Brilliant Coaching: Book Review

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Non-fiction books with no fluff is a rarity. They provide you with great ideas, and every page is worth something! Brilliant Coaching by Julie Starr is one such book! It’s just 195 pages and has got nice short chapters focussing on specific topics.

It mainly aims towards helping managers be good coaches but has got great pieces of advice that anyone can use in coaching like scenarios.

The book is divided into four sections, viz. Awareness, Ability, Application and Action. Each of these is further divided into small chapters dealing with a specific topic. Each chapter has ‘brilliant tip’, ‘brilliant questions’ and ‘brilliant recap’ sections..suits the title of the book!!

The ‘Awareness’ section talks about what is coaching, the mindset of a ‘coaching manager’ and a very good chapter on ‘ego’!

Unlike a mentor who is more involved in the content of the communication, a coach is more focused on the process and supports the person’s own thinking process.  Listening, questioning, feedback and reflection are the crucial skills for a coach. The scale of influence with ‘directive’ on one extreme and ‘self directed’ on the other extreme is explained with some real life examples! The spectrum changes from ‘I know how’, ‘I tell you’ and ‘You follow instruction’ to ‘You know how’, ‘I as you’ and ‘You decide’ respectively from Directive to Self-directed Influence. Sometimes the styles need to be blended and a coach would mostly develop his own ‘flexible’ style. And this is explained with great examples in the book!

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The mindset section explains that managers who coach encourage others to think and act for themselves. The ‘brilliant tip’  is ‘Stop telling, Start Asking’. The chapter on ‘ego’ was short yet written beautifully. Ego is not your real self but a constructed idea of our self. A coach’s responses should not not be limited by the idea of who they think are or are not. The influence of your values or opinions must be reduced while coaching and the coach needs to enter the coachee’s world.

The application part talks about these skills for good coaches..

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And each one is explained in dedicated chapters. There are some exercises to practice questioning and listening and sample questions! The author reckons great questions turn keys, unlock doors and provokes insights for the person.  The section where he has given examples of questions which serve a specific purpose is quite handy.

Open questions are encouraged instead of closed ones (which can be answered in just ‘Yes’ or ‘No’). Watching your voice and setting your tone can change the mood of the question completely… another ‘brilliant tip’!!

The feedback chapter concentrates more about giving feedback rather than receiving. It highlights how giving feedback can be stressful as well! The author advises to not think about what you don’t want to portray or say (for e.g. some ‘judgemental’ words ) while giving feedback because its natural for anyone to simply do what we are asked not to do!

Its a good read!!

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