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VINE VOICEon June 2, 2009
This book, now in its FOURTH edition, is the grandfather of coaching books and approaches. Much of what has come to be known as professional business coaching came from Timothy Gallway and Whitmore's sports training techniques. As such, the book provides a simple foundation for coaching based on the context of awareness and responsibility through asking questions and listening. He presents the G R O W model of coaching - Goal, Reality, Option, Will - as a format for coaching sessions.

The book begins with a few foundational beliefs of coaches. Unlike old models of management that work from the "carrot and stick" approach, a coach believes in the potential of the client. Whitmore believes that people are only able to change only that which they are aware. Responsibility must stay with the client if they are to perform. Questions raise awareness and yet maintain the client's responsibility. If the coach tells the coachee something, awareness may increase slightly, but responsibility in now in the hands of the coach, the source of the information. Questions cause the client to pay attention to their actions, think at higher levels, and provide feedback for the coach to work from.

The G R O W model provides a sequence of questioning and for the coaching session. A coach starts with the client's goal. Either an end goal, like "retire at age 45," or a performance goal, such as "write a new training manual by December." After further clarifying the goal the coach can move on to the current reality of the situation. Asking such questions as: What have you done on the manual up to now? What are the needs that you think a manual might help? What has kept you from finishing the manual these past two years? Options are then generated from the client as to how they can achieve their goal. Finally, What will you do? Whitmore builds several checks and balances into this last step to ensure performance.

The final sections of the book are new territory in this 4th edition. Coaching used to be about performance - doing, achievement. In the past few years coaching has moved to underlying motivations of personal fulfillment: the "why" underneath the desire to achieve performance goals. Whitmore includes new chapters on coaching for purpose, getting to life's meaning.

Of the dozen books on coaching that I own, this one has consistently been the book I refer back to as I try to explain to someone what is coaching: Believe in the potential of people; raise awareness and maintain responsibility through questions and listening; and follow the GROW model. All are the essence of good coaching.
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on July 20, 2012
I bought the third edition (which concentrated entirely on coaching) about eight years ago and thought it was excellent.

However, for me, this new fourth edition, which is subtitled "The principles and practice of coaching and leadership", over-promises and fails to deliver on the "leadership" bit. In my view, there are much better books on the principles and practice of leadership.

John Whitmore has added three new chapters on the subject of leadership. The first is largely a re-presentation of an old chapter ("Coaching the Corporation") under a new chapter heading ("The Challenge to Leaders") so it is essentially old wine in a new bottle. The second stresses the need for leaders to get beyond their old conditioning and free themselves from fear (which I am all for) but it does not say much about its practice other than, "It can be achieved by coaching." The third lists the author's views on the ideal leader's qualities: (1) values-driven (2) vision (3) authenticity (4) agility - that is, flexibility, ability to get beyond old conditioning, and creativity (5) inner psychological alignment (6) selfless purpose. And that's largely it.

Admittedly, he does suggest that the way for leaders to develop these qualities is through transpersonal coaching and he offers a new "Tools of Transpersonal Coaching" chapter. However, some of its content is a re-presentation of what was in the old "Coaching for Meaning" chapter. The rest is interesting in that it introduces (with little detail) the idea of sub-personalities and a transpersonal model of the psyche. However, I just do not think this all adds up to the "principles and practice of leadership". The principles and practice of modern coaching, yes, but not leadership per se.

In summary, if you are looking for a good book on coaching, this is one. But if you are looking for something to guide you in developing others as leaders (or developing yourself as a leader), for me, this isn't it. What would I recommend instead? If you want something that does address the principles and practice of leadership and gets into the leader's underlying psychology in more depth than Whitmore does, try James Scouller's "The Three Levels of Leadership". If you want just the principles and practice of leadership without the psychology, you cannot go far wrong with John Adair's classic, "Effective Leadership" although he puts less emphasis on values, vision, authenticity and servant leadership than Whitmore and Scouller.
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on February 1, 2011
This book was purchased for an online course, I had no idea what to expect for this book. I have enjoyed reading every chapter, the author uses a ton of practical examples and really has extensive knowledge on the subject of coaching. This truly is a book made to help stretch and grow your performance, not just in your career, but in any application. The GROW model is a great tool for life expansion and greater individual success for any experience level, especially suited for those who are new to the concept of coaching.
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on March 8, 2013
The first half of the book does a better job than most of covering basic coaching principles and techniques. However, the second half of the book came across as more of an afterthought aimed at filling space and expressing the author's opinions of business and industry today.
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on December 5, 2013
I've read a couple of other books on Coaching but this one provides a perspective of coaching that is totally new to me and it will help you coach correctly so that those being coached will ultimately be responsible and anxious to be accountable for the results they are really after. Its always fun to learn something so basic yet effective, thanks
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on March 31, 2013
I am a personal coach was looking for a coaching guide that will help me enrich my coaching practice. Although nicely written, this book is too focused on general explanation of coaching terms, the history of coaching, spends quite some time on the good old Maslow, and gives very little real examples and practical knowledge. The focus on coaching in management and leadership was also something I was not interested in, so basically I got real insights only from the chapters on Goal Setting and Coaching for Meaning and Purpose. Too little compared to my expectations.
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on June 5, 2012
Coaching for Performance provides an excellent introduction into the the principles and practices of coaching. In particular, this book provides actionable advice and guidance taking the reader through the process of what, how and why of coaching.
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on January 14, 2013
The author explains his Coaching model with utter clarity and gives out excellent questioning techniques and a very good explanation of the theory behind his model. A must for professional and business coaches.
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on October 29, 2013
I identified a need among my staff for coaching and bought this book to help me get started. Some of it is obvious, of course, but I took some great tips out of it as well. It's quick and easy to read.
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on April 23, 2015
The authenticity of the guidance in John's book keeps the reader's attention focused and yearning to discover the next and the next pearl of wisdom in the Coaching for performance. Thank you John
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