19 Oct, 2011
Book Review: The Coaching Manual by Julie Starr
Posted by: The Coaching Academy In: Book Reviews
The Coaching Manual – The Definitive Guide to the Process, Principles and Skills of Personal Coaching
As a recent acquisition, this book has not yet entered the shadowy depths of my bookshelf. It has become a constant companion and trusted friend. At risk of appearing over-keen, I feel well able to justify my enthusiasm for this comprehensive and navigable text.
I thank my assessor for her recommendation when I sought a practical guide to using intuition as a key coaching skill – an area for development highlighted by my final practical assessment.
I fit into the category of learner coach who has reached the stage of conscious competence. I have occasional ‘whoopeedoo’ and ‘va va voom’ moments when I deliver a great coaching session to the very best of my ability. My ambition now is to increase the frequency and consistency of those moments.
The 3rd edition of The Coaching Manual was published earlier this year and is, in my view, a must read for personal coaches, whether new to coaching or long experienced.
The book is, as its title suggests, a manual covering all the essentials of coaching (and much more besides). It integrates well with the GROW model. Its format is highly accessible with each chapter containing checklists, toolkit elements, figurative process overviews, illustrative coaching dialogues and ‘Try it yourself’ exercises and questions.
Summaries are standard throughout the chapters and the sample coaching conversations are interspersed with explanations and insights that are very transferable to practice. For me, this manual delivers as close to an interactive workshop as it is possible for written text to deliver.
With its high readability factor, the book can be digested in a couple of sittings and its format will likely encourage you to keep dipping in and out. Chapters are clearly defined and logical in their sequence. Intuition is covered within Chapter 4, Fundamental skills of coaching, where Julie Starr describes it as ‘an ability we all have, and one we can develop into a skill. For a coach, it becomes something they rely upon, to help shape and guide a coaching conversation.’… ‘Intuition is simply an access to our brain’s potential to provide guidance and information free from the confines of our limited conscious mind’.
She also includes the pitfalls of intuition and, in so doing, models a characteristic of the book that is praise worthy – it provides a balanced perspective using straight-talking prose. Chapter 5 is totally dedicated to Barriers to coaching.
As a collector of powerful and purposeful questions, I have marked several pages in Chapter 4 and regard Chapter 6, Coaching conversations: the coaching path as a treasure-trove. Combine these with the drive to ‘Get specific! What, where, when, with whom?’ in Chapter 7 and the fit with GROW becomes palpable.
Promoting the need to sharpen goals, Julie Starr uses ‘I want more energy’ as one example of a goal that is too vague. She suggests coaching questions that get to the specifics:
- When do you want more energy specifically?
- Is there some activity or time you’d specifically like more energy for?
- How much more energy?
- With whom?
- Which situations do you want more energy in?
This is but one of several sets of questions presented within this chapter that moves through, in detail, the structure and process of coaching.
My chosen extracts may not do justice to the book. If you haven’t read it, please consider adding it to your bookshelf within easy reach of your armchair or desk.
Reviewed by Dawn Clissett