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Powerful leadership learning and current thinking on coaching

Welcome to our book reviews

Take a look at the books that have stood the test of time in leadership and coaching.  

You'll find reviews and author interview clips below.

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Bob Hughes, Forton Group CEO & Creator of the Leadership Book Club

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Book Reviews

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The Ovarian Chronicles, By Cat Williford

ovarian chroniclesA cautionary tale

reviewed by Helen Caton Hughes

When it comes to leadership and coaching, sex plays a role.  The Ovarian Chronicles is a unique book – so refreshingly different in style to the ‘man up, lean in and have some grit’ tone of many books written to help women fit into a man’s world. 

Cat Williford is a leader herself: a pioneer in the field of Coaching and Coach Training. She is a Transformational Self-Development Coach, Speaker, and Author.  Cat’s writing style is one that weaves a story full of spirituality and faith throughout the book, and even what some might call magic.  

Cat grew up a surgeon’s daughter, yet through her journey embraced Alternative Medicine in the search for answers.

This doesn’t make it any the less a book about leadership.  It embraces the reality of what it means to lead in your own life: especially when it’s your life on the line.

This book is required reading, if you manage or coach women, or are a woman leader yourself. 

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Clueless: coaching people who just don’t get it Mashiri & Nowack; Envisia Learning (2nd ed); 2013

Okay: so the title really drew me to this book; it’s eye-catching and challenging, and I went for it! Actually, there’s another reason: I’m keen to improve my own coaching practice and am a sponge for new approaches and ideas that will help me to provide even better service to clients. About the title, more later!

I’m really pleased that I picked this book up. It is easy to navigate, has a very readable style and – unquestionably – has lasting value. Organised in 4 parts, the reader is led through a simple coaching framework devised and practised by the authors: the framework appears, helpfully, on page 1, and it contains three elements – Enlighten, Encourage and Enable – which are succinctly summarised in the first 7 pages. Thereafter, by way of further introduction, coaching in the context of behavioural change is explained.

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554 Hits

Female Entrepreneurs: the secrets of their success

Female Entrepreneurs: the secrets of their success

by John Smythe and Ruth Saunders

female entrepreneurs


Firstly - full disclsoure - I was a participant in the development of this book and was interviewed - as an entrepreneur myself.  Which takes us to the first challenge for women leaders and entrepreneurs - how comfortable are we with these labels?  It's one of the many questions the authors address in their analysis of 52 interviews with women entrepreneurs across a huge age range - from 10 to 60+.  It seems that being proud of one's achievements as a woman in business, and inspiring the team to feel good, is one of John and Ruth's "Top Ten Tips" for female entrepreneurs.

Secondly - the challenge.  Why is a book of this kind still needed? 

There are two sides to the venture capital issue - around which the entrepreneurial world orbits -

  • The first is access to venture capital by all-female teams (that's 1% of available capital) and 9% to businesses with at least one female founder.  91% of available capital goes to businesses with all male founders.
  • The second is that the make-up of those (UK) investment teams are low on women - only 13% of senior people in those teams are women and nearly half (48%) of investment teams have no women at all. 

As is so often the case with the world of women in business, the authors acknowledge each other in this ground-breaking field and Caroline Criado-Perez's work is duly acknowledged as a ground breaker in this field (see 'Invisible Women').  Because the insights we need to support, inspire and - most importantly - enable women entrepreneurs to succeed are now becoming clear - what Forton is doing is building a reading list of some useful books in this field.

However, let's focus back on this book.

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588 Hits

Book review: The Joy of work: Bruce Daisley (Penguin-Random House; 2020)

The Joy of Work


The author of this new and very readable book has a career history that includes senior roles at Google / You Tube and Twitter in EMEA. The premise of this book is simple: we can make work far more accessible and rewarding by adopting a number of simple and easily-implemented techniques.

Which is great and begs the question: if they are so easy, why are all organisations not adopting them, wholesale? After all, making work accessible and rewarding is the holy grail in organisational development and employee engagement circles. There may be many answers to this, but the obvious one is linked to 2 things – corporate culture and the absence of a willingness to try and stick with simple organisational approaches that focus more on individual and team productivity and less on traditional processes.

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910 Hits

Designing the Purposeful World: Clive Wilson, Routledge; 2018

Designing the Purposeful World

I have to declare an interest in this book upfront: the author is a colleague of mine. I’ll leave it for you to decide whether this strengthens or weakens the review you’re about to read!

Wilson’s second book focusses on a topic that is clearly a passion for him: how can we all unite to make the world a better place to be? This may sound rather esoteric, but the thesis is grounded in a number of pretty straightforward and sincere approaches that are quickly developed in the book. For example, Wilson introduces the book with an assertion that all of his audiences – whether they be young or old, professional or blue-collar and European, American or of another culture – have arrived at the same conclusions about how they see the future of the world. And these conclusions are remarkably similar to those of the United Nations with their sustainable development goals (see more about the SDG here - www.sustainabledevelopment.un.org).

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878 Hits