Reviews of Coaching Presence

Reviews of Coaching Presence

Coaching Presence book cover

12 May 2022

We recently read Coaching Presence: Understanding the Power of Non-verbal Relationship by Tünde Erdös in the EMCC UK Book Club. Caroline Thompson and Mike Conway write below with their thoughts and responses to the book.

‘Coaching Presence provides endless opportunities to learn as its style plants questions around every corner’
Review by Caroline Thompson

Tünde Erdös aims to define coaching presence, and in her pursuit of this provides prompts for the individual to reflect on their coaching journey. She does this through a mix of case studies to bring her research to life, as well as balancing the book with soft and hard research.

Although the title, Coaching Presence, leads you to believe the book is aimed at coaches, it would benefit anyone looking to understand how we interact as humans through non verbal signals, which at times can result in synchronicity.

My favourite part of the book was chapter 3. I loved the concept of synchrony, which was beautifully explained through the synchrony of pendulum clocks through to the two tenets for coaching: ‘my body doesn’t lie’ and ‘synchrony involves reciprocity’. The metaphors, explanations, research and models drove home the importance of coaching presence and how powerful it can be to enable the client. This was done in such a beautiful way that the points resonated with me as a coach, but also in my role as head of learning and development. The self-regulation topic piqued my interest and resulted in me wanting to experiment. Additionally I also really enjoyed chapter 10, ‘Faceting leadership – the focus of integrative presence’.

Currently, I am building and delivering a management development programme, this chapter has not got me curious about leadership presence and I will look at how I can explore this within the programme. The reflective practise for faceting your leadership presence across four spheres will be invaluable both for my programme but also for any leader wanting to develop their ability to navigate VUCA environments.

As is often the way with reading a business book, rather than fiction, it can take a while to start connecting with the narrative and crave more. However, as a knowledge hungry coach, I found that the storytelling through case studies, the intro to each chapter, the signposted findings at a glance, and the neatly laid out conclusion gave each chapter a start, middle and end, so that I found the flow in each individual chapter, rather than across the book as a whole.

I initially started at chapter one, then found myself jumping back and forth across the book based on where my interest pulled me. If, like me, you always have great intentions to read a book cover to cover, this book allows you to explore based on your initial curiosity, which then results in you wanting to delve further.

Coaching Presence provides endless opportunities to learn as its style plants questions around every corner, which gets you to think about the key points being made, as well as by default reflect on your competence in being present for the client.

I now understand that presence is a key component in enabling a client to explore their journey, and that a coach needs to constantly focus on this while at the same time not letting it get in the way of the coaching! I am now keen to hone my skills in this area, and consider myself at the very start of this journey, but eager nonetheless.

The book has re-triggered my passion for enhancing my coaching practise and experimenting with the concepts. Additionally it has reignited my hunger for developing my coaching skills through learning, and I am energised to get started!

‘This book has opened up a whole new area of development for me’
Review by Mike Conway

Coaching Presence aims to explore the importance of coaching presence in coaching, in particular the non-verbal synchronicity between coach and client, providing supportive empirical evidence. It not only achieves its objectives fully, but also outlines fruitful areas for further exploration.

It is aimed at all coaches, from novice to master. There is something here for everyone, given that this is the first time results from empirical research using motion energy analysis software is available.

Erdös has made me reflect on the gaps in my coach training and development. It has made me want to learn more about this topic. The book focuses on integrative presence, pulling together a range of disciplines, sciences, and models, many of which are new or generally unfamiliar to me, piquing my curiosity to delve more deeply into the reference section for further reading.

Some books flow over you like light mist and can be read easily in a single session. This is definitely not one of those! It is a tropical downpour, not an easy read. I mean that in a complimentary way. It is rich with ideas, hypotheses, and wide-ranging material from many other great thinkers and practitioners. It benefits from reading, thinking, and reflecting in small chunks, and then from re-reading. It reveals its depth and breadth by degrees. It challenges the reader with reflective questions. This is a book I will go back to again and again, knowing that my understanding and application to my own practice will increase each time.

The reader has the reassurance that the book derives from formal academic research and discipline and is therefore well-researched and referenced. It is, however, also interspersed with popular culture, myth and parable, as well as illuminating case studies which bring the book to life.

I was particularly pleased with the logical structure of the book. Part 1 establishes presence as possibly the key competence to be mastered, the foundation stone on which to build progress. Part 2 explores the ‘so, what next?’ of how to apply the theory in practice. I have never seen an example of Part 3 in any other empirical research: the experiences and reflections of the researcher and the research participants. This section adds colour to the previous parts. Part 4 looks at the implications of integrative presence for coaching training and leadership development.

In all of these parts, Tünde follows the well-established learning format of ‘tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, tell them what you have told them’, which provides a very useful structure and summary format for the reader.

Coaching Presence has presented me with several challenges that I am still processing, but two key challenges in particular. Am I asking powerful questions to be a powerful coach – that is, to meet my needs rather than those of my clients? How well have I adopted my coach training of professional detachment rather than professional proximity which integrative presence requires, and therefore how well do I really understand my clients’ needs?

Quite fundamentally, I am reviewing my whole approach to coaching. This book has opened up a whole new area of development for me, and I am very grateful to the author.

Coaching Presence – click for all our Book Club resources for this book