Why every leader needs to read ‘The Coaching Habit’ (with or without a pina colada)

Debasish Mridha once said – “To find yourself, lose yourself in search of knowledge and love.” 

I love how you can lose yourself in a good book.

I’m on holiday in Fiji at the moment, and losing myself sounds like a plan. So I’m devouring books like they are pina coladas (although to be fair, I’m devouring my fair share of those as well).

Lost in Fiji...

Lost in Fiji…

As far as leadership books go, I have a particular penchant for simple books that are practical. But actually, who likes really hard-to-read books that are impractical anyway?!

This is why I’m a huge fan of The Coaching Habit – Say Less, Ask More and Change the Way you Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier.

Whenever I start coaching an executive, I recommend several leadership books – a sort of ‘textbook list’ like your professor doled out when you rocked up in your first year at University.  This book list currently includes:

Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown

Spiral Up: The 5 Co-Creative Powers for Women on the Rise
by Wendy Wallbridge (if you’re a female leader – or a bloke who is really in touch with his feminine side)

Not Knowing: The Art of Turning Uncertainty into Possibility by Steven D’Souza and Diana Renner

A Beautiful Constraint: How To Transform Your Limitations Into Advantages by Adam Morgan and Mark Barden

I’ll now be adding The Coaching Habit to that list. Sidebar: next year, I’ll be adding my own book to that list (eek and yay), but that’s a story for another day.

What’s good about Bungay Stanier’s The Coaching Habit? Here are just three reasons why every leader needs to read it:

  1. The questions Michael suggests leaders use to coach their team members are so simple – yet incredibly powerful. I won’t do a spoiler, but one of them, “what’s the real challenge here for you?”  I’ve been using with my clients, with stellar results.
  2. It’s written like the witty Bungay Stanier is sitting down, having a yarn with you over a beer in a cosy armchair by the fire. Which makes it accessible. Which makes it more likely to be read by a busy, time-poor executive who “just wants some help please.”
  3. And whilst we are on the topic of time, one of the biggest myths that managers have around coaching is that it takes too much time. This book knocks that myth on the head with a four by two.  In its pages are many, many tools for how you can have a powerful coaching conversation in less time than it takes to say “show me your spreadsheet.”

So dilly dally no more.  Click here to get yourself a copy. Read it, and most importantly, give the questions a go and see which ones work the best (and let Michael and me know what you think.)

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Suzi McAlpine

Suzi McAlpine is a Leadership Development Specialist and author of the award-winning leadership blog, The Leader’s Digest. She writes and teaches about accomplished leadership, what magic emerges when it’s present, and how to ignite better leadership in individuals, teams and organisations. Suzi has been a leader and senior executive herself, working alongside CEOs and executive teams in a variety of roles. Her experience has included being a head-hunter, an executive coach, and a practice leader for a division at the world’s largest HR consulting firm. Suzi provides a range of services as a Leadership Development Specialist, including executive coaching, leadership workshops and development programmes for CEOs, leadership teams and organisations throughout New Zealand.

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