Coaching is achieving prominence in business as a tool to enable leaders meet the challenges they face as well as changing societal expectations. Mirroring her philosophy of promoting ‘mastery of practice’, Sunny Stout-Rostron, who is an internationally respected coach and writer on the topic offers a definitive, comprehensive, practical, and accessible guide for business executives, their professional advisers, emerging leaders, and coaches of any orientation meet the challenges of the twenty-first century. The book traces the development of leadership neatly and then addresses key topics in business coaching such as how to get the best from your coaching and how to have a business coaching conversation. Briefly touching on coaching models, the book concentrates once again on how one should facilitate the coaching conversation, while reminding the reader of the neuroscience to leadership coaching and other topics such as gender diversity, the complexities of organisational contracting, and how to use team learning to enhance workplace performance. The book concludes by examining the fundamentals of safe and ethical practice, the benefits that coach supervision can have, and valuably five areas that Stout-Rostron believes are key to the future of business coaching.
To outline the content of Leadership Coaching for Results in some more detail, the book begins by asking the reader to critically reflect on the many leadership theories that have focused our thinking over the last 70 years. These theories range from the initial focus on core leader attributes to the emerging concepts of authentic and principle-centred leadership arguably driven by the increasing concerns about the ethical conduct of today’s leaders in the wake of corporate scandals and global recession.
This whistle-stop tour of the latest academic thinking is not only valuable in itself but also sets a firm foundation from which to examine how coaching has emerged as a discipline in its own right and positioned itself for individuals to achieve their true potential. Practically outlining the benefits and the coaching process, whether based around structural, learning psychological and existential frameworks, Stout-Rostron challenges the reader to reflect on the skills necessary to have a coaching conversation, and reminds both the coach and coachee of the intricate dynamics that are involved in operating with conscious intent. It is of note that all chapters are supported by academic referencing reminding all readers of the importance of investing in their own continuous professional development as well as being perceptive to safe and ethical practice. Stout-Rostron does not shy away from the hard questions and bravely delves into areas such as diversity awareness and the different demands that can affect the coach and by extension the coaching process and client, namely the need to probe many things about ourselves including how we think of identity and the requirement to re-evaluate one’s limiting worldviews.
Leadership Coaching for Results concludes by questioning the future of business coaching through five headings: professionalism; education and development of coaches; mastery of practice; coaching research; and coaching and society. Reflecting on the UK’s experience, having demonstrated its potential, coaching has become a significant and influential part of many organisations’ budgets; however, like any profession or skill set, it needs to be supported through professionalisation of training and greater research to ensure high standards are maintained. As is suggested, greater collaboration between academics and practitioners as well as national/international organisations is a positive step towards ensuring ‘self-reflective’ practice at both the individual and group levels of analysis.
The broad focus and readability of the book is attractive to both academics and practitioners which inevitably contributes to its appeal. Mindful that the book is meant to be accessible for the lay reader as well as experienced coaches, the book’s generalisability is perhaps at the expense of more expansive academic rigour. This shortcoming, however, is tackled by the recommended reading lists that refer readers to many well-respected texts with few exceptions. The personal case studies contained within Chapter 14 provide a fresh perspective on how coaching can be used for change to mirroring the superb reflective exercises that entice the reader further.
Stout-Rostron has reminded me of the importance of being aware of one’s limiting paradigms and how critically important it is to reflect on how we think about thinking. I wholeheartedly recommend this text for anyone wanting to know more about the powerful role that coaching can have to achieve a new leadership in a new world.
Source: Andrew Fiddy (2015) “Leadership coaching for results” published in Coaching: An International Journal of Theory, Research and Practice, Vol. 8, No. 2, 181-182 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/17521882.2015.1054850
Alternatively, you can contact Sunny Stout-Rostron, DProf, MA directly: