The Coaching Connection: A Manager’s Guide to Developing Individual Potential in the Context of the Organization
By Paul J. Gorrell and John Hoover
This is a well-written book. It is obvious that a lot of thought went into its construction. The book can serve as an introduction to what has long been common practice among seasoned consultants engaged in the facilitation of culture change. One cannot expect to have much impact as a change agent without a close working relationship with the CEO or other C-level executives. The strength of the book is that it provides an outline of what might be called “leverage points” for helping a client to be a more effective leader within the context of the corporation. For readers who want to know more on the subject of organizational change, or how to become a more effective coach, I will offer some references below.
My perspective in this review is from 40 years of working with executives and facilitating culture change efforts in a long list of corporations. The basic idea of the book is correct. Managers who apply these suggestions in their efforts to develop others will find value in the chapter-by-chapter outline of applications and considerations. The structure provides a framework for more effective development of managers or other employees with potential. The ideas here can help improve employees’ effectiveness within their corporate roles. Helping the sub-manager or any other employee to see more clearly and to work more effectively within the context of the company is very important! At the executive level, coaching a person on the thinking, planning, and behavior of C-level executives is also key to successful change efforts within corporations.
Having stated what I find to be strengths of this book, I will give my concerns. If I compare the writing here with other books on related topics, The Coaching Connection reads more like an academic text. I did not find the clinical evidence that should be required of such an interpersonal discipline. The intention here appears to be to provide an intellectual framework for better understanding on how to guide managers in the task of developing others. I am seriously concerned, however, about the proliferation of “coaches” with little or no clinical understanding of either the circumstances they uncover or the implications or limitations of what they suggest. As a reader, I was bothered by the too frequent references to the authors’ products. I began to wonder if this was written as part of a marketing effort to increase the sales of their 360 instrument or their own services as coaches or trainers of coaches.
Additional books to consider:
Edgar Schein’s Process Consultation, Building the Helping Relationship, should be required reading for anyone who aspires to coach others or to facilitate change within organizations. Professor Schein has a deep background with clinical perspective. Any of Schein’s books are worth reading!
I think that among the very best books on coaching is David Rock’s Quiet Leadership: Six Steps to Transforming Performance at Work.
The Heart of Change, by John Kotter and Dan Cohen, gives many examples of how to guide people through an eight-step change process.
The co-founder of Fast Company magazine, William C. Taylor, has written a fascinating book on how individuals can transform the corporate experience. His new book, Practically Radical, delivers clear examples in companies with names we all recognize. It is worth the price, and worth the read!