Book Review:

Peninsula Team

February 24 2012

The Tao of Coaching by Max Landsberg

This was one of the earlier books I read and subsequently took some interesting tips from. My initial thoughts were, why would I need to coach individuals and what would be the objective in doing so? I soon discovered that I could use the coaching techniques in every aspect of my life, including the interaction with my own children. There is nothing greater than the personal satisfaction of discovering something for oneself, and the depth of understanding in doing so. In a learning situation, that kind of encouragement means you get a team of people who are focused on results because they want to be.

The first chapter looks at the techniques in becoming an expert coach, the writer states that coaching is a necessary skill because it helps others to develop and grow and at the same time increasing one’s effectiveness as a leader. The goal is to ‘enhance the performance and learning ability of others’, using techniques such as motivation and effective questioning.

‘It is based on helping the coachee to help him/herself through a dynamic interaction – it does not rely on a one-way flow of telling and instructing.’
Landsberg applies very simple illustrations to enhance the reader’s understanding. There are short examples of working situations, in which the techniques are demonstrated, making the learning more interactive. One of the concepts that struck me within this model is Landsberg’s ability to apply a simple pragmatic logic to everyday interaction. He makes reference to Socrates and how he saw himself as a ‘midwife to understanding’, thus one could ‘help’ people understand, but one could not ‘make’ people understand. Exploring the theory of Socrates, the writer states that ‘the pivotal question is more powerful than the instruction’. The objective being that by asking good questions and allowing the coachee to discover the answer, this encourages innovation and self-empowerment, where otherwise you might have instructed or provided the answer, achieving a completely different outcome with the individual and indeed the job in hand.

Chapter 3 looks at how to elicit feedback from a colleague, using effective listening skills. Landsberg states that managers, who do not consider feedback, are in danger of hindering an essential self-correcting method which will stunt their personal efficiency. Essentially the tools are designed to reinforce a results focused environment, starting with oneself and leading through one’s own learning. I definitely recommend reading this book.
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