Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others Paperback – Aug 26 2005
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"As the field of coaching finds its way to becoming a mature discipline, James Flaherty's dedicated field research, study, and sound articulation offers a definitive ground and a sensibility of genuine care. At the core this book offers a way of thinking about human beings that makes action and practice central to learning. This is a no-nonsense, generous, pragmatic book that belongs on the shelf every coach, novice or veteran."
-- Richard Strozzi-Heckler, Ph.D., Founder of Somatic Coaching and author of The Anatomy of Change and Holding The Center
"In Ancient Rome Mark Anthony approached Julius Caesar and posed a question about the Patrician Guards who patrolled and kept the city safe. His compelling question was 'Ipso custodies custodiet?' - 'Who guards the guards?' It was an incisive query that might well be asked today of the scope and license that coaches have with their clients. James Flaherty asks that question of us as coaches in a unique and inescapable way. As a master coach and teacher of coaches James Flaherty provides an irreplaceable role - a vital pilot light on the limitless directions that coaches might consider taking. His book frames deep questions about how humans operate across a series of interconnected domains such as the mind, body and emotions, which will give both new and experienced coaches pause to reflect. He frames crisp distinctions about the coaching process which will generate new perspectives on the role of the coach. He leaves a trail of deeply researched threads that the reader can explore after reading to deepen their knowledge and understanding. All of this is done in a crisp and quietly elegant dialogue which makes you believe he is present as you are inspired to explore, with profound curiosity, your own beliefs on what we are as human beings and how we should show up as coaches. As you read and digest his coaching metaphors, analogies and questions there are inexplicable possibilities that crystallize, fresh insights that emerge and a renewed commitment to explore oneself and the coaching we strive to master."
-- Craig O'Flaherty, Director, Centre for Coaching, Graduate School of Business, University of Cape Town, South Africa
"This extraordinary book clearly represents James Flaherty's ability to insightfully enable the self-generating and self-correcting capacities of his clients. His clarity and candor engage the reader to more deeply examine the opportunities to live a more integrated and holistic life."
--Michele Goins, Vice President and Chief Information Officer, Imaging and Printing Group, Hewlett-Packard Company
"James Flaherty focuses on the commonly overlooked fact that a coachee is a "human-being." He effectively emphasizes that this is
the most important aspect that a coach should always have in mind, something that many of us tend to forget.
It was this tact that he applies toward coaching, as well as many other brilliant insights, that helped me make the decision to publish Coaching in Japanese and apply its lessons in my practice."
-- Mamoru Itoh, President, Coach21 Co., Ltd., Tokyo, Japan
"In Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others, James Flaherty brilliantly dissects both the art and science of coaching -- one of the more difficult and least understood roles in organizations. Beginning with theories, concepts and models he shows their application to practice and empowers any aspiring coach to be more effective in helping people achieve their goals. A better book on this subject just doesn't exist."
-- Jerry I Porras, Lane Professor of Organizational Behavior and Change Emeritus, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University and Co-Author, Built to Last
Second edition of best seller that has sold over 27,000 copies to dateSee all Product Description
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Meanwhile, if you're a serious practitioner (or serious about getting into coaching), don't let the style scare you off. This one is a gem, with an ontological bent, and packed with practical models and exercises. James' book is the result of a lifetime of study, decades of coaching, and integration of diverse intellectual traditions, including hermeneutics, phenomenology, pragmatism, the arts, and Zen.
I have studied under James and my only wish is that his sharp (and sometimes goofy) sense of humor and amazing gift for story-telling had come through in his book. Perhaps in his next book.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One caveat, this book looks just as much at the growth of the coach as it does at the growth of the client. In fact, the author asserts that failed coaching often stems from a coaches inability to completely appreciate the client for who s/he is (their motivations, world interpretation, etc.); this falls under the topic of Relationship in the book, and essentially discusses the meaning and importance of mutual appreciation, respect and freedom of expression. He advocates self discovery and continued growth of the coach; allowing yourself to learn from your client while they learn from you.
In summary, the book moves us away from simply using techniques and models as our "catch all" coaching tools and moves us towards understanding the unique human being, their unique situation, their unique drive, their unique interpretation of the world, etc. The author also encourages coaches to understand their own humanity, including their own mortality, so that our connections with our clients are more solid and hopefully more fruitful.
Although the author does provide some assessment model examples, don't expect a step by step coaching program from this work. The author throws out ideas to stimulate our own thinking about ourselves and our clients' needs. It is left up to us to put the theories, suggestions and ideas into a workable form that can be used in our coaching practices.
A note on the heavy, textbook quality of this work: It is just that. It is an amazing, thought provoking work, but it's college textbook like quality (the author does begin to throw in humor around page 90 or so) can be a little rough to get through (hence the 4 out of 5 stars).
If you don't mind free-flowing structure that allows you to draw your own conclusions, or are looking for a humanistic view on this sector of consulting, then this work is for you.
Despite numerous references intended to persuade us of the foundations for the author's positions, Flaherty includes questionable material in this book which he acknowledges will be controversial. The section on body types is, in my view, ludicrous stereotyping. My field is medical technology, and when I read that "ectomorphs are tall, thin, long-limbed, long-necked folks... people of this body type often have complex and highly wrought nervous systems," I cringed. What is a highly wrought nervous system? Where is the scientific evidence to support this? Basing assumptions on people's "body type" is fraught with danger, not the least of which is being dead wrong. More importantly, what in the world does this have to do with coaching, unless perhaps if you are a fitness coach or physical therapist. It might then have some dubious merit, but Flaherty is suggesting that coaches, generally, consider these "factors." On the other hand, coaching awareness of one's physical body and its signals and responses to internal and external influences certainly has merit.
The author also goes out of his way to demean the views of Ferdinand Fournies, whose book Coaching for Improved Work Performance he apparently views as competition to his own. He dismisses Fournies as a behaviorist and suggests his coaching advice belittles those being coached. Yet Flaherty frequently remarks that you must deal with observable behavior. What's more, he acknowledges that "when someone declines coaching," but you are still responsible for their results, "I recommend that you use traditional management procedures," with "clarity about outcomes and the consequences for not reaching those outcomes." In short, he says you should do what Fournies, much more eloquently and sensitively, advocates.
There is a great deal a reader on the subject might gain from Flaherty's book, but I would not recommend it in isolation. After reading it, I was surprised at the numerous glowing and uncritical reviews it received. Read it WITH Fournies' book - the two are not contradictory. But if you are only going to read one book on coaching, read John Whitmore's 3rd edition of Coaching for Performance, a brilliantly straightforward, unpretentious, and exceedingly pragmatic view of how we can help others realize their potential in most relationships. If by chance you are coaching salespeople, also read Managing Major Sales, by Neil Rackham and Richard Ruff.
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