By The AoCS Book Club (Michael Cullen's review)
Book Review: "Supervision and Coaching" and "The Tao of Dialogue"

Book Review: "Supervision and Coaching" and "The Tao of Dialogue"

Supervision and Coaching: Growth and Learning in Professional Practice” by Hilary Cochrane and Trudi Newton. 2018, Routledge

Two bricklayers show up at a building sight only to discover that they will be working on a building with some elliptical, triangular, and circular configurations; in other words, not your typical mandate. What to do? Certainly, attitude and aptitude will need to be adjusted to the new challenge before them.

We begin this book review of “Coaching Supervision and Coaching” with this metaphor (generated by one of our AoCS book club members), as it neatly sums up our collective reaction of experiencing ourselves as bricklayers being introduced to an architectural challenge; in our case, being coaching supervision practitioners being introduced to two others (the authors) who have taken on the role of reverse engineering of the rather convoluted, if not complex, structure of coaching supervision.

In a wide-ranging exploration of the various models both in coaching and psychology (specifically TA), the authors share their perspectives and interpretations as it relates to the new, emergent field of coaching supervision. The result is an aggregation of different styles and approaches (with many references to other pioneers and publications) which, at first blush, seemed rather challenging for the readers but, upon a second read, could be appreciated that much more, if only for the effort and thought put into the book.

Like all new works of architecture, often times, the first reaction is of confusion generated by the accompaniment of effort of meaning-making. Can not the same thing be said of coaches who challenge coaching supervisors with their unique, somewhat elliptical, triangular, or circular approaches to the topics they bring to coaching supervision sessions? Need the coaching supervisors be well-versed in the architectural underpinnings of coaching supervision approaches and all the complexities associated with the various schools of (coaching) architecture?

Whether one chooses to contemplate, entertain, (re)examine the concepts, models, ideas and interpretative insights generated or not, this book challenged our own book-club members’ sensibilities of attitude and aptitude. Indeed, while it feels good to be a proverbial skilled brick-layer, using familiar tools and just getting on with the work at hand, taking frequent pauses with this book, one can appreciate both the conceptual framework and the craftsmanship involved when attempting to bring the two together.

“The Tao of Dialogue” by Paul Lawrence, et al. 2019, Routledge

Keeping with the bricklayers and architects theme, “the Tao of Dialogue” neatly encapsulates and exemplifies the clashing of the two, distinct professions and their own sense of expertise. Using allegory to great effect, this short book quickly gets to the nub of the matter when it comes to how we approach dialogue and the roles and responsibilities required for both efficient and effective outcomes for all stakeholders involved. Bottom line here is that the proverbial architects need to converse with the brick-layers before, during, and after the building mandate is enacted. While this may seem like common sense, it is often the things we take for granted that come back to haunt us if we are not inviting, inspiring, and inclusive – much like the buildings we choose, like and admire!

To be part of the AoCS Book Club, please contact Pamela Fay: [email protected]


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