I do enjoy a good book. I get excited about learning new things, and I really appreciate ideas that have stood the test of time. Maybe it's the engineer in me, but I also want to know how things work. I want to understand the 'first principles' of something, and to see it in action. That's how we drive ourselves here at Working Theory, and perhaps unsurprisingly, the books I read are like this also.

My reading is focused on learning new ways of thinking or doing. Sometimes that means I'm reading 'old' books, other times I'm reading 'new classics', and often I'm reading the academic journals to keep abreast of the latest research.

I like books that provide pragmatic frameworks, that help me make sense of the world, or show how these things can be applied. Some of the books I reference have a scientific basis for their frameworks, others derive their frameworks from experience. But if the book is on the list, it is a classic, on its way to being a classic, or is just plain useful.

If you do want to purchase the books, please use the links below. We will receive a very small commission, and it is one way you can support the work that we do at Working Theory.

Happy reading!

- Dr. Paul

Coaching Books

Coaching for Performance, by Sir John Whitmore

This book is the one that started it all. It is a classic, and a must read for any coach, or leader who wants to become a better coach.

In this book, John shows how coaching can elevate the performance of an individual. Connecting his experience in sport and business, he introduces his famous GROW (Goals, Reality, Options, Will) model, which provides a framework for his approach to coaching. This book is useful for both managers and coach practitioners. It is a practical book, filled with examples of coaching conversations, and it should be the first book in your coaching library.

If you wish to purchase this book, click here.

Time to Think, by Nancy Kline

One of the quotes from this book that has always stuck with me is "the mind works best in the presence of a question". And when you think of coaching, questions are at the heart of everything we do. And building on that, she brings to our attention that 'the quality of our thinking defines the quality of our actions'. So as a leader, or coach, our role is to shift the thinking of our people/clients so that their actions will follow suit.

For external/executive coaches, I found that her philosophy of coaching will integrate with whichever coaching modality you practice, and for those seeking to understand a different approach to coaching, you will find her content useful

For managers, Nancy's thinking will shift how you see your role as a coach, and you will be able to experiment with her coaching style to see what works in the workplace. She also outlines a highly useful approach to transforming meetings based on her coaching philosophy, which I highly recommend.

I really enjoyed this book. If you wish to purchase this book, click here.

Nancy also has a follow-up book to 'Time to Think', called "More Time to Think", where she goes even deeper. If you like Time to Think, you will want to pick this one up too. Click here to purchase.

Leadership Books

The Effective Executive, by Peter Drucker

Can a leadership book written in 1967 still be relevant today? YES. And while some of the gender language in the book reflects the age in which it was first written (there's not a lot of 'she' in the text), the management lessons still ring true.

This book is a classic, and is a must read for any leader, or for anyone coaching leaders. Effectiveness, according to Drucker is 'doing the right things well'. Knowing (and learning) what the right things are, and then doing (or learning how to) do them well is the whole game of coaching and leadership. This book is full of timeless wisdom such as this, and needs to be on your shelf.

If you wish to purchase this book, click here.

Workplace Management , by Taiichi Ohno

You might not know the name Taiichi Ohno, but you should. This book is a collection of thoughts and ideas by the father of Lean Manufacturing, Taiichi Ohno. It isn't a 'how-to' book, instead it shares his philosophy of workplace management - in his own words. Through his own writing and personal stories, he highlights how a management revolution is needed to shift our awareness and increase our effectiveness.

For any manufacturing/technical leader, this book is a must read. And even if you are not working in that space, understanding the thinking of one of the most influential leaders of the 20th century is worth your time.

If you wish to purchase this book, click here.

The Little Black Book for Managers, by John Cross, Rafael Gomez & Kevin Money

This book isn't from a management icon, but it makes this list simply because I found it useful. The whole premise of the book is to show leaders how they can use their power to move their people, their teams, and the organization forward.

By working through every-day situations, the authors demonstrate how you can elevate your leadership by recognizing and seizing these 'moments of power '. It is a practical book helps you become more aware of how you can elevate your leadership, and for that alone, I think emerging leaders would benefit from it.

For coaches, this book provides a set of common situations that leaders are challenged by. Becoming aware of these challenges, you can increase your business acumen, improve your ability to contextualize your coaching, and become even more essential to your client's success.

If you wish to purchase this book, click here.