The Psychology of Executive Coaching: Theory and Application
Who should read this book:
This book is specifically targeted at therapists seeking to expand their careers into business and executive coaching. Equally, executive coaches wishing to strengthen or refresh their understanding of appropriate psychological approaches will find the book a useful resource.
Summary of content:
The second edition of The Psychology of Executive Coaching builds upon a classic text in the field of coaching psychology rendering it a necessary purchase for all executive coaches. The book is updated throughout and offers four new and timely chapters. Once again, it brings together the profession of executive coaching and the field of psychology in way that is useful for practitioners.
The introduction is written specifically for mental health practitioners and is not particularly recommended to anyone else. Chapter 1 covers psychological assessment and psychometrics. According to Peltier, "most executive coaches fly by the seat of their pants when it comes to assessment" (5). Chapter 2 (one of the new chapters) usefully covers developmental psychology with references to Freud, Jung, Piaget and Erikson. Chapter 3 focuses on the psychodynamic view and offers the executive coach a useful summary of defence mechanisms. Chapter 4 considers behavioural concepts with reference to Pavlov, Watson, Skinner and Bandura. Functional analysis is discussed in this chapter. Alan Hedman writes on the Carl Rogers' person-centred approach in Chapter 5. Cognitive psychology and systems thinking feature in Chapters 6 and 7. Chapter 8 offers an outstanding and brief summary of the existential stance in way that is helpful for coaches. Social psychology is covered in Chapter 9. The next chapter on hypnotic communication is vague and unhelpful, concluding with the statement "the point is that there are many ways to skin a cat..." (207). Chapter 11 (another of the new chapters) provides a valuable and insightful evaluation of Emotional Intelligence, and in itself a very good reason to purchase this book. Chapter 12 gives us an overview of some "themes" that come out of the athletic coaching literature as well as some useful "nuggets" for executive coaches. Chapter 13 has a topical focus on "coaching women" with useful insights and discussion about "glass ceilings" and "glass walls" along with some powerful statistics about women in business. Chapter 14 (another of the new chapters for this edition) considers psychopathology so that coaches can notice when a pathology is present. According to Peltier, there is sometimes a "temptation to ignore a problem, to politely sidestep it, or to minimize it" and he believes that "coaches can potentially add enormous value by responding courageously and appropriately when pathology emerges" (305). Another of the new chapters (Chapter 15) focuses on leadership and complements Chapter 16, "Workers, Managers, and Leaders". Whilst they are both helpful, there is, obviously, too much material to be able to cover them adequately in two chapters. Chapter 17 treats the issue of ethics in coaching. The final chapter, like the first, is written specifically for therapists wishing to "make the transition."
Peltier states that this is "not a handbook or how-to-coach book", preferring to describe it as one that focuses on psychological theory which provides "a conceptual foundation for the organizational coach" (xv). Unflatteringly, he states that "this book puts old wine into new bottles, so that more can appreciate the vintage" (xxviii). However, it is certainly a valuable reference book for therapists and practising coaches alike. It is especially useful because it is possible to go straight to a particular chapter and remind oneself of a specific theory or approach. In this way, it complements the Handbook of Coaching Psychology (Palmer and Whybrow, 2007). They are surprisingly similar in style and both works should feature on an executive coach's bookshelf.