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64 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on June 25, 2001
It seems quite awhile since I have found a book in my own field that I can completely recommend to almost anyone. This is a terrific book for coaches, consultants and leaders at all levels. Finally here is a book that explains the role of coaching as an Organization Development intervention. As well it clearly alginates the differences between calling yourself an executive coach and the competencies required to actually be one. In fact I would have to say that this is a must read for any executive or corporate coach.
One reviewer said this book was easy to read. While it is well written and gives the illusion of simplicity, the concepts and specifics inside are subtler than that. I am a quick reader and it took me some time to properly digest what O'Neill was really saying. And this is not a big book. When I first picked it up, I remember thinking: "Oh brother another expensive book without much meat." I was completely wrong. There doesn't appear to be a lot of theory, but it is clear that theory is the underpinning of the author's work and it is there front and centre. However, you do not notice it because of how it is presented.  
This one of the few books that I have read where the short case studies really added value to the book. In the cases typical situations and examples of how she expertly handled them were reviewed, as well as some warnings about how the coach can also get triggered by what is happening. Another great part is that this book as a "go back to" reference. The three Appendix contain a personal assessment, questions to ask clients and issues on how to combine consulting with coaching or vice versa.
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26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
on March 27, 2000
Mary Beth O'niell writes with great clarity and her book is very engaging--almost like watching her in action. O'Neill's four-phased, systems-based methology provides a structure for coaching that encourages individuality. In fact, O'Neill stresses the importance of a coach's self-awareness and developemnt of ones signature presence. She uses many relevant examples to illustrate her approach. I especially value suggestions made throughout the book for how to effectively engage clients. O'Neill has the ability to explain complex sustems theory and interpersonal dynamics in a way that aides understanding. In a recent conversation with a potential coaching client I found myself using, in the moment, the useful information O'Neill offers. If you coach executives, or leaders at any level in organizations, this is a must resource.
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23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on June 23, 2000
In a field crowded with many new titles this book is unique and very empowering. While most coaching books focus on "technique," Mary Beth O'Neill shines the light on how we use OURSELVES to catalyze change. The author helped me better understand emotional systems thinking and how I can use these principles in my coaching practice. Another unusual perspective I found in this book is the author's focus on coaching in the context of bottom line results. Highly recommended!
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26 of 27 people found the following review helpful
Mary Beth O'Neill describes how executive coaches need to work with executives as partners to help them become better leaders. Coaches need the strength to share the truth with clients in times of crisis, she explains. She discusses the core principles that underlie coaching and the four essential phases of the coaching process: contracting, planning, live-action intervening and debriefing. The book is primarily directed to coaches, including consultants and internal or external trainers, who facilitate processes and projects in organizations. While it has its share of fuzzy and jargon-laden patches, the book is generally clear and to the point. It includes a mix of examples, charts, and step-by-step techniques, plus useful chapter highlights. We [...] recommend this book to coaches, to executives who are coaching employees and to executives who are being coached.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
I predict that "Executive Coaching With Backbone and Heart" will become a classic textbook within the field of organizational development! As a new coach, I found Mary Beth O'Neill's writing to be clear, informative, honest and thought provoking. She balances theory with practical examples to illustrate her points and provides highlights at the end of each chapter for easy reference and review. Her willingness to share her mistakes and how she's learned from them added to her credibility and models her own integration of backbone with heart.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
I predict that "Executive Coaching With Backbone and Heart" will become a classic text book within the field of organizational development. As a new coach, I found Mary Beth O'Neill's writing to be clear, informative, honest and thought provoking. She balances theory with practical examples to illustrate her points with a summary of the highlights at the end of each chapter for easy review and reference. I also appreciated her willingness to share her own mistakes and how she's learned from them. I found her honesty refreshing and it added to the credibility of her book. Her writing models her own integration of backbone with heart.
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26 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on March 18, 2004
Mary Beth O'Neill is an experienced executive coach who provides a useful perspective and helpful guidelines and examples of what coaches can do to help executives. Her systems perspective and four-step approach is helpful with case examples and additional insights into how leaders can be coached to coach and how coaching can be combined with consulting to have a greater impact on the organization. There are several key elements of professional coaching that are missing in the book: First- The four-step approach does not include a thorough assessment of the executive and his/her organization using reliable historical, normative, and 360-degree data. Instead, the major focus is on asking the executive what they think they need or want to work on. Second- There is a lack of focus on involving and partnering with the executive's boss, board, key constituents, HR professionals and others to truly understand the executive and the organization from multiple perspectives and to have the potential impact on the whole system. And third- there could be greater emphasis on what happens after the coaching is completed; how to transition for continued learning, application, and improvement.
For more information about the principles and practice of executive coaching that incorporates Ms. O'Neill's useful approaches along with the additional components described above, you may want to go to the following website for the free Handbook of Executive Coaching along with other free information and tools for executives, coaches, and HR professionals: [...]
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
Excellent resource for experienced coaches looking for insight to take their practice to a higher level. This book is also useful for those considering coaching or consulting as a permanent profession. O'Neill provides many honest examples of the inner thoughts of coaches during sessions and tools to help maintain effectiveness and composure with tough clients.
Her humble writing style fosters the belief that "I could do this!" even though the concepts are highly advanced. I found myself going back over pages and concepts as I realized I had been in similar situations before. The case studies are exciting and easy to absorb but read this book slowly to embrace the richer complexities.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
This is a well written and thorough resource which aptly combines theory with practical application of the systems theory to executive coaching as well as advice and tools to use. The book is very useful in translating the systems theory to readable and useful frameworks, pragmatic tips and case studies.

The author methodically explains the four phases of coaching process namely contracting, planning, implementation and debriefing. She explains that coaching is a complex process which involves the application of the principles and methods of psychology, leadership principles, business management and organisation development, among others, to assist the executive and the aspiring executive improve their effectiveness.

The book will assist the executive coaching practitioners, business executives and managers who need them and offers a practical guide to developing the effective communications and relationship expertise needed by business managers to run effectively their organisations in the highly competitive operating environment.

Read this book and you will have a comprehensive understanding of this emerging new field.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on May 18, 2001
The author has written a valuable book that promises to help us be effective in coaching executive clients.
Her emphasis on having coaches be aware of their own "stuff" is very helpful. I also liked her attention to the fact that our clients are a part of larger systems at work.
However, although this wasn't her emphasis in writing the book, it would have been helpful for her to acknowledge that executives are also a part of other systems outside of work that may have a major influence on their success at work. Our not checking in with our clients about major influences that are external to their work can leave us with valuable missing information.
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