Plane trips are a great opportunity to catch up on reading! For my current travels, I took with me a number of books I’d been trying to get round to reading and, unusually, I’m able to recommend all of them. The first is by Bob Garvey, now a professor at York Business School. In a wide-ranging review of the origins and practice of coaching and mentoring, he provides the most substantive and thoughtful history of coaching and mentoring to date. He also tilts at many of the myths and unproven assumptions surrounding both coaching and mentoring, in an exploration of, for example, Socratic dialogue (is that what coaching or mentoring is really about?), and the dangers of linking coaching and mentoring too closely with rigid competency models. He points out that coaching research tends to emphasize performance issues, while mentoring research focuses more frequently on learning. Overall, this thought-provoking book is a plea for more informed, intelligent dialogue on the topic.

The second book is the latest edition of Julie Starr’s basic book for line manager coaches. Full of useful snippets and short sections on essential topics, such as how coaches can manage their ego, it also includes valuable tables drawing out the difference in mindset and behaviour between directive managers and coaching managers.

The third book is from Denmark. Tom Pedersen has managed mentoring programs that have helped 7,000 young people from impoverished and/or uneducated immigrant integrate into Danish society. This is mentoring at the more directive end of the spectrum, but with all the caring and nurturing that characterizes effective mentoring in other contexts. Particularly interesting is his description of competencies the mentees need to transition out of lives that may have hitherto included drug addiction, crime and learned helplessness – and the templates he provides for measuring progress towards those competences.

Finally, Penny Abbott and Kathy Bennett’s A Guide for Coachees emphasizes that coaching is a two way relationship. It provides practical guidance for coaches in taking responsibility for and getting the most value from coaching.


Abbott, P & Bennett, K (2011) A guide for coaches, KnowRes, Johannesburg

Garvey, B (2011) A very short, fairly interesting and reasonably cheap book about coaching and mentoring, Sage, London

Pedersen, TT (2012) How to be a mentor for disadvantaged and marginalized people MEN2R Publishing, Ulstrup

Starr, J (2012) Brilliant Coaching (2nd Ed), Pearson, Harlow

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