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Book Reviews

Why book reviews? You can get a good understanding of what we offer at Resu-mazing Services Company by learning about the literature on our shelves that inform the Resu-mazing coaching practice. Enjoy!

Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others
By James Flaherty

James Flaherty’s Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others is a comprehensive resource for coaches and leaders who want to learn more about coaching, its tools and its practices. In its third edition, the book has become a respected work, largely in part for its rich library of advice and step-by-step instruction on basic and intermediate coaching conversations. An interested manager or supervisor can learn much and plan well for coaching discussions by following the examples presented in Chapter 9: Coaching Conversations.  

There is much worth reading and considering before getting to that point, though. Flaherty shares his considerable expertise by explaining the structure of coaching, the nature and features of the coaching relationship, and steps to initiate coaching experiences.  

Interestingly, Flaherty also offers pointed criticisms of methodologies that he views as ineffective and manipulative, and he is not afraid to name names. One book in particular, Coaching for Improved Work Performance by Ferdinand Fournies, receives special treatment. Flaherty takes Fournies to task for his simplistic operant conditioning method not once, but twice. He goes so far as to list this work in one of the chapter bibliographies, noting that it is presented as something not to do. Having read that book at the urging of a senior executive earlier in my career, I have to agree with Flaherty’s assessment.  

Speaking of bibliographies, this is a wonderful feature of Flaherty’s volume. Each chapter ends with a list of titles he recommends (or not) for those interested in pursuing the chapter’s topic further. Each recommendation includes an explanation of why Flaherty thinks it is worthwhile. This reading list could keep anyone busy for years.  

If you are going to own just a few books about coaching, this one is worthy of your consideration. It might be the only one you need.    

Executive Coaching with Backbone and Heart
By Mary Beth O’Neill

O’Neill’s Executive Coaching is a book written for professional coaches by a professional coach, so it likely will not offer much to those who don’t call themselves coaches, but for those who coach leaders, it is invaluable. The author condenses her experiences coaching senior organizational leaders and presents a roadmap for making these special coaching relationships effective.  

O’Neill clearly wrote this book as a resource to which coaches can return often to refresh and prepare for the next assignment. Beyond her sound advice concerning the coach’s professional stature and presence, she moves into step-by-step systems designed to engage clients quickly in productive coaching conversations with a focus on results. Each chapter ends with a summary that makes finding material easy. The occasional review of the chapter summaries could help keep a coach sharp.  

The author leaves few stones unturned as she also explains how to approach specialized coaching assignments and engagements. These include group coaching and other configurations. She does not just offer concepts, though. With every situation we get an example dialogue that illustrates her points. A close reading of these conversations will enrich the reader’s experience and better prepare him or her for the next coaching task.  

Finally, be sure to visit the appendices, as they are also full of useful ideas, tips and tools. The second, for example, offers pages of questions to ask leaders during the coaching conversation. Coaches who work with organizational leaders should own this book and use it. Much time and effort can be saved by learning from a professional who has walked the path before.