7 Best Coaching Books & Must-Reads for Aspiring and Established Coaches

7 Best Coaching Books & Must-Reads for Aspiring and Established Coaches

Coaches have the chance to inspire change and every strategy can ignite the potential of their clients, that’s exactly why staying sharp is non-negotiable.

In the digital age we live in, we are blessed with hundreds of learning mediums; from digital courses and expert blog posts to learning programs at the top world universities, but there is one medium that has held its ground throughout the centuries as the best source for knowledge and expansion—books.

So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just getting started, the right book can be your secret weapon.

Here’s a curated list of top coaching books that are absolute must-reads.  The list is packed with the best coaching books filled with insights, practical tips, and compelling stories that can elevate your coaching style and game to the next level.

1.  “The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever” by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

As a coach, sometimes it might feel like you are doing all the talking. Michael Bungay Stanier’s “The Coaching Habit” flips the script. A rather unorthodox idea, but as a coach, you can better plan out their entire program by simply listening. This book teaches just that and it is no wonder why it’s regarded as one of the best coaching books of all time.

The Coaching Habit is all about the power of curiosity and the art of asking great questions. Stanier serves up seven essential questions that cut through the noise and get to the heart of the matter, making it easier to lead conversations that truly hold significance.

This coaching book addresses these questions:

  • “What’s on your mind?” – This kickstart question opens up the conversation, allowing the coachee to share whatever is most important or pressing for them.
  • “And what else?” – Known as the AWE question, this follow-up encourages them to go deeper, revealing more layers or perspectives that might not initially come up.
  • “What’s the real challenge here for you?” – This focus question helps to pinpoint the core issue they’re facing, steering the discussion toward what really matters.
  • “What do you want?” – This foundation question clarifies their goals or what they hope to achieve, making sure the conversation is aligned with their objectives.
  • “How can I help?” – Sometimes called the lazy question, it lets the coachee express exactly how they need your support, tailoring the session to be more effective.
  • “If you’re saying yes to this, what are you saying no to?” – This question prompts them to think about the trade-offs and implications of their choices, helping with thoughtful decision-making.
  • “What was most useful for you?” – Ending with this learning question encourages them to reflect on what they found valuable in the conversation, reinforcing their learning and growth.

 If you want to make your coaching more impactful and less directive, this book is your guide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn to ask the right questions to unlock potential.
  • Build a habit of effective coaching that fits into everyday interactions.
  • Shift from advice-giving to empowering others through curiosity.

2. “Co-Active Coaching: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life” by Karen Kim sey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl

"Co-Active Coaching: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life" by Karen Kim sey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, and Phillip Sandahl

Co-Active Coaching” is like the Swiss Army knife of coaching books and it’s definitely a list-topper of any compilation of best coaching books to read. It introduces the Co-Active model, which incorporates the essence of being (the co) with action (the active).

This approach is perfect for coaches looking to inspire transformative change. Whether you’re dealing with personal development or organizational challenges, the tools and techniques in this book are designed to create deep and lasting impact.

Co-Active Coaching also helps coaches perfect the three levels of listening – internal listening, focused listening, and global listening. First, internal listening involves being aware of your own thoughts and reactions during a session, helping you stay present and focused on your coachee. 

Next, focused listening is about giving your full attention to your coachee, absorbing not just their words but also their tone and body language, which deepens your connection and understanding.

Lastly, Global Listening broadens your awareness to include the overall environment and the unspoken dynamics of the conversation, capturing the full essence of the interaction.

Key Takeaways:

  • Master the Co-Active model to foster deep, meaningful change.
  • Access a wealth of exercises and strategies for immediate application as well as the three levels of listening.
  • Enhance your coaching relationships with a client-centered approach.

3. “Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us” by Daniel H. Pink

"Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us" by Daniel H. Pink

Motivation is the fuel that keeps the coaching engine running, and Daniel H. Pink’s “Drive” is the ultimate coaching manual for understanding what truly motivates us.

Coaches, regardless of their field of expertise, can find insights to better inspire and engage their clients, leading to more fulfilling and productive coaching outcomes.

Pink dives into the science of motivation, uncovering that autonomy, mastery, and purpose are key drivers. Pink reveals that true motivation comes from within and breaks down into three key elements: autonomy, mastery, and purpose. He explains that autonomy—the ability to have control over our own work—fuels engagement and creativity.

Mastery is about the desire to continually improve and excel in something meaningful, which keeps people driven and focused. Finally, purpose connects our work to a larger cause, giving it greater significance and making us more fulfilled.

Coaches can use these insights to inspire and energize their clients, helping them find deeper satisfaction and productivity in their pursuits.

Key Takeaways:

  • Discover the three pillars of motivation: autonomy, mastery, and purpose.
  • Apply these principles to boost motivation and performance in clients.
  • Use real-world examples to understand and inspire motivational change.

4. “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

"Mindset: The New Psychology of Success" by Carol S. Dweck

Carol Dweck’s “Mindset has changed the game for coaches everywhere.

With this book, Dweck explores the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, showing how our beliefs can shape our potential.

As a coach, helping your clients develop a mindset focused on growth is a surefire way to help them overcome challenges and reach new heights. It’s all about shifting perspectives and embracing the power of ‘yet.’

Key Takeaways:

  • Differentiate between fixed and growth mindsets and their impacts.
  • Cultivate a growth mindset to encourage continuous improvement.
  • Use practical strategies to help clients embrace challenges and learn from them.

5. “The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance” by W. Timothy Gallwey

"The Inner Game of Tennis: The Classic Guide to the Mental Side of Peak Performance" by W. Timothy Gallwey

W. Timothy Gallwey’s “The Inner Game of Tennis” is all about mastering the mental tennis game, which is crucial in any coaching scenario. Gallwey’s insights into quieting the mind and focusing on the present can help coachees excel, whether they’re athletes, executives, or anyone striving for peak performance.

Some of Gallwey’s tactics include the importance of trusting your intuitive “Self 2″—the part of you that knows how to perform tasks without overthinking. He suggests practicing non-judgmental observation, which means noticing what’s happening without labeling it as good or bad, to keep a clear mind.

Additionally, focusing on the here and now helps maintain concentration and avoid distractions from past mistakes or future anxieties. This is a perfect strategy for coaches who have clients who struggle with self-doubt. Lastly, Gallwey advises letting go of the need to control every detail, and trusting your training and instincts instead, which can significantly reduce stress and enhance performance both for you and your clients.

These techniques are valuable not just in sports but in any coaching scenario to help clients achieve their best.

Key Takeaways:

  • Understand the concept of the inner game and its relevance to coaching.
  • Learn techniques to help clients overcome mental barriers and focus.
  • Apply Gallwey’s principles to enhance performance in any area of life.

6. “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable” by Patrick Lencioni

"The Five Dysfunctions of a Team: A Leadership Fable" by Patrick Lencioni

If you’re working with teams, Patrick Lencioni’s “The Five Dysfunctions of a Team” is a must-read. Through compelling writing, Lencioni reveals the common pitfalls that can derail teams and offers strategies to address them. Some of those strategies are quite simple and can be implemented into any coaching program.

To name just a few, you built trust by encouraging team members to be open and honest with each other, which creates a solid foundation for collaboration. Lencioni also highlights the value of healthy conflict, where team members feel safe to challenge ideas and push for the best solutions. Implementing these simple yet powerful tactics can transform team dynamics, leading to more effective and cohesive groups.

For small to medium and even big teams of coachees, Lencioni’s advice can make coaching sessions fun and incredibly productive.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify the five dysfunctions that can hinder team performance.
  • Use practical tools and strategies to build stronger teams.
  • Enhance team collaboration and effectiveness through targeted coaching.

7. “Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time” by Susan Scott

"Fierce Conversations: Achieving Success at Work and in Life One Conversation at a Time" by Susan Scott

Communication is at the heart of coaching, and Susan Scott’s “Fierce Conversations” is all about mastering it. Scott advocates for honesty and directness in conversations, helping coaches cut through superficial dialogue to address the real issues. If you want to have more meaningful and impactful conversations, this book is your guide.

Key Takeaways:

  • Learn to have honest, impactful conversations that drive change.
  • Develop skills to tackle difficult topics with confidence.
  • Use effective communication as a tool for transformation and growth.

Wrapping Up

There you have it, a valuable handful of the best coaching books of all time you can enjoy and extract a lot of value from. From the best books for coaching you can expect to improve your coaching style and skills and change the lives of your clients.

That being said, don’t wait to pick up some of these books and track on the path toward masterful coaching sessions.

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