulted.

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