September 2019
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Coaches Need Coaches, Too

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

Coaches Need Coaches Too


Coaches Need Coaches, Too Helping People Change: Coaching with Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth

By Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, and Ellen Van Oosten
Harvard Business Review Press, 256 pp., $30

Regardless of a leader's profession or content area, it is almost a standard requirement that they be able to coach those with whom they work. Developing effective coaching skills takes longer than most preparation programs provide. Helping People Change is an excellent support for those wishing to reflect upon, develop, and hone their coaching skills and strategies.

The book starts with a call for reflection and introspection. Based on their research, the authors are adamant that the best way to help others is by "helping them move closer to their ideal self." That's accomplished by helping people identify their dreams, aspirations, and visions. As they work with the coach, individuals will experience changes that move them closer to their desired realities, and they will build resonant relationships.

The authors encourage coaches to help individuals figure out what is possible—or even desirable—within their lives and to take actions and help individuals determine how to achieve their aspirations. These interactions are not done in the same ways that a mentor guides a protégé; they are short in nature and more intense in focus.


The transformative aspect of this book is that it encourages people to do things that don't come easily or that they aren't predisposed to doing. The authors encourage coaches to help others dare to dream, find joy and gratitude in their lives, consider relationships beyond what is seen and heard, and take opportunities for growth and seize the moment for forward progression. It's not difficult in theory, but these are definitely behaviors that most of us do not allow ourselves to engage in on a regular basis.

What I really enjoyed about the text was that the incredibly useful information was backed up with content derived from research, as well as literature related to coaching. These supports are presented in a user-friendly way—one that does not require readers to have an uber-advanced degree to understand. Additionally, reflection and application exercises enable readers to apply the content within their daily lives.

Change is a journey—not a destination—to move from what is to what could be. The book's focus on conversations, compassion, dreaming, listening, and supporting individuals and communities, as well as the neurological aspects to all those areas, pack a great deal of practical content into 256 pages.

About the Author

Mark Deschaine is an associate professor in the University of Mississippi’s Department of Leadership and Counselor Education.

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