Book Review: The Coaching Habit

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This is a review of The Coaching Habit by Michael Bungay Stanier. If you’re reading this review of a book on coaching for managers, you probably fall into one of two camps. You might be a manager who’s already doing some coaching or you’re a manager who hasn’t made coaching part of your toolkit yet.

If coaching is already part of what you do as a manager

You may already have made coaching part of the way you manage. If that’s true. you can skip over the next section of this review and get right to why this book will be an excellent addition to the other coaching books you own.

If you haven’t made coaching part of your toolkit

The benefits of coaching are pretty straightforward and well documented. A boss who coaches his or her team members effectively will have a more productive team, have higher team morale, and will have a more enjoyable work life. OK, so why aren’t you doing it already? My experience suggests that there are three possible reasons.

You may think that the coaching that managers do and the coaching that sports coaches do is the same. Nope. Sports coaches do a lot of telling and don’t ask many questions. The art of the coaching manager is the art of the question.

Or, you may think that the coaching that managers do and the coaching that professional executive coaches do is the same. Nope. Professional coaches are a godsend for us. But they’re professionals with a bag full of professional tools and expertise. Coaching with them is an event that you put on your calendar. The art of the coaching manager is coaching “in the workflow” several times a day. That’s why it should be a habit.

Or, you may think that the coaching that managers do requires deep knowledge of psychology and coaching theory. Nope. The fact is that all the great supervisors I studied coached routinely without a bit of specialized training. Heck, my mother used to do it with me and my sister.

They all asked something like: “Why do you think that happened?” or “What do you want to do?” and then listened. It was all about conversation and part of the normal flow of life and work.

That’s what this book is about. Ask more. Say less. Simple enough that this preacher’s boy can get it. Here are the details.

What’s in this book?

Coaching is simple. So is this book. Coaching is lean. So is this book.

The first chapter is about why you need the coaching habit. The second chapter is about creating the coaching habit. Yes, habit, something you do reflexively several times every work day. The advice in this chapter is based on real science, not that nonsense about “28 days.”

The next seven chapters are about seven questions you can ask Just seven and that’s enough. There are “Master Classes” that help you ask the questions effectively. There are pointers to videos and podcasts and other helps.

Still not sure? Well, there’s good news. You can download the first three chapters of The Coaching Habit from the official, not-to-be-missed, Box of Crayons page for the book. If you don’t see the download option, scroll down.

Bottom Line

If you’ve already read several books on coaching, this book and the advice on habit building will be a wonderful addition to your library.

If you’re trying to figure out if coaching will help you and how to get started, this is the perfect book to buy, read, and use.

If you would like to find out more about how Michael came to write this book, check out “The Story of The Coaching Habit” on my writing web site.

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