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What A Great Coach Reads: Michael Bungay Stanier’s Favorite Books

Coaching guru Michael Bungay Stanier shares a list of books that have had a major impact on his life and career.
by Natallia Darozhkina | Nov 30 2017

The best coaches and people managers are those who have a broad range of experiences and interests, coupled with a deep understanding of what makes people tick. Michael Bungay Stanier is one of those people. We asked the coaching expert and bestselling author to share a list of books that influenced him and that he feels can help others become successful leaders and communicators.

In this book list, you’ll find some foundational books on the major existential questions of life, as well as some comprehensive, practical books about corporate culture, communication, and body language.

Michael Bungay Stanier’s Book Recommendations

1. Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help by Edgar H. Schein

In this book on helping, corporate culture, and organizational development, Edgar Schein analyzes the dynamics of helping relationships, explains why not all help is helpful, and shows what any would-be helper must do to ensure that they’re actually lending a hand.

2. Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling by Edgar H. Schein

Humble Inquiry sets out basic principles for the art of asking the right questions in the right way. It examines how your approach to inquiry affects your relationships at the office, your ability to get quality work completed and, ultimately, your success as a leader.

Michael says:

Helping and Humble Inquiry […] cast great light on why it’s so hard to help people and how to think about being helpful in a way that serves them rather than just serves you.”

3. Give and Take: A Revolutionary Approach to Success by Adam Grant

Give and Take offers a breath of fresh air to traditional theories of what it takes to be successful. Backed by groundbreaking research, Give and Take demonstrates how giving more to others, rather than competing against them, may be the secret to profound success and fulfillment.

Michael says:

“I think Adam Grant‘s book Give and Take is really interesting, because it gives you a way of understanding how to show up and be generous in the world, in a way that nourishes you rather than diminishes you.”

3. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson

A Short History of Nearly Everything offers an enlightening summary of contemporary scientific thinking related to all aspects of life, from the creation of the universe to our relationship with the tiniest of bacteria.

Michael says:

“The books that have influenced me include Bill Bryson‘s book called A Short History of Nearly Everything which is really kind of making science cool, and accessible, and amazing. And for me the impact is going, ‘It is amazing. It’s a miracle that I am alive on this planet at this time. So make the most of it’.”

Simplify Extra Credit Reading

Based on the Simplify episode with Michael Bungay Stanier we created a book list that you can read (or listen to!) on Blinkist in 15 minutes or fewer.

1. The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help—or Hurt—How You Lead
by Carol Kinsey Gorman

Strong leaders have to project the right body language and be able to read it well in their team members if they want to lead them to success. The Silent Language of Leaders offers tips for reading and controlling body language, even in cultures where social cues differ.

2. The Coaching Habit: Say Less, Ask More & Change the Way You Lead Forever by Michael Bungay Stanier

The Coaching Habit breaks down the elements of coaching and explains how to coach effectively. Contrary to what you might think, coaching isn’t about giving advice but instead about guiding employees to find their way to success. These blinks show how you too can become a great coach.

2. What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful by Marshall Goldsmith

Your people skills become increasingly important the further you climb up the ladder of success. What Got You Here, Won’t Get You There describes some of the bad habits that commonly hold back successful people and explains how to change them.

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