Reading List

The folks I coach realize the importance of continuing on the path of reaching and maintaining their fullest potential once we complete the one-on-one coaching process. For them, this reading list provides a continuing education model. Further, many of them want to use the skills they have gained in the coaching engagement to do some entry-level coaching for their own direct reports when the opportunity (or necessity) presents itself.  I applaud this effort on their part; indeed, I do a class for my high-potential groups that helps them along the way.  It is called, "Coaching Tips for Leaders."  My class doesn't make them a certified coach by any means, but it does give them general guidance in the coaching arena.  This reading list is also provided for them and for anybody who wants to learn the basics of coaching.  Only titles and authors are listed.  To read excerpts or buy the book, go online to Amazon, Audible, or Barnes & Noble.

Advancement and Promotion

"What Got You Here Won't Get You There," Marshall Goldsmith

Marshall Goldsmith is the preeminent coach's coach.  I don't know him personally, but I regularly attend continuing education classes he hosts online.  This is his greatest book, and one that I recommend to all the senior folks I coach.  It's about transitioning from one level to the next, and what will and will not work in the new role. Read this book!  Keep it in your library.  It is subtitled, "How Successful People Become Even More Successful."

Anger Management

"Anger Management," David Clark

Anger is a negative emotion that most of us will experience at some point during our lives. Often, it can cause you to explode at the wrong times. This guidebook can help you learn the best way to deal with your anger without exploding or hurting yourself or others.  Anger is mostly grounded in Level 2 of the Energy Level Index and on the Excitable scale of the Hogan HDS.  Keep these assessments in mind as you read or listen to this excellent book.


"Coaching to Solutions: A Managers Toolkit for Performance Delivery," Carole Pemberton

This book is sub-titled, "A manager's toolkit for performance delivery." It provides useful tips and in-depth information on coaching for managers who have no formal training in coaching. It is very well written with case studies and just plain good advice.

"Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in work and Life," Laura Whitworth et al.

"A manager's toolkit for coaching people toward success in work and life," is the subtitle of this book. It is replete with sample coaching conversations, learning exercises, questionnaires, checklists and reproducible forms. It also contains a CD for real-life audio coaching sessions with printable forms.  This will not make you a certified coach, but it will help you understand the process and how to use it as a leader in business.

"Coaching for Breakthrough Success: Proven Techniques for Making Impossible Dreams Possible," Jack Canfield and Dr. Peter Chee

The stated premise of this book is, "At the heart of a great coach is a firm belief that each player is a uniquely valuable individual with distinct giftedness and potential for greatness."  It is a book for coaches, but equally beneficial for people who want to enter the profession.

"Effective Coaching: Lessons From the Coach's Coach," Myles Downey

I particularly like the author's statement on page 108 of the paperback edition, that "The skills involved in coaching can be applied in many different ways and in many different environments, from the workplace to the schoolroom to the sports fields."  My own coaching focus and experience bears that out.  The book covers one-on-one coaching, coaching teams, and more.  Good read!

"Helping People Change: Coaching With Compassion for Lifelong Learning and Growth," Richard Boyatzis, Melvin Smith, & Ellen Van Oosten

This book deals with coaching in a very useful and fundamental fashion by focusing in on the "why" behind the action, and moving forward from one of two vantage points.  The first is coaching for compliance, and the second is coaching with compassion.  It begs the question of which is more effective and answers it promptly, "it's compassion."  It is about the coaches approach more than anything.  This is a book that will convince you that coaching with compassion is a Trojan horse of complexities that yield longer lasting results, whereas coaching for compliance, though sometimes called for as a short-term fix, ameliorates only temporary situations. Coaching can be tough and psychologically threatening for some people.  Coaching with compassion bridges the gap.

Interpersonal Communication

"Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most," Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, Sheila Heen 

It doesn't matter if you are dealing with an under-performing employee, and over-demanding senior, a peer, spouse, or kids, we all fall into the need to have uncomfortable, but essential, discussions now and then.  This is a great book to help you with this challenge.  It will help you raise tough issues without arousing strong emotions, how to keep an even keel during the conversation, to address tough issues without prompting undue defensiveness, and more.  This is an essential book for every leader and one that I highly recommend to people I coach.

Interpersonal Relationships

"Games People Play," Eric Berne, M.D.

This book, which has gone through at least 24 printings, is a classic in the psychology of human relationships.  Dr. Berne outlines a person's "parent," "adult," and "child" (PAC) aspects of personality and how they interact with the same elements in another person.  The interactions are called "games,"  and the theory is "Transactional Analysis."  People engage in playing these games for many reasons: to avoid uncomfortable realities, to rationalize their actions, to get what they want, or just to build rapport.  The games can be good or bad.  In this book, Dr. Berne describes 36 such games, though there are obviously many more.  I use the "PAC" construct to help my clients learn the benefit of communicating adult-to-adult in the business relationships.  

"I'm OK, You're OK," Tomas A. Harris, M.D.

This book is a classic in understanding how people develop basic self-views that can influence their future lives in major ways.  Using sound medical research he helps the reader understand: what motivates responses to people, problems, and life itself, the dynamics of their closest relationships, how past experiences influence present decision-making, and how to restore their freedom to change in order to have more options in life. 


"Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking," Susan Cain

Some of my blogs and all of my coaching distinguish the differing talents of introverts and extraverts.  Carl Jung coined the descriptors and the world went crazy in support of the extravert.  This was a pretty major mistake as it downplayed the great contributions of the introvert.  Both bring tremendous gifts to the table, and both should be honored and, yes, thanked.  The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator is a good assessment primer that most of my coachees complete.  That instrument is fairly basic.  Susan Cain takes the subject to significantly higher levels.  This book was introduced to me by a CEO that I coached, and I in turn continue to recommend it to everybody --especially those who consider themselves to be introverts.


"Energy Leadership: Transforming Your Workplace and Your Life From the Core," Bruce D. Schneider

"The Extraordinary Leader: Turning Good Managers Into Great Leaders," John E. Zenger & Joseph R. Folkman

This is a great follow-on to a coaching engagement around leadership.  (Be sure to get the latest edition.  Mine is 2009, but there may be something newer.)  hTe authors present the newest research on the psychology of leadership, leading in a global environment, measuring improvements in leadership behavior, and recent studies on the importance of follow-through as a coach and leader, and fatal flaws that some leaders need to acknowledge and fix.  I particularly like the research cited in the text.

"Boundaries for Leaders: Why Some People Get Results and Others Don't," Dr. Henry Cloud

This book provides some great tools and techniques to help people who have gone through a coaching regimen to keep on reaching greater successes as leaders.  The author presents 7 leadership boundaries that set the stage for individual and cultural success by (1) helping people identify what matters most, (2) build an emotional climate that fosters brain functioning--something I talk a lot about in my coaching, (3) improve connections that boost energy, (4) create organizational thought patters that reduce the negativity and helplessness that comes from being stuck in Energy Level 1; (5) identify paths to take control of key activities that drive results, (6) drive high-performance teams organized around results, and, (7) how to lead yourself in such a fashion that it protects and enhances the vision. 

"Strengths Based Leadership: Great Leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow," Tom Rath and Barry Conchie

The Clifton Strengths-Finder was the life work of Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. Dr. Clifton was honored by an American Psychological Association Presidential Commendation as the Father of Strengths-Based Psychology.  This Gallup-produced book explains the Strength-Finder assessment and the benefits of understanding leadership through the lens of this model.  Purchasers of this book receive a code to use online to take the assessment.

"Fifth Wave Leadership: The Internal Frontier," The Internal Frontier," Morris R. Schechtman

"First, Break All The Rules: What the World's Greatest Managers Do Differently," Gallup (With Clifton StrengthsFinder)

"Scaling Leadership: Building Organizational Capability and Capacity to Create Outcomes that Matter Most," Robert J. Anderson & William A. Adams

This is a well developed guide for senior leaders to develop conscious leadership at scale within their organizations.  It emphasizes the need to change things up as the organization grows or market challenges change.  The central message is that leadership must evolve to meet the demands of new business complexities and changing political and socioeconomic models emerge.

"NLP: The Essential Guide to Neuro-Linguistic Programming," Tom Hoobyar, Tom Dotz & Susan Sanders

NLP (neuro-linguistic programming) has helped millions to overcome their fears, increase their confidence, and achieve greater success in their personal and professional lives and relationships. This user-friendly guide, written by three seasoned NLP master practitioners and coaches, leads you on a personal journey in using and applying NLP in everyday life. Through their real-life stories, you will experience the NLP strategies you need to achieve specific results in business and in life.

Retention and Turnover

"Reducing Turnover: Lessons From the Security Industry," Dr. Michael E. Goodboe

I have no shame.  This is my book.  Read it!

"Retaining Your Best People," Harvard Business School Press

"Managing Employee Turnover: Dispelling Myths and Fostering evidence-Based Retention Strategies,: David G. Allen & Phil Bryant

"The 7 Hidden Reasons Employees Leave: How to Recognize the Subtle Signs and Act Before It's Too Late," Leigh Branham

"Rethinking Retention in Good Times and Bad: Breakthrough for Keeping Your Best Workers," Richard P. Finnegan

"Riding the Dragon: 10 Lessons for Inner Strength in Challenging Times," Robert J. Wicks


"The Confidence Gap," Russ Harris

A most unusual book, subtitled "Learning the Rules of the Confidence Game," takes a good look at a "game" that can have a bad ending if not played well.  Using the techniques cited in the below book, "A Liberated Mind,"  the author introduces a method you can use to pivot from low self-confidence to the kind of self-confidence that you need to be an excellent leader of yourself and other people.  It can be achieved!


"A Liberated Mind: How to pivot toward what matters," Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D.

Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, the subject of this book, presents a path to self-acceptance and life success in the fullest sense of the word. Though it is a recognized therapy, this book is for the layperson and not for the therapist. Dr. Hayes explains six flexibility skills that lead us to full self-realization.  They are: (1) Diffusion: Seeing our thoughts with enough distance so that we can choose what we can do next without regard to our mind's chatter coming the "the dictator within;" (2) Noticing the story we've constructed about ourselves and gain perspective about who we really are; (3) Acceptance: Allowing ourselves to feel even when the feelings are painful or create a sense of vulnerability; (4) Presence: Directing our attention in an intentional way rather than by mere habit, noticing what is present here and now, inside and out; (5) Values: Choosing the qualities of being and doing that which we want to evolve toward; (6) Action: Creating habits that support the values and qualities we have chosen for ourself. (For Dr. Hayes' TED Talk, see the Recommended TED Talks tab, then in the section "Fear, Apprehension and Negative Self-talk, "Psychological flexibility...,")

"Your Erroneous Zones: Bold but Simple Techniques for Taking Charge of Your Unhealthy Behavior Patterns," Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

This is the book that made Wayne Dyer famous!  His thesis so so simple: If you are not happy with something major or minor in your life, you can change it.  You are in charge of you!  This succinct message made him a superstar on PBS from when this book was released to his death.  Something often discussed in coaching is Energy Level 1 thinking, which is characterized by negativity that can fully define your life if you let it.  If you read no other book by Dr. Wayne Dyer, read this one.

"Excuses Begone!: How to Change Lifelong, Self-Defeating Thinking Habits," Dr. Wayne W. Dye

This book by Wayne Dyer also addresses negative thought patterns and other self-limiters that plague us from time to time.  This and other coaching subjects are addressed in the book.  Excellent and highly helpful read!

"Wishes Fulfilled: Mastering The Are of Manifesting," Dr. Wayne W. Dyer

In the coaching process, a technique often used in something called visualization.  Visualization is used to retrain your mind and to reframe situations and events to look at them more objectively and, yes, more productively.  This and other techniques are discussed in this book by Wayne Dyer that emphasizes using your imagination in new and inventive ways.  Like all of his books, this one tops the charts.

"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success," Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

The sub-title of this book is, "The new psychology of success."  The author is a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist.  This highly respected book is about the mindset behind achievement and complacency and her thesis is simply that one's mindset sets the bedrock for a future that is, or is not, fulfilling.  She takes on the notion, for example, that simply praising our children's intelligence nd ability doe not foster self-esteem that leads to accomplishment, but my indeed set them up for failure.  She doesn't stop there; rather, she goes on to explain how to change the mindset later in life to jolt us out of our own complacency as adults.  Hence, the relationship to coaching.

"Relax: You're Already Perfect," Bruce D. Schneider, Ph.D.

"Uncovering the Life of Your Dreams," Bruce D. Schneider

"Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation," Daniel J. Siegel, M.D.

"No Excuses: The Power of Self-Discipline," Brian Tracy

"Triggers: Creating BehaviorsThat Last; Becoming the Person You want to be," Marshall Goldsmith & Mark Reiter

"Outliers: The Story of Success," Malcolm Gladwell

"Unleash the Power within," Anthony (Tony) Robbins

"Untethered Soul," Michael Singer

This is an excellent book that was influential in the self-discovery that led me to become a coach. The author explores the question of human identity and shows how the development of consciousness can enable us all to learn to live in the present moment and achieve happiness and self-realization.

Teams and Teamwork

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team," Patrick Lencioni

Victim, Victimization and Victim Thinking

"Can't Hurt Me," David Goggins (Audible only; Caution: street language throughout)

This is one of the most remarkable audiobooks that I have ever listened to.  It is the story an African American man who lived most of his early years feeling sorry for himself and making every excuse to justify why he had a right!  He was a classic Energy Level 1* dude who hated the world because he was convinced that the world hated him.  That is, until he took charge of his own destiny and decided that nobody could change his life but him.  He cheated his way through grade and high school school and even tried to cheat on his military entrance exam to get into the Air Force.  Meanwhile he tipped the scales at 300 pounds.  When he got out of the Air Force he got a job an as exterminator in fast food restaurants, working after hours and regaining any the weight he had lost in the military.  When the truth that he was falling back into his familiar routine hit him, he had a good talk to himself and realized anew that only he could change himself.  This reinvigorated him and he went at life in an amazingly focused and relentless way.  No nonsense determination took the lead.  This story is about him becoming a Navy SEAL, an ultimate athlete, and a legend.  Please listen to the audiobook and, if you wish, read the book later.  This audiobook presentation parallels David's lifestyle.  It employs a very unique technique that includes the standard reading of the text, but also taking periodic podcast-like detours to discussions between David and the reader, Adam Skolnick,  in which David sets the scene or takes a deeper dive into what led up to the scene.  *Level 1 energy is described in the Assessments section in the Menu.

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