Charlton review: Learn to Coach

Learn to Coach

John Charlton leafs through a useful guide on coaching

By Nicola Stevens

Publisher: Howtobooks

Pages: 224 Price: £9.99

ISBN: 1-84528-005-9


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Coaching, like the whereabouts of Lord Lucan, is still shrouded in mystery. Is a coach there to get the best out of clients? Are they a mentor? A cod-psychologist? Or a personal career adviser? I attended a How to Coach course a couple of years ago and was little the wiser at the end of it.

Although I can now build a bridge from 10 plastic bricks in one minute, so it wasn’t a complete waste of time.

Thankfully, there are no such stunts as Nicola Stevens attempts to cast light on the mysteries of coaching in her book Learn to Coach. She writes: “Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them learn rather than teaching them.”

Throughout the book Stevens dispenses very practical advice and wisdom on how to achieve this. She goes through the mechanics of the client-coach relationship, from initial client contact to after-care service. And she addresses the burning question for training managers and trainers who want to expand their horizons – how to set up as a coach.

There are, writes Stevens five easy steps: become a trained and accredited coach; be professional; identify customers and create awareness; network and exploit professional contacts; and set professional fees.

Unfortunately, she doesn’t suggest how much to charge, but my experience in paying for professional services indicates the answer is usually ‘lots’.

Now readers will know that it’s often easier to dispense advice than to follow it through, and I think Stevens should have included more specific information on how to become a coach. And an attributed case study of how a named person became a coach would have helped.

What is helpful is Stevens’ practical approach to the relationship between coach and client. For instance, she details techniques for measuring progress, and how to put a client at ease.

Nevertheless, despite the book’s practical approach to the topic, the reader is still left feeling that coaching, like the romantic allure of England football coach Sven Goran Eriksson, is something that can’t quite be pinned down.

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