5 Books That Helped Shape My Coaching Skills


Hi, all! And Happy August! 

I took a bit of a breather in July -- who knew blogging three times a week would be so intense?! Since June was packed full of fantastic learning and concentrated writing, I spent July unwinding, enjoying summer, and exploring non-HR-related topics.

I'm back and eager to talk about one of my favorite topics/skills/facets of personal development: coaching

Similar to the many twists and turns in my life, coaching fell into my consciousness by way of StrengthsFinders - an assessment that helps to determine what you really excel at. One of my strengths had "life coach" as an example of how that particular strength could manifest itself. Up until that point, I didn't really know much about coaching, but was quickly intrigued. I trained at and graduated from the International Coach Academy and have worked mostly with gay men - covering everything from dating to building a business.

There are so many books out there that provide helpful information about coaching. Yet if I had to whittle down a list to five books that made a difference in my own coaching and personal growth path, here they are:

  1. The Art of Possibility: Transforming Professional and Personal Life by Rosamund Stone Zander and Benjamin Zander.
    I'll admit it. There are few words that get me more excited than Possibility. To me, this word sings of expansion, boundlessness, imagination, and limitless desire. Possibility is all about what could be. This is one of the most powerful postures a person can be in, as they're exploring themselves, a solution to a project, or figuring out what's next. Too often we settle for what's "realistic" (boring/limiting) and put ourselves in a self-imposed straight-jacket. The Zanders have a beautiful way of leading the reader through 12 different practices. I love how each practice is grounded in such human, tangible examples. It teeters on that careful precipice of big ideas and real-world actions.

  2. Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life from the Core by Bruce D. Schneider
    This gem was gifted to me from one of my favorites humans (and coaches) that I met during my six years in Chicago - Natasha Lindor. The author, Bruce Schneider, is the founder and CEO of iPEC Coaching. What I found so entrancing about this book is that it centers on one element - Energy. Schneider notes in the first page that, "Everything you see, hear, smell, taste, touch, and even think is made up of vibrating, living energy." Now, you may think this is a bit "woo woo" abstract talk, but each energy level is grounded and delivers practical application. How do we lead? How do we act? How do we show up? It's all driven by our energy. That one precious resources we all have and can tap into.

  3. Co-Active Coaching: Changing Business, Transforming Lives by Henry & Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, and Laura Whitworth
    My coach, Lou Kaucic, whom I will be forever grateful for, recommended this book to me shortly after I leapt into my own coaching practice. What I love about the Co-Active Model is how human-centered and whole it is. Their approach talks a lot about curiosity, intuition, self-management, and deepen/forward. For instance, intuition is about dancing in the moment. The "Wheel of Life" is a discovery tool I've used religiously with my clients. It's a simple way to take a snapshot of a client's life - where they are now, in order to help uncover where they want to be. If you're looking for an approach that truly believes in the whole person, this is a book to pick up.

  4. The Heart of Coaching by Thomas Crane
    Coaching is a process that many describe as an art (which I wouldn't disagree with). What I really appreciate about Crane's approach to what he calls "Transformational Coaching" is that heart plays such a vital role in this process. While heart is one element of this approach, it's really grounded in communication. The all-important listening, understanding, and communicating powerfully, from the beginning of a session until the very end.

  5. Empowerment: The Art of Creating Your Life As You Want It by David Gershon and Gail Straub
    This book was a suggestion from a dear acquaintance and coach, Tom. He's one of the most kind-hearted, soulful people I've met. Tom suggested this book as a way to dive deeper into the heart of who I am. I'll admit I still haven't made it through this entire book, which is packed full of deep reflections and exercises. The journey of this book covers emotions, relationships, sexuality, body, money, work, and spirituality. This isn't for the faint of heart. Of the few sections I tackled, each one took me to a place that brought with it powerful lessons, as well as a bit of needed pain.

What's one personal growth book that had a big impact on your life? Leave it in the comments! I'd love to hear about it and add it to my reading list.