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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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Zen and the Art of Making a Living: A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design: Lawrence G Boldt (Penguin-Arkana, 1999 revised edition)

Zen And the Art of Making a Living A Practical Guide to Creative Career Design Laurence Boldt


Choosing to review a book like “Zen and the Art of Making a Living” is an act of bravery, if not bravado: it is such a Big Book in every sense. I hope, therefore, that I can capture just a little of its essence in this c.900 word review without diminishing its value and gravitas.

In a world where sound-bites and wikis cater for our every information need, why would anyone want to read a large, challenging and discomfort-inducing tome (this last adjective refers to the disquiet that comes from having the basic tenets of modern life challenged)? – the answer is that this book makes you think; will make you feel slightly uncomfortable and will probably change your perspective on the world (of work particularly, if not the whole entity).

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  210 Hits
210 Hits

Strategic Talent Development: Janice Caplan (Kogan Page, 2013)

Strategic Talent Development Develop and Engage All Your People for Business Success Paperback Janice Caplan

Books on talent and people development are – for me – always likely to please, simply because of the importance of the subject. We should all be interested in personal development, shouldn’t we?!

This book is therefore the latest in a large number that tackles this subject. In truth, although talent is very much at its heart - as you'd expect from the title! - I think this is really a useful guide around the topics of organisational development and the management of change. Given that, it is practical and grounded in delivery; in the pursuit of excellent HR practice; even if it does not particularly say anything new.

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  232 Hits
232 Hits

The 31 practices - release the power of your organization's VALUES everyday: Alan Williams & Alison Whybrow (LID publishing, 2013)

The 31 practices release the power of your organizations VALUES everyday Alan Williams


This book has credibility, intrigue and is a window on the world we live in. This much we learn from the opening dedication - "we dedicate this book to the alchemy of relationships, curiosity and serendipity" - and the fact that the Forward is written by Richard Barrett. Indeed, it is Barrett who describes the text as an "encyclopaedia of understanding about what it takes to build the neural pathways of an organisation."

At the heart of its 31 chapters, the book is essentially about authenticity; about the shift from product-based reputation to service- and people-centric reputation ... as a former consumer-goods marketer and now occupational behaviourist, this is core-reading for me! And, it is about the 'how' of what we do at work, in support of all the normal goal-setting and performance-management tools and techniques already embedded in the organisation.

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  190 Hits
190 Hits

“Turn the ship Around!” – David Marquet (Portfolio / Penguin, 2012)

Turn The Ship Around A True Story of Building Leaders by Breaking the Rules David Marquet


The theme of this book is the change in leadership approach introduced by a Retired US Submarine Captain in order to get away from the blind obedience that results from a highly-directive leadership style, typical of the armed forces. His experience turned a poor-performing unit into a leading performer measured by a number of relevant indicators.

The key message of the book is that “Leadership should mean giving control rather than taking control, and creating leaders rather than forging followers”. This is the author’s essential tenet, and it is something he terms ‘the leader-leader model’.

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  231 Hits
231 Hits

Leading Teams: Paolo Guenzi & Dino Ruta (Jossey-Bass, 2013)

Leading Teams Tools and Techniques for Successful Team Leadership from the Sports World Paulo Guenzi

This 330-page book has an easy-read style and will be of interest to anyone with sporting inclinations. Its sub-title, “Tools and techniques for successful team leadership from the sports world”, describes accurately its theme and content. From the off, it establishes a direct link between the two worlds, of business and sport. Sensibly, its first chapter points out the key differences between the two and offers words of caution about making too strong a link. After all, the make-up and operations of teams in business differ widely from those in the sporting context. It also highlights the fundamental difference in the way that the two sectors define and measure success.

So, this approach raises a couple of questions: (i) isn’t sport a sub-set of the larger world of commerce and business? And, (ii) isn’t it dangerous to generalise too far about the business of sport, given the vast differences in sporting commercial success? Both questions are valid and not really covered in this book. Indeed, as the reader progresses, it is clear that the real focus is on how sports coaches manage their teams, and the commercial outcomes are largely ignored after the opening chapter of caveats.

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  256 Hits
256 Hits

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