Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others [NOOK Book]


Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others is an insightful, thought-provoking guide that dissects the art and science of coaching.

Beginning with theories, concepts and models, the book moves on to consider rigorous methods of practice and self-observation in a relationship of mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression. It will probe you to rethink how you relate to your ...
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Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others

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Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others is an insightful, thought-provoking guide that dissects the art and science of coaching.

Beginning with theories, concepts and models, the book moves on to consider rigorous methods of practice and self-observation in a relationship of mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression. It will probe you to rethink how you relate to your clients and your staff, how you produce long-term excellent performance in yourself and how you can become more effective in helping others to achieve their goals

This third edition includes a new chapter on communication and a new central case study that runs throughout the book to illustrate the impact of the themes and concepts discussed in the book.

Coaching, 3rd edition is a rich learning resource guide for new and experienced coaches who want to challenge their methods of partnering with clients. It is also an inspiring guide for training managers and leaders, human resource development managers and general managers who want to develop their teams.

Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others proposes rigorous methods of practice and self-observation in a relationship of mutual trust, respect and freedom of expression. It will probe you to rethink and possibly undo how you relate to your clients, your partner, your staff, your friends, and how you produce long-term excellent performance in yourself.
This 2nd edition includes new chapters on working with the body and what to do when we find ourselves stuck in our coaching efforts. These chapters, have been included to expand the coaches repertory and readiness to step into wider areas of engagement with clients. As with the previous edition these chapters have annotated bibliographies at their conclusion that will assist the reader in continuing their study. The appendix also has expanded list of self-observation exercises and practices as well as additional material that can be used in assessment.
This book will act as a learning guide for new coaches and master coaches who want to challenge their methods of partnering with clients. It is also applicable to managers intending to include coaching in their developmental roles with team members.
The author has led workshops in coaching, communication, leadership, and project management for more than 12,000 people. These have included participants from many Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, FMC, Chrysler, Ernst & Young, Cargill, Levi Strauss and Coopers & Lybrand.New edition of a classic in the field of coaching-- 1st edition sold over 27,000 copies Presents the fundamentals of coaching and offers practical ways to implement coaching programs in any organization Revised and updated including new material on latestapproaches, the effect of technology and other developments in the fiel

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780080964294
  • Publisher: Taylor & Francis
  • Publication date: 3/1/2010
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Edition number: 3
  • Sales rank: 885,861
  • File size: 2 MB

Meet the Author

James Flaherty, founder of New Ventures West and co-founder of Integral Leadership, designs coaching courses and leads classes throughout North America, South Africa and Europe. He has coached top executives at many Fortune 500 companies and is a highly sought after speaker at meetings and conferences. Over the past two decades, James has led coaching and leadership courses involving thousands of people. His innovative approach to coaching, known as Integral Coaching, integrates recent discoveries in linguistics, developmental psychology, twentieth-century philosophy and biology into a widely-acclaimed, practical method of self-improvement and personnel development.

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Read an Excerpt

Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others

By James Flaherty


Copyright © 2010 James Flaherty
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-08-096429-4

Chapter One

The Foundation for Coaching

Here are the basics, the building blocks for everything that follows-the fundamentals of coaching. They're presented simply, directly, and concisely with few examples or elaborations. The presentation gives you maximum room for your own thinking and creativity. This book doesn't tell you what to do. Instead, it gives you distinctions, ideas, models, and principles from which you can design your own actions. Some readers will be annoyed by this, others will feel informed and liberated. In either case, regardless of initial response, the question remains-what will leave you, the reader, with the greatest chance to be an excellent coach who can self-correct and self-generate your own innovations? The following is my response to that question.

"Our chief want in life is someone who will make us do what we can."



Maybe as you select a book about coaching you already have in mind the situation in which you want to use coaching. Perhaps you're a manager in some kind of organization who is trying to improve the performance of someone who works for you, or maybe you are someone attempting to mentor a young promising person. Alternatively, you might be a team leader on a software development task force attempting to build the proficiency of your team. You could also be a parent who wants to provide the best possible upbringing for your child. The possible scenarios could go on and on, and it's the purpose of this book to give you an introduction to coaching in a way that allows you to apply it to the wide range of situations we find ourselves in these days.

The common thread running through these circumstances is the intention of the coach to leave the person being coached, whom we'll call the client, more competent in an activity that is of mutual interest to coach and client. Since many of the people reading this book are probably interested in how coaching applies to business, here are some reasons why coaching is important in the world of commerce today:

1. The need for innovation is endless. Businesses must keep reinventing not only their products and ways of delighting their customers, but also the way they organize themselves; communicate so as to coordinate activities; and stay current with changes in technology, demographics, politics, government regulations, and so on.

2. Because of relentless downsizing and reengineering efforts, the traditional relationship between organization and employee has been changed in a way that is probably irreparable. Consequently, even outstanding performers do not anticipate staying with one organization for their entire career and are always working with the knowledge, at least in the background, that their current position is temporary. Organizations have to find a way to retain such people as long as possible by providing both attractive compensation and a chance to continuously learn.

3. Organizations by necessity are having to work in multicultural environments. This happens when organizations recruit or market in other nations as well as within the United States, as our demographics evolve from the historic Eurocentrality.

It is one of the central tenets of this book that command-and-control organizations cannot bring about the conditions and competencies necessary to successfully meet the challenges holistically. For the most part, organizations know this and have attempted to reorganize themselves using the principles of total quality management and reengineering. The usual problem with these interventions is that they are implemented by and end up reinforcing the command-and-control structure. Here's my objection to that: command-and-control organizations are based on the premise that a power and knowledge hierarchy is the most effective way of structuring an organization. People at the top make the decisions and people further down implement those decisions, changing them as little as possible. The process is slow, expensive, and has as its core belief that people cannot be trusted and must be closely monitored. As long as those beliefs are in place any organization will have tremendous difficulty flourishing in today's world. Of course, what I'm saying here is not a new statement. What I'm offering in this book is an alternative to working in a command-and-control environment by beginning with new premises. It's been my experience that organizations must be dedicated to allowing people to be both effective and fulfilled. Organizations are the ongoing creations of the people who work in them. Treating organizations as if they were huge machines, as is done with command and control, badly misunderstands the nature of the phenomenon. To sum up and simplify what I'm saying, coaching is a way of working with people that leaves them more competent and more fulfilled so that they are more able to contribute to their organizations and find meaning in what they are doing. I hope that reading this book will convince you that this is possible and that you will experiment with the ideas presented here. That is the only way you can find out for yourself that what I'm saying here is worthwhile.


Perhaps one of the most powerful ways of understanding coaching is from the end. If we know what we are intending to accomplish, we can correct ourselves as we go along and be able to evaluate our success at the end. These products are meant to distinguish what we mean about coaching from other interpretations. We present coaching as more than being an accountability partner that supports someone in reaching her goals or as a disciplinarian who changes someone's unwanted actions. Instead we claim that coaching occurs in a bigger frame that sometimes includes these two modalities but goes well beyond that.

The Products of Coaching

Long-Term Excellent Performance

This means that the client meets the high objective standards of the discipline in which coaching is occurring. Standards are objective when they can be observed by any competent person. For example, hitting a home run in baseball is an objective standard, as is a checkmate in chess; however, we must know something about each game to be able to observe these outcomes as favorable.


Well-coached clients can observe when they are performing well and when they are not and will make any necessary adjustments independently of the coach. By keeping this criterion in mind, coaches can avoid the big temptation of becoming indispensable and, instead, work to build the competence of their client.


We can always improve, and well-coached people know this and will continually find ways on their own to do so. They'll practice more, or they'll watch others perform, or they'll learn an activity that will strengthen them in a new way that improves their competence (see Figure 1.1).

Let me give you an example that will illustrate what I'm saying and will perhaps make these ideas more clear. I coached a man named Bob at a major oil company in California. Bob was referred to me by my friend Nancy, who worked as an internal human resources consultant. He was a competent and well-regarded accountant who traveled to various sites worldwide and audited drilling operations. But Bob had greater ambitions. He felt as if he were trapped by his own success, that management would never let him move on because he was doing such good work. At least that is what he told me.

As I got to know Bob better I saw that he was missing a whole set of competencies to move ahead in a large organization with powerful political forces at play. Bob's initial assumption was that by doing good work he would get noticed and promoted. When this didn't happen he blamed management for their shortsightedness and selfishness. This explanation left Bob powerless; there was nothing he could do to change the thinking of his managers.

Of course, this is where a coach comes in. A coach is someone who builds a respectful relationship with a client and then researches the situations the client finds himself in, with particular emphasis on the client's interpretation of the events. When I did that, I saw that Bob would be captured in the vicious circle of his thinking until he saw the situation in a new way, developed new competencies, and created a new identity for himself in the organization.

I'll continue to tell you the story of Bob as the book continues, but for now I want to talk about the products of coaching in terms of this scenario. For Bob to be a long-term excellent performer, he had to be known as someone who could deal effectively with the bigger issues facing executives in the company and not merely skillful dealing with problems at his level. He had to know how decisions were made and power was brokered. He needed to learn to build alliances, share concerns, and present himself as executive material.

To be self-correcting, Bob had to be able to alter in midconversation or midmeeting what he was doing to bring about the outcomes he intended. He had to learn about his own habits and how they might get him in trouble, about the subtle communications clues he had been oblivious to in his environment, and he had to be able to keep learning without either being too harsh on himself or too lax.

To be self-generating, Bob had to have more than a list of tasks he was going to accomplish during his coaching program. He had to locate the resources in himself, in his relationships at work, and in the wider community that would allow him to continuously improve. He had to develop the capacity to renew himself, question his premises, let go of assumptions when they no longer were helpful, and do all this while maintaining his well-being, family life, and closely held personal values.

Perhaps from this example you can see that coaches have to address both a short- and a long-term view. Short-term in the sense that they must support their clients in reaching their goals, but long-term in the sense that the client will always have more challenges later and must be left competent to deal with these situations as they arise, while simultaneously conducting a fulfilling life.

An Alternative Model of Coaching

The hundreds of times I've described the products of coaching in classes or with individual clients I've always had people agree that they were terrific, worthwhile, and desirable. After all, who wouldn't want to leave people as long-term excellent performers who were self-correcting and self-generating? I found that nearly everyone agrees with the products. Problems arise though, when people attempting to coach work to bring them about.

The heart of these problems is the assumptions coaches make about people. When attempting to bring about changes in others, many of us employ what I call the amoeba theory (see Figure 1.2).

You may recall that amoeba are single-cell protozoa. Perhaps you studied them in high school biology. It's easy to change the behavior of an amoeba. We can either poke it to get it to move away or entice it to move in the desired direction by giving it sugar. Poking and sugar work very well for amoebas, who never wake up and say, "Today I will ignore the sugar." Day after day they predictably respond to the stimuli presented. All of this was useful and powerful learning that was brought to the world through Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner. The only problem, as far as we're concerned in this book, is that the amoeba theory becomes management theory. For the most part, managers and coaches attempt to bring about changes in others by figuring out how to poke them or give them sugar.

The vast majority of psychologists have abandoned the amoeba theory, which is more properly called behaviorism, because they made an amazing discovery: human beings are more complicated than amoebas. It's unfortunate that many managers and many coaches act as if they haven't made a similar discovery. In fact, one of the most well-known coaching books by Fournies proposes that the only way to coach is to use behaviorism in its most blunt and stark form.

I can assure you that using the amoeba theory will never bring about the products of coaching. Here's why:

1. Nothing long term can come from the amoeba theory; as soon as the stimulus ends, the behavior ends.

2. People are more clever than amoebas and we learn to get the reward without doing the action. Many of us have learned, for example, how to get top grades in college without really learning much, and organizations are full of people who have mastered looking good, while not accomplishing anything of use.

3. The amoeba theory eliminates the possibility of people being self-correcting because they are merely responding to stimuli and not correcting according to principles, desired outcomes, or values.

4. The amoeba theory weakens people every time it's applied because it habituates people to taking actions only when someone else provides the stimulus. This is terrific when we want passive, nonthinking drones, but deadly when we expect initiative, innovation, risk-taking, and creativity.

5. The amoeba theory eliminates the chance for people to be self-generating because their ambition and curiosity are crushed, since any unauthorized initiatives or unsanctioned relationships are thwarted. All attention must be on only those actions that lead to the immediate cessation of the pain or the immediate acquisition of the reward. The immediate is worshipped. The building of long-term competence is thwarted.

These reasons could go on and on, and probably you can come up with plenty of them yourself. Everyone I know resents being manipulated either overtly or covertly and that is what the amoeba theory is—manipulation. The amoeba theory is also a theory underlying command-and-control practices in organizations. Since this theory won't bring about the products of coaching, and we realize that these products are highly desirable and probably necessary, it is important to abandon this theory and embrace something else.

Many people, when confronted with the amoeba theory, can readily see its limitations and pernicious aspects. Nonetheless, under pressure that's what many of us employ. Coaches need a lot of discipline and practice over an extended amount of time to stay out of the amoeba theory and to employ instead an alternate theory that makes it more likely that the products of coaching will occur (see Figure 1.3).

This alternate theory must be respectful of people, flexible enough to include the vast differences among people, allow the coach to understand the client and design and conduct coaching programs that result in a client who is a long-term excellent performer who is self-correcting and self-generating. Simultaneously, the theory must also be a blending of academic rigor and everyday, commonsense experience. Absent this blending, any coaching theory will lack the robustness necessary to actively engage both coach and client.

The theory I'm proposing is drawn from phenomenology, a school of modern philosophy centered on the way phenomena actually show up in people's lives, as distinct from metaphysical schools of philosophy in which events and experiences are categorized by pre-existing distinctions. By explaining the theory with some examples I hope to make clear exactly what I'm saying.

The coach must account for behavior because behavior leads to outcomes. A coach whose work does not affect outcomes will soon find himself unemployed. The question then becomes how to account for behavior. I recommend that we account for behavior by understanding it as what follows from the way the world is showing up for someone. In other words, it's not events, communication, or stimuli that lead to behavior, it is the interpretation an individual gives to the phenomenon that leads to the actions taken.


Excerpted from Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others by James Flaherty Copyright © 2010 by James Flaherty. Excerpted by permission of Butterworth-Heinemann. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Introduction; The Foundation for Coaching; Basic Principles; The Flow of Coaching; The Coaching Relationship; Openings; Assessment Model, Enrollment; Coaching Conversations; Stuck; Track Two: Working with Ourselves; Conclusion; Appendices.
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