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Non-Fiction Review: Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others by James Flaherty

I've recently read through (most of) James Flaherty's Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others. This book is very information and excellent in the way that it directly challenges the status quo of people management in the modern corporate environment. I think of all the companies I've worked in or with over the years, and every single one would have benefited significantly from Flaherty's guidance.

Instead of going into a lot of detail about the book, allow me to just recommend it to you. I'm doing this because my next post will be my thoughts on applying the coaching approach and mentality to improving information security within organizations, which will cover much of the material in the book. However, rather than leave you empty-handed, allow me to provide a quote from early in the book in which Flaherty states his case for this approach:

"It is one of the central tenets of this book that command-and-control organizations cannot bring about the conditions and competencies necessary to successfully meet the challenges holistically. For the most part, organizations know this and have attempted to reorganize themselves using the principles of total quality management and reengineering. The usual problem with these interventions is that they are implemented by and end up reinforcing the command-and-control structure. Here's my objection to that: command-and-control organizations are based on the premise that a power and knowledge hierarchy is the most effective way of structuring an organization. People at the top make the decisions and people further down implement those decisions, changing them as little as possible. The process is slow, expensive, and has at its core belief that people cannot be trusted and must be closely monitored. As long as those beliefs are in place any organization will have tremendous difficulty flourishing in today's world. Of course, what I'm saying here is not a new statement. What I'm offering in this book is an alternative to working in a command-and-control environment by beginning with the new premises. It's been my experience that organizations must be dedicated to allowing people to be both effective and fulfilled. Organizations are the ongoing creations of the people who work in them. Treating organizations as if they are huge machines, as is done with command and control, badly misunderstands the nature of the phenomenon. To sum up and simplify what I'm saying, coaching is a way of working with people that leaves them more competent and more fulfilled so that they are more able to contribute to their organizations and find meaning in what they are doing. I hope that reading this book will convince you that this is possible and that you will experiment with the ideas presented here. That is the only way you can find out for yourself that what I'm saying here is worthwhile." (p2-3)


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As noted earlier, I've recently read James Flaherty's excellent book Coaching: Evoking Excellence in Others. My original purpose in reading this book was to help generate content for an internal training course I'm developing on savvy skills for consul... [Read More]

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