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Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Article Type: Suggested reading From: Strategic Direction, Volume 30, Issue 9
Coaching and mentoring at work: the relationship is the key
The growth of coaching in recent years has been exponential. A recent issue of People Management (May 2014) noted, from a CIPD survey of human resource learning and development professionals, how coaching, mentoring and other face-to-face disciplines were rapidly gaining popularity and that such services were on offer in 76 per cent of those surveyed – and up to 85 per cent in public sector bodies. This is a staggeringly high percentage and may well be a cause for concern given that the coaching field remains a relatively unregulated market readily open to inexperienced new entrants.
Gone seem to be the days when clients were cautious about owning up to seeing a coach, or therapist in the workplace, or opaque when asked who was mentoring and sponsoring their career progression. Times have certainly changed, and, arguably, there is now quite a cachet, even a boast, when talking about one’s coach, mentor or therapist.
As the books under review illustrate, it is now possible to choose between quite a variety of coaches oriented to differing aspects of the client’s life (i.e. sports, life, diversity, high-potential, gender, etc.) each offering varying approaches in how such face-to-face engagement will be structured. The approaches on offer range from the psychoanalytic to the existential to the humanistic and beyond. The lure and appeal of face-to-face support – however, it is described – is big business and whether it comes under the heading of coaching, counselling, mentoring or therapy, it remains a largely unregulated field.
Continuing unregulation is not only a minefield for clients but also for those seeking to organise, authorise and assess the competence of those claiming to have the necessary skills, experience and expertise to work ethically with their clients. And this is where the four books reviewed are of tremendous help as they each, in differing ways, examine the world of coaching and mentoring.
Everyone Needs a Mentor
5th edition, David Clutterbuck, Emerald Group Publishing Limited, CIPD, London 2014.
This is a timely update of the fourth edition, which was published a decade ago, from a prolific and accomplished writer with extensive experience in this field. It remains a gem and demands a place on the bookshelf of those involved in the business of coaching and mentoring because of its down-to-earth and practical approach.
The 21 Chapters build from an introductory “The What and Why of Mentoring,” through to an examination of the structuring of such programmes for different types of mentees. The Appendix outlines 20 case studies – covering a diverse range of organisational contexts – which illustrate very well the potency, variability and applicability of mentoring programmes in the workplace.
The book offers a robust “way in” to those interested both in introducing a mentoring programme and for those who want to re-appraise their existing mentoring schemes. Very much a “How To” book, it will be invaluable to those charged with setting up and running mentoring programmes within the workplace as well as practitioner mentors. The author places considerable emphasis on the many practical and ethical considerations which need to be examined before a mentoring scheme is introduced.
In conclusion, well worth a purchase and – as the title suggests – “everyone should have one”!
Coaching and Mentoring: Theory and Practice
2nd edition, Bob Garvey, Sage Publications, London, 2014, ISBN 978-1-44627-233-6 pbk.
First published in 2009, this second edition adds to what has become a valuable text and presents a broadly based introduction to the study and practice of coaching and mentoring for students and practitioners alike. Case studies are included which illustrate and extend the core text and the book is supported by a “companion website” which offers power point slides for lecturers and relevant website references for students. Chapters conclude with explorative questions inviting the interested reader to reflect further on the material presented.
The 15 Chapters are organised into four parts as follows: Part 1: An Introduction to Coaching and Mentoring; Part 2: Influences on Coaching and Mentoring; Part 3: Contemporary Issues in Coaching and Mentoring; and Part 4: Towards a theory of Coaching and Mentoring.
It is especially pleasing to see that a chapter has been devoted to highlighting the importance of “power” within the coaching or mentoring relationship. This has tended to be a somewhat neglected, yet critically significant, facet of such face-to-face relationships. As such, the chapter provides a good enough way into exploring this topic – one which all those involved in such work should examine fully.
One of the most interesting features of this book is the penultimate Chapter 14 which introduces “A USA perspective on coaching and mentoring” written by Dawn Chandler, an American Professor of Management. This is an important inclusion because American perspectives on coaching, mentoring and therapy have pretty much dominated this field of work in spite of the sterling efforts of European thinkers and practitioners in recent years. As in the UK, the US field is flush with coaches oriented towards different sections of the business and social world and the US “market” too remains largely unregulated.
The final chapter – “Towards a Theory of Coaching and Mentoring” – helpfully pulls together the underlying themes explored in the book. What emerges is how coaching and mentoring is characterised by its diversity of orientations, definitions and approaches and that there is no “one best way.” However, as the attentive reader may well have deduced, it is the relationship which emerges as the key factor in such interactions almost irrespective of the orientation and individual approach of the coach or mentor.
Coaching and Mentoring for Business
Grace McCarthy, Sage Publications, London, 2014, ISBN 978 0 85702 336 0 pbk.
This book positions coaching and mentoring as a means of facilitating organisational effectiveness and for enhancing personal development.
The book is geared towards the student and organised into 12 chapters and is supported by a “companion website” which offers material for lecturers and students; a valuable learning resource which also includes self-assessment exercises. What is quite outstanding about this book is the effort the author has put into referencing and cataloguing pages and pages of useful websites providing the reader with a really quite excellent set of resources to pursue.
The introductory chapters – including a very helpful one on coaching and mentoring models and frameworks – present an overview on the theory, practice, skills of mentoring and coaching in organisational settings. The book then concentrates on the contribution which coaching and mentoring can have in different contexts such as innovation, strategy development and organisational change. Each chapter concludes with references and a listing of web pages to explore further and a number of case study vignettes are also included which add tone and colour and link the reader back to the organisational practicalities and realities of coaching and mentoring at work.
There is much for the novice as well as the more experienced coach to draw upon to enhance their skills and practice. I especially liked the reference to Natale and Diamante’s (2005) view of the coaching process “[…] as a series of checks: an alliance check which defines what will be addressed in coaching; a credibility check of the coach; a likeability check for compatibility between coach and client; a dialogue and skill acquisition stage; and a final action planning stage” (p. 15).
Readers keen on models and frameworks will be pleased that in addition to the familiar “GROW” (i.e. goal, reality, options and will) one, we have “CLEAR” (i.e. contract, listen, explore, action and review) amongst several others.
An informative, practical and readable book.
Making Sense of Coaching
Angelique Du Toit, Sage Publications, London, 2014, ISBN 978 0857 256 16 pbk.
As a previous Editor of the International Journal of Mentoring and Coaching, the author – an experienced and accomplished executive coach – is well placed to offer perspectives and perceptions in “making sense” of coaching, as the apt title of this work indicates.
The book is organised into nine chapters which map the nature and pattern of a coaching relationship. The author thus begins with introductory chapters which introduce and underpin the nature and practicalities of the coaching engagement and then moves onto some of the underlying philosophical considerations which should demand the attention of any serious-minded coach.
Having set out a sound basis to the process of coaching, the bulk of what follows concerns itself with how a coach seeks to make sense of the client’s material and of the interactional dynamics which are generated within the coaching relationship. The author describes what goes on within a coaching relationship as “the black box” of coaching and advocates promoting a mood of constructive scepticism to encourage the coachee to make sense of the ever-present ambiguity of their situation. It is this emphasis on reflection and “sense-making” which marks this book out from the other ones reviewed. The book is directed at the more systemic and eclectic-oriented coach and highlights the significance of the coach’s philosophy and critical self-reflection as central to the coaching relationship.
This is a very interesting book and well worth a read.
Overview of the four books
Across all four books it is the quality of the dynamic relationship between the coach and client which emerges as the single most significant factor in such private 1:1 engagements, irrespective of the orientation or “school” of practice to which the coach, mentor, counsellor or therapist is aligned.
Each of these books has valuable insights, offers good common sense and describes ways of engaging with clients in an ethical, informed and respectful manner. However, as with many things, it depends what one is looking for and the four books reviewed, whilst sharing many features are quite different in what they offer.
My recommendation for the reader new to this field would be to buy a copy of Everyone needs a Mentor because of its uncomplicated format and the range of material covered. This is closely followed by Coaching and Mentoring which also covers the ground very well again in an uncomplicated and interesting manner. It is a good read.
For the more nuanced and experienced reader, I would go for Making Sense of Coaching because of its philosophical base and because it hits at the heart of what I consider coaching, mentoring, counselling and therapy is all about which is making the best sense one may of one’s engagement face-to-face with the client (i.e. coachee, mentee).
This is not to suggest that coaching and mentoring for business should be dismissed out of hand, or neglected, however.
Reviewed by Michael Walton Director, People in Organisations Ltd, Pointon, UK.
The review was originally published in Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 46 No. 6, pp. 345-348.
Handbook of Management and Creativity
Edited by Chris, Bilton and Stephen, Cummings, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2014, £33.56, (Hardback); £38.71 (Paperback).
The editors and fellow contributors of this work are well known in the disciplines of innovation and strategy. Chris Bilton is the Director of the Centre for Cultural Policy Studies at the University of Warwick, UK, and Stephen Cummings is Professor of Management at Victoria Business School, New Zealand. Together, they have also written Creative Strategy: Reconnecting Business and Innovation (Wiley, New York, 2010).
Their fundamental argument in this Handbook is that management and creativity represent complementary functions and processes. The editors rightly acknowledge that each incorporates apparently contradictory elements, but these “are not confined to two halves of a mental map or two separate floors in a building” (p. 10). The editors of the Handbook begin by distinguishing creativity from management and argue that they should not necessarily be antithetical.
The audience for this book is academics studying creativity and innovation, as well as senior professionals trying to bring creative ideas to the market in a more sophisticated and planned way.
The heart of this Handbook is a detailed explanation of the model of “bisociation.” This refers to the combination of apparently contradictory or paradoxical aspects Bilton and Cummings appropriated the term from Koestler’s The Act of Creation (Arkana, London, 1989), where “biosociation” is the process of making connections between or across different frames or references, suggesting that assumptions can be questioned (p. 241).
This model describes four key aspects – innovation, entrepreneurship, leadership and organisation. Each of these four elements has associated behaviours as follows:
Innovation – Discovery and creating.
Entrepreneurship – Dilettantism and diligence.
Leadership – Interacting and envisioning.
Organisation – Controlling and unleashing.
The integrating approach in this “bisociation” model echoes throughout the text. However, I would have liked this term better and earlier indexed, highlighted and explained. Its importance in the Handbook is often lost. The editors write an introduction to each part, showing where the chapters which follow fit in their model. This makes understanding much easier, and the authors are to be commended for this. They did not just compile a collection of fragmented contributions: they actually edited!
The Handbook is the result of the contributions by 30 authors, mostly from the UK, but also from Australia, New Zealand, Switzerland, Denmark, Sweden and Canada. It presents 18 Chapters in five parts:
Part I […], creative innovation, includes chapters on innovation in film-making, creativity outside the creative industries, innovation in services and beyond Western views of creativity.
Part II […], creative entrepreneurship, highlights that innovation is “not the only thing,” there are lessons from “happenstance,” the role of cultural entrepreneurship and the creativity of entrepreneuring in the film, “The Full Monty.”
Part III […], creative leadership, explores leadership in turbulent times, a creativity friendly leadership theory, creativity in leadership development and creative leadership in practice at the Royal Shakespeare Company.
Part IV […], creative organisation, examines “transoganisational” work, the paradox of planning pro-creative office design, stimulating creative thinking through “hybrid” thinking and shaping creative environments through the arts.
Part V […], around the creative cycle, concludes the Handbook by exploring creative management in practice in addressing their “biosociation” model with “timely balance.”
I especially liked the four chapters on creative leadership. Here, the various contributors show how even the much lauded visionary and transformative and authentic leadership have still not contributed much to encouraging creative capacity among followers. The chapter on creative leadership development cleverly shows how “bisociation” is aided by convergent and divergent learning experiences, while the chapter on the Royal Shakespeare Company (RSC) is a real gem.
The RSC is an iconic global brand whose product is intertwined with the very identity of a nation, confronted, in recent years, by increasing external competition and internal change. They rightly suggest “creative leadership in such a setting would be quite a challenge” (p. 249). The executive Director, Vikki Heywood and the editors pose a new model of leadership where creativity is fostered beyond a family and a team to an “ensemble.” Beginning with leading from the middle by “ensemble,” there were then four phases in creative renewal at the RSC – promote something distinctive from within; envision or “suss” by embodying a new way of proceeding; map the way towards the future and new relationships; and link key nodes or stakeholders.
The various contributors in the Handbook rightly highlight that creativity is not the exclusive preserve of disorganised geniuses but that creativity exists in both large and small organisations and that creativity is not just about creative production in well-funded laboratories (iPads) or creative consumption (a la “Master Chef”). This is a wise refrain sounded 12 years earlier by Richard Florida in The Rise of the New Creative Class (Basic Books, New York, 2002) when he says that hairdressers can be creative too!
The book is generously indexed, and each chapter provides substantial references. Most chapters have questions for discussion which are carefully linked with the arguments and the conclusions which precede them. It is a thoughtful piece of work.
The book would have been enriched if there was a little more consideration on the barriers to creativity, such as presented in Isaksen, Dorval and Treffinger’s Creative Approaches to Problem-Solving (Sage, Los Angeles, 2011). At times, the Handbook seems to assume there is universal support for creative activity. Further, I would have liked even more advice and research evidence on how individuals and organisations could develop adaptive and creative capacity.
The book could have been further enhanced by the provision of even more summaries and integrating figures, and not just for visual appeal. There is a lot of (albeit worthwhile) text here, but each chapter could have been more accessible for the busy researcher and professional. There are further models in most chapters which could have been more attractively presented.
A real strength of this Handbook is that it provides serious, up-to-date research in creativity and how to successfully foster and manage it. I like how this Handbook dispels the viewpoints that management kills creativity or that creativity, at its best, is just about making new products or, at its worst, is just meaningless jargon.
This is a worthwhile book to access for a deeper understanding of creativity and how to bring enlightened management to creative entrepreneurship. In the Forward, Professor David Wilson from The Open University suggested that “creativity will have to be managed more creatively” (p. 18). This Handbook contributes well to that endeavour. I recommend it highly.
Reviewed by Greg Michael, Latemore, Latemore Consulting, Brisbane, Australia.
The review was originally published in Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 35 No. 7, pp. 670-672.