Executive Coaching Books

Books Mike is Reading

You can learn a lot about a person if you know what they're reading. Here’s a list of books that have influenced how I coach and how I lead my groups.

Heroic Leadership by Chris Lowney: This book is not for everyone. An investment banker who had studied to become a Jesuit priest wrote it. My favorite quote from the book applies to my role as an executive coach: “(A coach) encourages people to aim high and keeps them restlessly pointed toward something more, something greater. No ‘commonplace achievement’ should satisfy our ambition to excel.”

The Five Temptations of a CEO by Patrick Lencioni: I make this book required reading for every one of my new coaching clients. I find that most leaders struggle with more than one of Lencioni’s five temptations and their usually oblivious to the impact of Temptations #1 and #5.

Inspirational Leadership – Henry V and the Muse of Fire by Richard Olivier: I met the author in 2003. I love sharing the lessons leaders can learn as Prince Hal morphs into King Henry. Olivier calls the coach’s role that of a “brother-mentor.” I’m especially fond of the quote from Henry IV on the importance of a coach, when young Prince Hal says to his Lord Chief Justice “My voice shall sound as you do prompt my ear…to your well-practiced wise directions.” What executive coach wouldn’t love to be told that?

What Got You Here Won’t Get You There by Marshall Goldsmith: I wasn’t impressed by this book the first time I read it; the second read changed my opinion. Goldsmith has influenced how I organize my executive coaching gigs and his “20 Habits that Hold You Back” is something I discuss with every coaching client and the members of my groups as well.

The Coaching Kaleidoscope – Insights from the Inside by Kets de Vries et al: This book is from the team at the Global Leadership Centre at INSEAD, the business school at Fontainebleau in France. It has influenced how I conduct my leadership groups and executive coaching sessions more than any other.

The War of Art by Steven Pressfield: When Pressfield wrote this book, he didn’t know he was writing a book about leadership. I think it can be a game changer. I own the paperback version, the e-book and the CD.