Reviews of The Transformational Coach

Reviews of The Transformational Coach

The Transformational Coach

30 May 2023

We recently read The Transformational Coach by Clare Norman, in the EMCC UK Conversations with Authors series. Donna Ward-Higgs, Claire Caine and Joanne Gray write below with their thoughts and responses to the book.

‘I felt really connected to the work Clare has put into further professionalising coaching practice’
Review by Donna Ward-Higgs

The Transformational Coach is a wonderfully written guide through 83 potential mindset shifts we may need to consider if we want to develop our coaching practice to support our clients to achieve their best possible results. Clare Norman has used her knowledge and experience as a coach-mentor for ICF to pull together the most common themes in limiting beliefs displayed by coaches, and explored how they may be detrimental to our coaching practice. The book is structured to explore the shifts through the lens of when they were most likely developed, and I related well to identifying what may have been ingrained through the narrative of our parents, teachers, managers, coach training and our own coaching experiences.

I really liked the structure, plain language and clear explanation offered throughout the book. The author references back to the PCC markers to anchor her explanations back to effective coaching practice as well as making links to other relevant shifts throughout the book. This approach made me feel like I was reading something that would practically support my development, although I did at times get confused and wonder whether they may be room in future editions to have a visual map of the links and cross over across the book to make this more digestible.

The book is written in such a way that you can dip in and out to use its wisdom in a myriad of ways; whether that is noticing something in particular has come up for you and diving straight into that particular section, through to randomly selecting a page and using that shift as the basis of reflective practice. There is a real flexibility and accessibility to the text.

Reading this book and subsequently talking to the author about her intentions, learnings, challenges and next steps, I felt really connected to the work Clare has put into further professionalising coaching practice. The call to action, the challenge of holding up a mirror to our own practice, and the practical and referenced connections outlined come together in a way that supports and facilitates continuous professional development. I can definitely see this book being added to recommended and required reading lists for coach training.

‘A challenge to coaches to consider how their life experiences from childhood onwards can influence and hold back the growth of the coach’
Review by Claire Caine

The Transformational Coach provides an excellent challenge to coaches old and new to unlearn old ways of thinking, encouraging the application of new approaches and mindsets. Applying these new mindsets moves the coaching from being transactional and into a transformational experience. The book builds on the thinking of Nancy Kline and Claire Pedrick and is aimed at providing gentle but constructive challenge to coaches to consider how their life experiences from childhood onwards can influence and hold back the growth of the coach, and the experience of the coachee.

The book is shaped into various sections and reflects on 83 ‘old mindsets’ or behavioural patterns that have been shaped by parents, teachers, peers, the working environment, bosses, coach training and lastly, the experience of being coached. Of the 83 mindsets, I realised that there were a number that I had already tackled as part of my own coaching journey. This was a realisation of how much work I had done already. But there were also a fair number of areas that are very much still work in progress.  I particularly liked the reminders to not be a ‘fixer’ but a ‘resourcer’, to match for rapport and mismatch for change, and lastly to continue to develop and trust intuition.

One mindset that I found particularly curious was the suggestion to be more challenging and to interrupt the thinker. The rationale is that at times the thinker can enter storytelling mode.  Clare Norman describes storytelling as something they know already. Our role as coaches is to ‘get them to new thinking, not to go over old ground’.  I understand the rationale, but have found this quite challenging to implement. There is more here for me to work on!

I have found this book hugely practical and full of new learning. I have gained new insight into specific mindsets and behaviours that I will develop further to improve my coaching practice. The book has also challenged me to consider how I react as a parent, friend, peer and leader, demonstrating that this book would benefit a wide range of audiences, not just coaches. The simplicity of the writing encourages practical application of the new mindsets. It is an excellent tool to support regular growth and reflection. I have committed to picking a few mindsets as an aide memoire after coaching sessions, to facilitate reflection.

‘If we want bigger and better transformational results, we need to start by challenging the beliefs that inform our behaviour’
Review by Joanne Gray

The Transformational Coach encourages us to be prepared to unlearn old belief systems and habits. It suggests that if we want bigger and better transformational results, we need to start by challenging the beliefs that inform our behaviour, rather than tinkering around the edges with behaviour modifications. The book is arranged by highlighting seven different mindsets (chapters) that we’ve learnt throughout our lives, through interactions and socialisation from parents and carers, school, peers, work and personal development. It reminds us how some of these influences might seep into our coaching practice, yet may not be helpful for us, thereby suggesting an opportunity for a mindset shift.

Clare Norman offers 83 mindset shifts, with each shift providing an overview of how the old mindset pattern might show up and why it might be problematic. There are suggestions and guidance for how to transform to the new mindset. At the end of each theme is a retrieval section and a habit-changing pledge, which is useful for reflecting on what you’ve identified with, and creates a sense of accountability.

The ‘aha!’ moment for me was discovered early on in the book, with words that really resonated: ‘The harder the coach works, the less hard the thinker will think... Nobody ever promised being coached would be easy – it isn’t.’ I drew a connection between mindsets developed as a child and at work, particularly the ‘always try your hardest’ (shift 3), ‘don’t be selfish’ (shift 13), and ‘behaving like a service provider’ (shift 38), all of which can lead a coaching relationship into unhealthy levels of dependency.