It's that time of year, 'holiday reads' are appearing in all manner of places. I was prompted to consider this from the perspective of 'coaching' by a conversation with a fellow sailor on the Round the Island race at the weekend (for the non-sailors, while there are many frenetic and busy times racing there are also plenty of sitting and talking ones too!)
Asked, "what are the coaching books you would most recommend?" I was initially a little stumped. I wouldn't class myself as an enthusiastic adherent to any one 'coaching bible', but over a somewhat protracted period (it was quite a long race) I did manage to come up with a list of those books which have most influenced my practice, and I most frequently recommend to others. Given that was the hard work, and I think its a pretty good list of reading I thought I would share them here. I have included some ideas of books I intend to read too.
Just briefly before the list I reflected after writing it on what the qualities of these books are that makes them my "go-to's" and I think they all pretty much:
Give you accessible learning, I'm a big fan of easy-read and ideas explained simply
Provide credible evidence, either scientific or the author's own work
Offer strategies that can be applied to our lives or our work
Are 'human-centred' and give us strategies for change that are based in compassion and generosity
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dr Carol S Dweck
This is often my 'one-read' recommendation at workshops and in coaching work. Whether you perceive you already have a growth mindset or tend more towards fixed the psychology and concepts in here are fundamental to a process of lifelong learning and self-development. For me, the potential of this work to free us up from many behaviours that are not helping us in our learning is epitomised by this blog a couple of years ago by Nicola Richardson during our SportWatch Bristol project.
From Contempt to Curiosity: Creating the conditions for groups to collaborate, Caitlin Walker
Caitlin's book was my first detailed introduction to clean language, and subsequently the techniques and approach have become fundamental to my coaching and facilitating approach. I continue to complete a number of courses with Clean Learning. Another good read on this approach overall is Clean Language: Revealing metaphors and opening minds from Wendy Sullivan and Judy Rees.
Currently I am looking forward to Marian Way's new book with James Lawley, Insights in Space and Tamsin Hartley's The Listening Space: A new path to personal discovery as the latest publications to add to my clean library.
Personality Portraits: The Enneagram Encountered, Amanda Maney & Rachel Watson
A real gem of a short book I was gifted by Amanda when I met her on a Clean Language course. Could be transformational in understanding the core drivers of your personality, re-perceiving 'defects' as strengths and making the most of yourself.
Working Out Loud: for a better career and life, John Stepper
Anyone who knows my work will not be surprised that John's work appears here. Absolutely transformed my approach to connecting and networking to become a generous, contributory act and 'Working Out Loud' really is a key practice for the digital workplace and life.
Quiet: The power of introverts in a world that can't stop talking, Susan Cain
A book that is the subject of a long-term ownership dispute between my best friend and I. This work is a massive help to anyone, like me, who identifies as an introvert. I often meet people at events and in coaching that feel overwhelmed by some of the behaviour expectations in the work environment, Cain offers both understanding and strategies to both develop our own behaviour as introverts and change the expectations.
An Everyone Culture: Becoming a Deliberately Developmental Organization, Robert Kegan and Lisa Laskow Lahey
When working with new and existing organisations the idea of being 'deliberately developmental' is for me key and this is the seminal book. I am looking forward to following this up with Immunity to Change: How to overcome it and unlock the potential in yourself and your organization by the same authors and eventually getting to grips with Reinventing Organizations: A guide to creating organizations inspired by the next stage of human consciousness, by Frederic Laloux.
Happiness by Design: change what you do, not how you think, Paul Dolan
Habits are a much talked about goal in coaching and Dolan's work on 'designing it in' is a great way to look at how we optimise the world around us to achieve that. The Power of Habit: Why we do what we do and how to change from Charles Duhigg also offers good understanding here. On the design front my summer reading this year will finally include What Works: Gender Equality by Design by Iris Bohnet.
And my other new recommendation from that sailing chat that I want to read is Legacy: what the all blacks can teach us about the business of life, by James Kerr. I simultaneously love books about sport and sporting lessons while remaining more than healthily sceptical about the applicability of many sporting approaches to wider life so I am looking forward to where this one falls for me!
More book recommendations welcome - enjoy your reading!