Saturday 27 January 2018

What am I reading?

You know that feeling when you really ought to write a blog post (target: one a week; last one a fortnight ago…) and you have no ideas whatsoever?... it happens to all of us, of course…

And then I thought it might conceivably be of some interest to someone, somewhere, to know what I am currently reading (by way of CPD, I mean, not the Damon Runyon short stories that I am reading for pleasure at the moment, admirably entertaining though they undoubtedly are).

So here goes. I am in the middle of two books at present. The first is Richard Olivier’s Inspirational Leadership: Timeless Lessons for Leaders from Shakespeare's Henry V.

I love the idea of this, and I imagine that the workshops that he runs, using Shakespeare’s text as a stimulus, are exciting and provoke real insight. But somehow there is a difference between that and Olivier taking us through the lessons of each Act.  All worthy stuff, but it just feels a bit platitudinous: ‘Be ready to confront your traitors, internal as well as external.’ That kind of stuff.  I can well believe that when one is working on the text, and suddenly sees the parallels between Richard’s situation and treachery of Cambridge, say, and one’s own experience with the head of another department, it is a valuable revelation. But to have the lesson spelt out in the abstract doesn’t quite cut it.

I bought the book with high expectations, as I really love the concept, but I have to say I am reading it slowly and without either huge enjoyment or huge learning.

The other book I am immersed in at the moment is Challenging Coaching, by Blakey and Day. Again, I like the idea – moving beyond empathy, rapport and listening, important as those are, and the rather simplistic GROW model so beloved of those who train coaches…

This time, however, I am not disappointed. I think that Blakey and Day are really onto something, even though I think there is a certain naivety and over-simplification in their critique of what they see as normal coaching heretofore. The idea that contracting is important, for example, doesn’t seem to be a new discovery…

The heart of the book is based on the acronym FACTS, which stands for Feedback, Accountability, Challenging goals, Tension, and Systems Thinking; and although I haven’t read the detailed chapters on each of these, yet, the acronym alone has provoked some interesting thoughts and indeed experiments in my coaching practice.

I expect to write more about this one, once I have finished it (not least because I have committed to run a session on it for Cumbria Coaching Network in a few months, so need to think further and experiment with it in real life, so that I have some basis for the workshop!)

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