Dianne Stober & Anthony Grant, eds.
John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 416 pgs.
When a book has a title like Evidence Based Coaching Handbook a common reaction is “dense, research, academic. Ugh!” It is true that this book comes from two
academics; Stober is from Fielding Graduate Institute and Grant is from the University of Sydney. It is also true that this is a well-researched book complete with references
and a comprehensive bibliography, so it is academic in the best sense of the word. The surprise is that it is decidedly practical and an interesting read.
Stober and Grant begin the book with in-depth case studies of two business coaching clients. From there, the book unfolds with articles by international experts from a
wide range of theoretical groundings. Each author translates their theory to coaching practice, and then applies the theory to the two case studies.
The articles are divided into two parts. The first part consists of single theory perspectives and includes humanistic, behavioral, adult developmental, cognitive and
psychoanalytic theories. In each article, the author makes a case for the relevance of the theory to coaching.
Part Two contains integrative and cross-theory
approaches to coaching. It includes chapters on goal focused coaching, adult learning approaches, positive psychology, cultural perspectives, an adventure based
framework, and a systems view. I only intended to skim a few of these chapters, but found myself engaged and I read the full articles.
Aside from the solid content, the most compelling feature
of this book is the case study approach. I found myself challenged to take one of my own clients and ask how I would approach the coaching engagement based on each
of the theories presented. This is an eye-opening experience in terms of revealing the variety of valid approaches, what gets missed in any one approach, and
what constitutes the wisest approach in any client situation.
The book leans heavily on psychological theories for coaching. In my view there are important theoretical
contributions that organizational development theories have to contribute that are missing. Still, given that there is not yet an agreed upon theory base for coaching, this
book goes a long ways in deepening the conversation.
Evidence Based Coaching would be a terrific foundation for a coaching study group. I encourage you to add it to
your coaching book shelf.