The Top Coaching Books for 2023 and 2024 To Make You a Better Coach
Starting out in the world of coaching can be as thrilling as it is daunting. Whether you’re fine-tuning your practice in business coaching, delving deeper into the nuances of life coaching, or are close to cementing your role as a professional coach, there’s a universe of knowledge to take in, and finding the right guidance is key.
When I look back to when I started to learn about coaching, I wish I had a ‘must read’ list of books I could trust. And here it is! Some of them have been crucial in my personal development, some others helped me to shift in different ways, but all of them have contributed to who I am as a coach today. In this article, I explore not just the key coaching books that I have read, but I also share some must-reads on my wish list. This list can be your compass in the vast sea of available literature: a selection of titles worth investing your time in to grow your coaching skills and become a better coach.
The Best Coaching Books of 2024
When I started to learn about coaching I remember it was difficult to find a compass in the myriad of available resources. There’s an overwhelming amount of books on the subject, and finding those that align with your coaching focus can be daunting. Coaching books offer more than knowledge — they are a source of inspiration and continuous professional development.
Organizational coaching, career coaching, leadership and executive coaching, life coaching, business coaching, team coaching… Which books are relevant? Which ones are not in line with what I need? Which ones are too advanced for me at this stage?
My selection of coaching books focuses specifically on professional 1-1 coaching. It is useful both for seasoned coaches and leaders whose mindset is about helping and developing others. They’re about honing your ability to coach and mentor effectively in any professional setting.
This selection of the best 20 coaching books to read in 2024 is the perfect alternative to live classes, for those who prefer to choose their preferred pace and time to learn. As I get busier and busier, I am finding it easier to read a book on my sofa rather than attending a live class during office hours. I have an impressive reading list that I will share together with my favorite coaching books. Let’s dive in!
The Coaching Mindset: 8 Ways to Think Like a Coach by Chad W. Hall
‘The Coaching Mindset’ by C. W. Hall dives into the psychology underpinning the coaching profession, tackling the coach’s own mindset. Hall, with his extensive experience in coaching development, recognises that the real challenges aren’t always about what coaches do, but about how they think. In his book, he shares eight key thought patterns that every coach needs to nail down. It’s not just about learning new tricks. It’s about developing a mindset that naturally leads to successful coaching.
This book was my ideal starting point in the coaching literature because it is about thinking as a coach, instead of starting from what questions to ask. Coming from a background in mentoring and consulting, my challenge was to stop thinking with my head to make room for the others’ perspectives. This required a mindset shift that is the first step in the journey of becoming a coach.
I strongly advise ‘The Coaching Mindset’ to anyone who wants to think as a coach.
The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by M. Bungay Stainer
In ‘The Coaching Habit’, Michael Bungay Stanier shows how coaching can be a seamless, everyday interaction and not just a formal, lengthy process. Stainer’s extensive work with managers is the added value. It’s a great book for leaders who don’t have a lot of time but still want to make a big impact with their team by embracing a coaching mindset.
This book serves as a valuable primer for beginner coaches. It introduces you to the concept of powerful questions and how to use different types of questions at different times during a coaching conversation.
The coaching book gives you seven powerful questions that get right to the point. Each one is about opening up better conversations (‘The Kickstart Question’), staying on track (‘The Awe Question’), getting to the heart of problems (‘The Focus Question’), and making sure people get something valuable from the talk (‘The Learning Question’). It’s a practical guide for managers to get the most out of coaching moments without it taking over their day.
His approach, backed by insights from neuroscience and behavioral economics, is about transforming everyday action.
‘The Coaching Habit’ is a great resource for those who want to learn the art of asking the right questions and witness the impact.
Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus
‘Coaching Questions’ by Tony Stoltzfus is one the best coaching books for any coach aspiring to master the art of inquiry.
Particularly for those new to the coaching field, this book introduces you to the concept of powerful questions, showing how they are key to being a good coach. It has tons of sample questions to ask and it helps you understand the depth you can achieve. From foundational techniques to advanced concepts like reframing challenges, this reference is a must for any coaching library.
Many beginner coaches read this book when they are not sure about how to go deeper by asking questions. It is also the book you will throw in the bin once you realise that the best question is in response to what you have just heard — a humbling reminder that sometimes the most profound insights come from simply listening and responding in the moment!
For those looking to cultivate a powerful questioning, ‘Coaching Questions’ is an essential read.
SIMPLIFYING COACHING: How to Have More Transformational Conversations by Doing Less by Claire Pedrick
Claire Pedrick’s ‘Simplifying Coaching’ is a compelling read for anyone looking to refine their coaching methods with an emphasis on simplicity and impact. The book advocates for a coaching approach that values clarity and focus, suggesting that we can bring more value by doing less. Pedrick invites coaches to embrace a minimalist approach, engaging in active listening and sharp observation to guide conversations more effectively.
The book outlines strategies that strip away the unnecessary complexities of coaching, highlighting the importance of being present and responding to what unfolds in the moment. Claire’s suggestions are practical and grounded, from the way you arrange the coaching space to the subtleties of your verbal and non-verbal communication.
The book serves both beginner and seasoned coaches who are looking to streamline their techniques and achieve deeper insights with their clients. It teaches coaches to get out of their own way. Beginner coaches will learn the basics of coaching, experienced coaches will appreciate more nuanced aspects. All will add something that will elevate their coaching. From the positioning of a chair to the cadence of your speech, every aspect is tailored to foster a collaborative environment and facilitate thinking in partnership.
This is not just a book for coaches; anyone engaged in meaningful dialogues can benefit from it. To embrace a coaching style that champions simplicity and effectiveness, consider adding ‘Simplifying Coaching’ to your reading list.
The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching: A Revolutionary Approach to Masterful Coaching by M. Franklin
‘The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching’ stands out for its depth and its ability to help a wide range of coaches, whether they’re just starting or aiming for the highest coaching qualifications.
Instead of giving coaches a predefined set of questions to ask, Franklin guides them to develop their own powerful questions. She explores 25 key themes that make navigating complex coaching situations simpler and more intuitive, helping coaches to better understand and address the issues their clients face.
Franklin skillfully uncovers the tactics that clients might use which can unintentionally block their own progress. The book equips coaches with the know-how to redirect these tactics towards more beneficial outcomes for the client.
A distinctive feature of the book is its interactive element, which simulates the experience of observing an expert coach at work through detailed examples of coaching sessions. This allows the reader to gain a deeper understanding of skilled coaching practices.
This book taught me to go to the heart of the matter quickly by narrowing the focus and going deep, not broad. It encouraged me to cut through the noise and engage in meaningful dialogue, making each session impactful.
If you want to deepen your coaching conversations, ‘The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching’ is for you!
Coach the Person, Not the Problem: A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry by M. Raynolds
Marcia Reynolds’ ‘Coach the Person, Not the Problem’ proposes a shift from the routine practice of asking open-ended questions to engaging in reflective inquiry. It’s an approach backed by the latest neuroscience, showing why mirroring clients’ own words can lead to profound self-awareness and ultimately, transformation.
This coaching book really champions a coaching method that’s all about the person, not just the problems they’re juggling. It explores five key practices to really get your coaching to click. You’ll learn how to keep the focus tight on the person you’re coaching, mirror what they’re saying, peel back the layers of what they believe, get clear on what they’re actually after, and help them discover and voice their big ‘aha’ moments.
The big takeaway? Our clients are way more than just their issues. They’re a mix of experiences and views, and our job is to really get that, to tune into the human side. That’s how we build not just a professional bond, but one that’s rich with understanding and empathy.
‘Coach the Person, Not the Problem’ teaches you to go to look for the person behind the challenge, which is essential to elevate your coaching to a level where clients feel truly heard, seen, and motivated to change.
Curious to get more coaching tips and insights?
Challenging Coaching: Going Beyond Traditional Coaching to Face the Facts by J. Blakey and I. Day
John Blakey and Ian Day’s ’Challenging Coaching’ is not your typical coaching book. It’s all about getting down to the nitty-gritty, the tough parts of coaching that really push people to level up.
They lay out the FACTS model: Feedback, Accountability, Courageous goals, Tension, and Systems thinking. It’s a no-nonsense blueprint for coaches who are ready to do more than just cheer from the sidelines—it’s for those who want to challenge their clients to truly grow.
This book taught me to lean more into the confronting style of coaching and push my client out of their comfort zone with courage and without breaking trust. It’s a testament to the power of coaching that pushes clients to confront their limitations head-on, while still being underpinned by the foundational trust and respect necessary for any coaching relationship.
Blakey and Day provide actionable advice through case studies and exercises that equip coaches to effectively implement this more direct and impactful coaching approach.
For those ready to embrace a bolder coaching stance that drives clients to courageous action and accountability, ‘Challenging Coaching’ is a significant read.
Coaching for Performance: The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership by J. Whitmore
John Whitmore’s ‘Coaching for Performance’ is widely recognized as a seminal work within the field of professional coaching. It introduces the GROW model — Goals, Reality, Options, Will—and has really shaped the way we think about coaching at work. It’s the go-to book for leaders and managers to learn how coaching can unleash a person’s potential and boost a company’s performance.
The latest edition of this book is packed with Whitmore’s expert insights and practical tips from Performance Consultants. It’s updated with new examples, hands-on exercises, and even digs into how to measure the impact of coaching. There’s a fresh chapter on the return on investment from coaching, connecting the dots between coaching skills and business outcomes.
If you’re all about building a strong coaching vibe in your place of work, one that can seriously shift how individuals and the whole organization roll, then ‘Coaching for Performance’ is your must-have. It’s not only about stepping up individual game — it’s about creating an environment where people are switched on and the workplace hums with energy and productivity.
The Prosperous Coach: Increase Income and Impact for You and Your Clients by S. Chandler and R. Litvin
‘The Prosperous Coach’ by Steve Chandler and Rich Litvin is an essential reading for coaches aiming to excel professionally and achieve financial success. It’s not your typical coaching guide; it’s a comprehensive strategy for developing a successful, referral-driven coaching business.
Chandler and Litvin push coaches to venture beyond conventional methods. They encourage a courageous approach to coaching, which involves tackling the more profound issues that are often not immediately visible. This strategy is presented as the cornerstone for attracting and maintaining high-value clients who are prepared to invest in high-quality coaching.
For coaches at any stage of their careers, this book is filled with practical advice. Beginners will find essential tips for building their client base, while veteran coaches will learn advanced tactics to polish their services and client interactions. By following the guidance in ‘The Prosperous Coach’, coaches are prompted to leverage their unique abilities to meet their clients’ needs, creating a reliable flow of referrals and new business opportunities.
Chandler and Litvin essentially offer a blueprint to join the elite in coaching, striving for excellence from clients and oneself alike. It’s a transformative work that aims to reshape not only one’s coaching approach but also the broader experience of being a coach.
Co-Active Coaching: The Proven Framework for Transformative Conversations at Work and in Life
‘Co-Active Coaching’ is an essential guide for leaders and professionals aiming to incorporate coaching into their work culture. The latest edition is updated with new coaching exercises and examples, reflecting the evolving landscape of workplace relationships and leadership development.
The book’s strength lies in its Co-Active Coaching model and the extensive online toolkit it offers, which includes over 35 practical resources. These tools are designed to help readers apply co-active principles to foster strong, collaborative relationships.
Straightforward and inspiring, this text is a go-to for anyone interested in creating an engaging, coaching-centric environment at work. It’s a practical read that encourages transformative communication and collaboration.
Effective Coaching: Lessons from the Coach’s Coach by M. Downey
‘Effective Coaching’ breaks down coaching into something really impactful. He believes that good coaching can create the perfect space for people and their workplaces to hit their stride and do their best. With tons of experience under his belt, Downey shares how to make coaching sessions all about helping the person being coached, who he calls the ‘player,’ to grow and take charge.
Downey’s got some neat tricks for keeping people hooked, like getting into what interests them, not being too pushy with advice, and helping them tune out those nagging doubts that hold them back. He’s all about that special connection between the coach and the player, and creating a place where people feel supported to figure things out and make choices they’re all in on.
The Coaching Manual: The Definitive Guide to the Process, Principles and Skills of Personal Coaching by J. Starr
‘The Coaching Manual’ by Julie Starr is like the ultimate guide for embarking on or already navigating the coaching journey. It’s packed with clear steps to take you from the first hello to wrapping up a coaching session successfully. This book has been a go-to for coaches all over the world, laying out everything you need to nail the coaching game.
Starr’s manual offers no-nonsense advice, super useful tips, and techniques that have been tried and tested. It’s all about getting you up to speed with the must-have skills and mindsets of a top-notch coach. You’ll get the hang of asking those insightful questions that get people thinking and planning things out so your clients can see results faster.
The book is particularly hands-on, tackling the tricky bits coaches run into and boosting your confidence to manage different kinds of coaching situations. For both beginner and seasoned coaches, Starr provides not just theory but clear, applicable guidance.