Putting together a list of excellent books on any subject is always a highly subjective exercise. Nonetheless it is often useful to try to sort through the clutter and at least try to assemble some worthy nominations based on a book’s quality or popular appeal (and all the books on this list have regularly topped the best selling and popular lists internationally and all carry between 4 and 5 star ratings on Amazon.com). The list of Top 20 of the best books on Coaching and Mentoring below includes only those written in the last 5 years (2007-2012). The list also includes several excellent books that are in their 2nd, 3rd, 4th and even 5th printing in this time frame. The top 20 list contains several veteran authors who have written many books on the subject of coaching. These include Sir John Whitmore, Marshall Goldsmith, Peter Hawkins, Thomas Crane and Tony Stoltzfus.
The top twenty list below is rendered in reverse date order. A short description of the book is provided but much more information can be obtained by clicking on the book image (which takes the interested reader to the www.amazon.com page for each book).
The Top 20:
1. Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the FACTS, by John Blakey and Ian Day, 2012
- Challenging Coaching is a provocative book which encourages coaches to move beyond the limitations of traditional coaching. The authors detail their unique FACTS coaching model, which provides a practical and pragmatic approach focusing on Feedback, Accountability, Courageous goals, Tension, and Systems thinking. Using this model enables the reader to enter the zone of uncomfortable debate that sustainably transforms individual and bottom-line performance. The authors explore FACTS coaching in theory and in practice using case studies, example dialogues, and practical exercises so that the reader will be able to successfully challenge others using respectful yet direct techniques.
2. The Five Minute Coach: Coaching Others to High Performance in As Little As Five Minutes, by Lynne Cooper and Mariette Castellino, 2012
- The Five-Minute Coach offers a simple, step by step guide to how to coach quickly and effortlessly and get better results at work.
Designed for leaders, managers and supervisors, in any setting, this approach to coaching has been developed by the authors and used in organizations across the board large and small, private and public, with adults and teens, and across a variety of voluntary and community groups. Professional coaches have also adopted this system in their work. The book leads the reader through a simple process which changes thinking about how to work with others. Leaders no longer need to have all the answers. They benefit from true delegation. They uncover the talent and resources of others. They free up time for themselves-time to think strategically and to be more proactive, creative and innovative.
3. Transformational Executive Coaching, by Ted M. Middelberg, 2012
- In Transformational Executive Coaching, Dr. Ted Middelberg outlines an approach to coaching leaders at the executive level. His system is built on a structured and goal-focused process that gives coaches the ability to effect and sustain the change that leaders want from a coaching engagement. Based on building relationships and using high-quality colleague feedback, the transformational method is tailored to coaches who work at the executive level, or aspire to work at the executive level.
4. 50 Top Tools for Coaching: A Complete Toolkit for Developing and Empowering People, by Gillian Jones and Ro Gorell, 2012
- The coaching market is still growing, and as it matures clients are becoming demanding buyers of coaching services. As the need for coaching to demonstrate credibility and competence is increasing, this book sets out to help professional coaches achieve more with their clients. The new edition provides an updated broad range of techniques that can be easily applied to many situations along with new tools. The book covers: Setting goals and measuring progress, understanding and resolving problems and conflict, increasing confidence and enhancing performance, interacting and working more effectively with others, using different styles etc.
5. The Heart of Coaching: Using Transformational Coaching to Create a High-Performance Coaching Culture, by Thomas G. Crane, 2012
- More and more leaders and their organizations are becoming convinced in the business case for creating a “coaching culture”. This 4th edition book provides the tools for leaders and teams to develop a common language and shared protocol and a learning and development orientation towards people. These critical dynamics support the entire culture becoming a “feedback-rich, high-performance” organization. The premise of “The Heart of Coaching” is “As coaching becomes a predominant cultural practice…it will create a performance-focused, feedback-rich organization capable of creating and sustaining a competitive advantage.”
6. Guerrilla Marketing for Coaches: Six Steps to Building Your Million-Dollar Coaching Practice, by Jay Conrad Levinson and Andrew Neitlich, 2012
- The coaching profession has experienced phenomenal growth over the past decade, and has become an accepted way for people and organizations to improve performance. In response to this demand, professionals from around the world are getting into coaching. Unfortunately, despite the growth of the coaching field, many coaches struggle to attract clients and charge what they are worth. “Guerrilla Marketing for Coaches” provides a practical, step-by-step guide for coaches who want to fill their practice with desirable clients, and build a firm that generates wealth.
7. The Mentor’s Guide: Facilitating Effective Learning Relationships, by Lois J. Zachary, 2011
- The Mentor’s Guide explores the critical process of mentoring and presents practical tools for facilitating the experience from beginning to end. The book offers guidelines for engaging in must- mentoring conversations, including how to better appreciate generational differences. The book is also well-grounded in knowledge of how adults learn and addresses how topics such as emotional intelligence, transformational learning, and self-directed learning play out in a mentoring relationship.
8. Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership, by Peter Hawkins 2011
- Organizations are most effective when the teams accountable for the organization’s success are performing to the best of their abilities. Leadership Team Coaching is aimed at managers whose role it is to encourage and develop a team. Author Peter Hawkins provides the practical tools and techniques to facilitate effective team performance. He also includes guidance on all the key areas of team coaching, including coaching the board and supervising team coaching and how a team as a whole can engage effectively with key stake holders.
9. Becoming an Exceptional Executive Coach: Use Your Knowledge, Experience, and Intuition to Help Leaders Excel, by Michael H. Frisch, Robert J. Lee, Karen L. Metzger, Judy Rosemarin and Jeremy Robinson, 2011
- Exceptional coaches draw on their professional experience, knowledge of organizationally relevant topics, strong helping skills, coaching-specific competencies, and most important, their ability to use their own intuition in the service of the client. This book aims to bring all of these elements together to guide readers in developing their own personal model of coaching. Beginning with a self-assessment, readers are invited to examine the core content areas crucial in any coach’s work, from engagement and goal setting to needs assessment, data gathering, feedback, and development planning – and then learn how to combine that knowledge with the unique perspective they bring to the table as individuals in order to achieve maximum coaching effectiveness.
10. Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives, by Karen and Henry Kimsey, Phillip Sandahl and Laura Whitworth, 2011
- When Co-Active Coaching was first released in 1998, this book (which has now been published in more than ten languages) was used as key resource in dozens of corporate, professional development and university-based coaching programs as well as by thousands of individuals looking to elevate their communication, relationship and coaching skills. This fully revised third edition of Co-Active Coaching has been updated to reflect the expanded vision of the newly updated Co-Active Model and coaching course curriculum at The Coaches Training Institute, the training organization founded and run by the authors for 20 years.
11. Practicing Positive Psychology Coaching: Assessment, Activities and Strategies for Success, by Robert Biswas-Diener, 2010
- This book includes: Findings from new research on goal commitment strategies, motivation, growth-mindset theory, and goal revision, A decision tree for working specifically with Snyder’s Hope Theory in the coaching context, An easy-to-use assessment of “positive diagnosis,” which measures client strengths, values, future orientation and satisfaction, Measures of self-esteem, optimism, happiness, personal strengths, motivation, and creativity, and Guidance for leading clients through organizational and common life transitions including layoffs, leadership changes, middle age, retirement and other major life changes.
12. Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World’s Greatest Coaches, by Marshall Goldsmith and Laurence S. Lyons, 2010
- When it was published in 2000, Coaching for Leadership became an instant classic in the field of executive coaching. This second edition updates and expands on the original book and brings together the best executive coaches who offer a basic understanding of how coaching works, why it works, and how leaders can make the best use of the coaching process. This thoroughly revised edition reflects recent changes in coaching practices, includes well-researched best practices, and provides additional guidance and tools from the greatest leadership coaches from around the world. Each chapter in this book offers principles of practice, and highlights critical learning points.
13. Coaching for Performance: GROWing Human Potential and Purpose – The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership, 4th Edition,by Sir John Whitmore, 2009
- In this 4th Edition of a book that has sold over 500,000 copies, John Whitmore suggests that good coaching is a skill that requires a depth of understanding and plenty of practice if it is to deliver its potential. This book explains the principles of coaching and illustrates them with examples of high performance from business and sport. It continues to follow the GROW sequence (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) and clarifies the process and practice of coaching by describing what coaching really is, what it can be used for, when and how much it can be used, and who can use it well.
14. The Extraordinary Coach: How the Best Leaders Help Others Grow,by John Zenger and Kathleen Stinnett, 2009
- A boss manages and a leader coaches. We need to do both. But most people in supervisory, manager, or executive roles over-boss and under-lead. The results are lower performance, weaker people, disengaged frontline staff, and stressed out managers. Developing people is at the heart of strong leadership and this book is essentially a guide to developing this critical skill set. In this book, the authors consequently offer a complete system for the practice of coaching. Whether you are coaching subordinates or clients, this book offers a comprehensive look at the value of coaching inside the organization, complete with a process, tools, and supports for getting started.
15. The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application, by Bruce Peltier, 2009
- With the first edition of this text, Peltier drew on his extensive experience in both the clinical and business worlds to create a comprehensive resource that brought psychological and coaching concepts together. In this updated edition, topics reflect the latest developments in the field of executive coaching. Peltier describes several important psychological theories and how to effectively translate them into coaching strategies; business lessons in leadership, marketing, and the corporate viewpoint; the challenges women face as managers and executives and effective coaching methods for working with them.
16. The Tao of Coaching: Boost Your Effectiveness at Work by Inspiring and Developing Those Around You, by Max Landsberg, 2009
- A bestselling business title on how to unlock the potential of people by applying the techniques of coaching. Coaching is the key to realizing the potential of your employees, your organization and yourself. The good news is that becoming a great coach requires nurturing just a few simple skills and habits. This edition of the book has been fully revised, and takes readers through the stages needed to implement coaching to maximum effect. Easy to read and apply, the book provides the techniques and tools of coaching that are vital for anyone who wants to develop a team of people who will perform effectively and who will relish working with you.
17. Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills, by Tony Stoltzfus, 2008
- The single most important skill in coaching is asking powerful questions. In this book, practitioner Tony Stoltzfus joins with 12 other professional coaches to present dozens of question asking tools, models and exercises, then illustrates these coaching strategies with over 1,000 examples of penetrating questions. The book covers the gamut from basic techniques like basic open-ended questions and options or actions to advanced concepts such as challenging questions and reframing techniques.
18. A Manager’s Guide to Coaching: Simple and Effective Ways to Get the Best From Your Employees, by Brian Emerson and Anne Loehr, 2008
- To stay on top, companies need to do more than just tread water—they need to grow. And that means that their employees need to develop and improve their skills at the same pace. Brian Emerson and Ann Loehr have spent years showing some of the country’s top companies how to develop their most promising employees. Now in this book they guide managers through every step of the coaching process, from problem solving to developing accountability. Readers will discover: the top 10 tips every manager should know before he/she starts to coach. These include: • how to handle difficult conversations, conflicting priorities, and problem team members • how to hold follow-up meetings after goals and priorities have been set • sample questions they can adapt to various situations • examples of common problems and how they can use coaching to address them.
19. Masterful Coaching, by Robert Hargrove, 2008
- When the first edition of Masterful Coaching was published, it quickly became the standard resource for anyone who was a coach, considering becoming a coach, or curious about being an extraordinary coach. In this completely revised third edition of the book, author Robert Hargrove presents his a range of insights into the journey to of becoming a masterful coach along with many guiding ideas, tools, and methods drawn from his extensive experience.
20. The Business Coaching Toolkit: Top 10 Strategies for Solving the Toughest Dilemmas Facing Organizations, by Stephen G. Fairley and William Zipp 2007
- Increasingly, organizations are tapping into the benefits of bringing in an executive coach to help their businesses and employees achieve higher levels of success, build team proficiency, or improve employee performance. This book aims to equips coaches with ten coaching techniques, providing step-by-step guidance on how and when to utilize each tool to maximize change and produce measurable results. Extensively used and perfected in a wide variety of settings, the featured tools are drawn both from the authors’ own experiences as well as those of other accomplished business coaches and consultants.
As we said at the outset, this Top 20 list is a subjective one. However, it does offer considerable diversity of reading material (from the theory of coaching to highly practical strategies and tactics for coaches to apply in their work) and therefore offers great insight into the critical subject of Coaching and Mentoring theory and practice.
And if you only had the budget to buy just three of this list, which ones would emerge as the most useful? As we said at the outset this is a highly subjective decision but my three would be “Challenging Coaching”, “50 Top Tools for Coaching”, and finally “Coaching for Leadership: The Practice of Leadership Coaching from the World’s Greatest Coaches”.