Business Coaching & Mentoring for Dummies, 2nd edition, Marie Taylor and Steve Crabb. Hoboken, NJ: John Wiley & Sons, 2017.
Summary: A detailed overview of the nature of business coaching and mentoring offering resources for assessing potential client opportunities, working with mind-sets, vision and planning processes, and marketing oneself as a coach.
For those who follow this blog, you may have noted I’ve been reviewing books on coaching periodically, an area I am reading up on. As part of the “Dummies” series, you might think this would be the first I would read, and that it would be fairly elementary. Rather, I found it a fairly comprehensive resource on business coaching. I highlight “business” here because there are different kinds of coaching–life coaching, performance coaching, etc. and this book focuses with working with those in executive positions in the business world, in start-ups, small companies, and larger corporations.
The book is divided into five parts, each consisting of several chapters:
- Part 1: Getting Started with Business Coaching and Mentoring
- Part 2: Developing the Business Leader’s Mind-Set
- Part 3: Coaching and Mentoring to Get a Business on the Right Track
- Part 4: Creating a Successful Business Identity with the Support of a Coach
- Part 5: The Part of Tens
I found the material in Part One the most helpful. Particularly key is the distinction drawn between coaching (“the art of co-creation”) and mentoring (“the art of imparting wise counsel”). Both can be valuable but need to be distinguished and often may be confused in the mind of a client. Throughout the book, the authors make a point to maintain the distinction while offering material for both situations. This part also dealt with professional training of coaches, making the case for coaching, assessing the potential needs of clients and contracting (including what goes into a contract). One of the most valuable pieces of advice is to know your limitations and don’t be desperate. Several models of coaching are also introduced including the CLEAR model (Contracting-Listening-Exploring-Action-Review).
Part Two focuses on the business leader’s mind-set. We are introduced here to Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP), a coaching approach one of the authors is trained in. Various exercises are introduced in this and the next two parts that seem to be versions of mindfulness training. One of my friends who has worked in business mentioned the relevance of the Enneagram, a tool used extensively in spiritual formation circles, to the business coaching world. Low and behold, a whole section of one chapter in this part was devoted to the Enneagram, particularly in dealing with the “I did it my way” leader.
Part Three focuses extensively on the vision, mission, values, and planning of a business, beginning with the stories businesses tell of themselves. There are extensive grids, sets of questions and guides for a variety of different clients one works with here.
Part Four was all about branding, both for the client and for the coach. For businesses, the grid offered on managing stakeholder relationships was helpful. For coaches, much of the advice might be summed up in the six-step model they offered:
- Identify the desperate needs of your potential clients.
- Identify your needs.
- Create a coaching solution to the desperate needs of your clients that satisfies both your needs and theirs.
- Position yourself as a niche specialist in providing the solution.
- Market and sell your services.
- Charge appropriately for your services.
Part Five consisted of several chapters of “tens”–online resources, tips for leaders who coach or mentor, tips for hiring a business coach, and ten questions for keeping a business on track.
Like any “Dummies” book, there are icons throughout highlighting particular types of information: Business owners, tip, remember, example, warning (very useful!), and technical stuff. Here’s one good warning:
“Coaches who are new to the profession often go looking for problems to fix. Don’t go looking for what’s not there — that’s making coaching about your own personal needs and not the needs of the client.” (p. 94).
I’ve highlighted some of the resources in each section I found helpful. I found the book chock-full of tools and resources and insights that probably make this a good basic reference for those engaged in business coaching or mentoring. You won’t be able to keep it all in your head. The writers emphasize how good coaches keep growing themselves, keep developing new skills, and access new tools. This book is a good place to start and worth having on the shelf.