Transform Your Thinking, Transform Your Coaching PracticeDec 28, 2023
A Book Review of The Transformational Coach: Free Your Thinking and Break Through to Coaching Mastery by Clare Norman
Implicit biases, limiting perceptions, fixed mindsets – we all have them. So, how do you, as a coach, look within to grow and overcome them? Whether you’re a coach in training or firmly established in your coaching profession, how do you continue to enhance your coaching skills?
In Clare Norman’s book, The Transformational Coach: Free Your Thinking and Break Through to Coaching Mastery, she shares her expertise through powerful thinking and practical tools to help coaches on their journey to “break through to coaching mastery.”
I’d like to invite you to pause for a moment and ask yourself these two questions. One, how do you define coaching mastery? And two, what are the attributes of a coach who demonstrates mastery?
According to the International Coaching Federation, their highest level of certification is to become a Master Certified Coach (MCC), a process that requires 2500 paid coaching hours to complete coach certification, 200 hours of coach-specific education, and demonstration of specific skill requirements. At the MCC level of coaching, a coach exhibits “a genuine interest and curiosity in and support for the client as a whole person—beyond the client’s situation or immediate goals—and should support the client in reflecting on their learning and discovery about themselves at a holistic level.”
While this may sound simple and straightforward, the journey coaches undertake from their beginnings, straight out of training to achieving mastery are uncharted, each coach taking a different path to get there. The opportunities, mentors, and communities coaches are part of vary – and the rate at which we progress, just like anything else, is also influenced by our access to support and guidance, which is not always so easy to find.
One of the reasons I enjoyed this book and found it a source of guidance is that through her writing and by sharing her voice, Norman establishes trust with the reader in a similar way that coaches build trust with their clients.
In coaching, I sometimes wonder how much of my personal life to share. In this book, Norman shares where her mindsets came from, allowing a glimpse into her upbringing and the actions that shaped her beliefs – which many of us can relate to. By learning where the mindsets come from for Clare, we can reflect and see where they come from for ourselves. Subsequently, this book guides us to refine our questions and coaching techniques so we can more effectively guide our clients to reflect on where their mindsets are coming from, enhancing their self-awareness and self-empowerment – the approach is full circle. Clare is able to translate her experience as a mentor and supervisor coach to provide in-depth advice for those seeking it.
Based on her own observations, this book captures mindsets and shifts in mindsets that can’t come from a research paper or a textbook – they can only come from human experience. Readers reap the benefits of all Norman’s years of coaching and incorporate the concepts of these mindsets into their own coaching and learning.
As a coach, I personally seek mentoring from coaches who have been in the field for years. Mentoring is where experience and subject matter expertise makes a difference. It is rare to find someone who is able to isolate their own biases and focus on objectively enhancing the an individual's ability to perform as a coach, by measuring their performance against competencies from credentialing bodies. This is a skill that only comes from experience.
In fact, the ICF even has rules as to who can be a mentor coach and outlines their Mentor Coaching Duties and Competencies.
Coming from medicine, where clinical experience derives not only from knowledge but from practice, I have a deep appreciation for the richness of lived experience and seek out teachers who have it.
The book is organized into 83 chapters for 83 mindsets – making each one a quick read with the return of a valuable nugget of information that works for a busy lifestyle. By reading the author’s shared mindsets, reflective questions, and retrieval practice exercises, the reader is transformed by the end of this book.
Moreover, by providing so many mindset examples, Norman made me aware of limiting mindsets that I had not even known about.
This book refined how I look at my role as a coach, making me more comfortable in my own skin while establishing boundaries and diving deeper into creativity. “Your role is to be challenging, to disrupt and shine a light on ‘blind-spots’, not to have a cosy chat” (p21). After reading this book and practicing Norman's mindset shifts, I can more easily lean into emotions, silence, and how to coach in a way that demonstrates that the client is the expert.
The central thesis of the book – you need to shift your mindset in order to shift your skillset, rings true to the heart and for everything in life. Change starts at the psychological level of belief.
By sharing the mindsets she’s observed in new coaches, Norman reminds us we are not alone in our journeys.
No matter where you are in your coaching practice, or what credentialing body you are supervised by, introspection and continued growth and development are critical to refining your own coaching practices and embodying a growth mindset in order to best serve your clients.
This book is an excellent opportunity for coaches to come together to discuss how they’ve integrated their mindsets into their own practices and how they can make them their own.
Norman, Clare. The Transformational Coach: Free Your Thinking and Break Through to Coaching Mastery. Right Book Press, 2022.