Patricia Bossons PhD, Jeremy Kourdi,Denis Sartain, (2009) A & C Black: London.
The authors of Coaching Essentials: Practical, Proven Techniques for World-Class Executive Coaching are experienced teachers, trainers of coaches as well as being practising Executive Coaches themselves. They have learned a lot over their careers and they all agreed that a good conversation is one that is “…non-directive, non-judgemental and full of…’unconditional regard’” (p. 4). However they felt that with the publications of the HBS Review research on What Can Coaches do For You? (Diane Coutu and Carol Kauffman), it was time to review the current situation or context of professional executive coaching, as it appears that there is a lack of ‘unanimity about coaching’, with coaches disagreeing over why they’re hired, what they do and how to measure success.
There is little doubt in the authors minds that coaching and the reasons why companies engage coaches have altered and the aforementioned report details them. What the authors do agree is that there is a growing perception amongst executives that if a company provides a coach then it is seen as a mark of value on them individually and is appreciated. The remit of the coach, for which this current book was written, is to compliment other leadership development and help executives to:
– Lead people as productively as possible;
– Devise a programme of self-development based on day-to-day issues;
– Create a plan or strategy for improving skills;
– Prepare and implement plans for their personal, professional and career development;
– Review progress to ensure that the maximum learning is taken from each situation or experience.
The book is divided into four separate parts and the review will briefly look at each now.
Part 1 – explains what is required (including an introduction to the essential skills) to be a successful coach. The case is set out for coaching by the authors, explaining what coaches do and what they avoid. The authors forward a couple of coaching premises: that they establish clear relationship boundaries, engage in powerful questions, participate in the discussion of issues while challenging client’s basic assumptions. They use models and techniques and throughout summarise, reframe, set goals for the future and keep in touch with these goals. Coaches need to be clear about their intent as they enter a coaching relationship. Listening and empathy skills are core requirements for success and suggestions are made as to how they might be improved. Techniques for improving listening skills are also given, with advice on planning the first session to ensuring that coaching roles and responsibilities are clear to all. Research has clearly indicated that personal issues are significant and may need to be engaged with and a coach should follow a clear process – from the setting of goals to the completion of administration and paperwork., to the reinforcement of confidentiality and where that might take you when you are coaching in an organisational capacity.
Part 2 addresses the typical challenges that coaches might encounter and range from the complex to the simple. The necessity of adopting a right approach when handling the issues is important and to support this, explanations of different issues are provided, possible questions for coaches are provided for each circumstance and techniques which may help are suggested.
Part 3 concerns itself with the difficult challenges for coaches, the identification of the challenges, the issues that are needed to be considered and possible solutions that might be put forward. The range of challenges that face coaches can be wide-ranging, with the really ‘daunting’ not very common.
Part 4 The authors provide a range of coaching tools and techniques, ranging from Myers-Briggs and SWOT tests. Some are well known and others not so but all proven successful tools and techniques. Each is summarised with guidance about the type and application circumstances they might be suited to , thus arming the coach to engage very effectively with any situation and levels of complexity, with a variety of proven tools and techniques.
Part 5 is the final part and the authors provide an extensive bibliography and reference to further readings.
In all this publication has much to offer the practised coach. In particular this book offers a level of comfort to a coach about to enter a new relationship or perhaps struggling to plan ahead for the next meeting in a challenging context.
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