The Heart of Coaching: Using Transformational Coaching to Create a High-Performance Coaching Culture
Book Review by Bryan Lubic
Crane, Thomas G. (2012). The Heart of Coaching: Using Transformational Coaching to Create a High-Performance Coaching Culture (4th ed). San Diego, CA: FTA Press. 239 pages with removable quick-reference card. ISBN-13: 978-0-9660874-3-7.
Based on the premise that "corporate culture sets the organizational context for human behavior. It creates the framework for performance expectations and the ways in which people relate to one another," (p. 19), Crane has developed a model and process of coaching that supports deep and effective organizational change by helping individuals create the very culture they need to support their own high performance transformation. This book provides the rationale and shows the process in an easy to read, flowing style that I enjoyed and will be referencing frequently in my own practice and training.
You might like this book if:
you are a fan of coaching in organizations, and would like to continue to develop your knowledge of the field;
you enjoy or want to learn more about integrating mindfulness, awareness, and a deeper sense of purpose into your coaching practice, especially for the purpose of supporting organizational development and transformation;
you would like to learn a model for coaching that will help individuals create and guide their own coaching conversations and relationships to support themselves and their organization.
Key strengths and contributions of this book
The integration of personal development and transformation with organizational success is refreshing, renewing, and unique.
As Crane immediately explains, "the premise of the book is simple: As coaching becomes a predominant cultural practice, it will create a performance-focused, feedback-rich organization capable of creating and sustaining a competitive advantage," (p. 12).
His approach is based in the firm belief that we need to focus on "touching people's spirits and rekindling what deeply matters to them...we do not need another book on managing people that shows us yet another technique on how to get them to do what we want them to do," (p. 12).
However, he very quickly warns: "Believe nothing that you read in this book." And, true to the author's intention, we are prepared to take a journey that the author hopes will stimulate our thinking, and engage our heart, in order to "integrate coaching as a new way of thinking and a new way of interacting with people" (p. 13).
And so our journey begins, to learn more about "the art of assisting people to enhance their effectiveness, in a way they feel helped," where the coach will act “as a guide by challenging and supporting people in achieving their personal and organizational objectives," (p. 31). The coaching process, then, “becomes the foundation for creating the true "high-performance, feedback-rich" culture" (p. 31).
2. The combination of depth of discussion on coaching techniques and the effective use of reference materials to support use and application is insightful and helpful.
The 7 Characteristics of Transformational Coaching
I found Crane's description of the characteristics helpful because they are the result of his own examination of other models and his experience in practice. The result is a more "normal sounding" description of coaching elements.
Transformational Coaching is data-based, focused on performance and relationship, and is slower, not faster. This last point--slower, not faster--relates to Crane's point that we need to slow down in order to develop connection, deepen learning, and facilitate relationship and transformation, and is woven into the Transformational Coaching process.
Transformational Coaching also requires more heart, more humility, balance, self-responsibility and "dialogue," which Crane explains in deeper detail with an entire chapter devoted to more effective communication.
This is one of the real highlights of this book: Crane's return to the central importance of relationship, intention, and awareness. And as you read this book, you'll find relevant quotes on the sidelines of the page, supporting Crane's points as well as your own transformation.
The Transformational Coaching Model and Process
Crane explains that Transformational Coaching is accomplished in three phases:
The Foundation Phase, which establishes the coaching relationship;
The Feedback Loop, where behaviorally-based feedback is shared through centered and positively intentioned dialogue;
The Forwarding-the-Action Phase, where coach and client create momentum and next steps to create successful change.
Each phase includes several specific steps, each with more detailed explanations and examples. Like other models, Crane uses acronyms, bulleted lists, tables, and other devices to help illustrate the process.
3. Effective format, layout and arrangement for easy reading and reference
My reading style has changed over time. I used to read books one time...now, I need to skim them first, review them later, re-read more deeply at a later time, and then be able to reference them further down the road. When books are written and arranged in a way that supports my new reading needs, they get read, reviewed, and referenced. The Heart of Coaching makes it easy to do this through effective use of white space, bullets, tables, and visualizations, including a well-designed job-aid of the Transformational Coaching process and an appendix, with a sample worksheet.
Bottom line: Recommended for coaches, leaders, and individuals
The Heart of Coaching is an excellent choice for fans of both coaching and mindfulness. Crane doesn’t shy away from advocating for both: a heart-centered approach that creates valuable results for individuals and organizations. One final tip: Consider reading the last chapter, Chapter 17, first. It's quick, clear, and concise. And it's where Crane re-connects the relationship between individual change, organizational change, and the process of transformational coaching that facilitates the transformation of it all.
Bryan Lubic, M.A., CCMC, loves all things related to personal and professional career and leadership development. He currently serves as the Director of Career Education and Advising at University of California, San Diego, where he is privileged and proud to lead a team of six super-stellar advisors on a bold journey to support the success of students and alumni in reaching their awesome and inspiring professional goals. He’s (kind-of, sort-of) (in)famous for using Post-its and (occasionally bad) puns in creative and inspiring ways to help people have their own “A-Ha!” moments. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org