Book Review: Be Your Own Leadership Coach by Karen Stein

As a leadership coach myself I was very interested to dive into this new book by Karen Stein. Not only would I learn more about how I could better self-coach, but I knew that through Karen’s deep experience of both leadership and coaching, I would learn how to be a better coach.

With a decades long career at Deloitte, Karen Stein’s experience is self-evident. You don’t work this long in large corporate organisations without learning a thing or two about how to navigate the complexities of working with people, and the obvious political challenges this brings. I knew that what would follow in this book would be borne out of a deep lived experience of both leadership and coaching.

Karen identifies 12 practices to work through as you reflect on the topics covered and then self-coach. Each chapter has a summary of the self-coaching techniques, and a wrap up of the chapter. Both of these concepts highlight that this is a book that works as a user manual. One that would do well to sit on your desk. Not a book to read chapter by chapter, but one that you will find yourself continually dipping in and out of as new challenges arise in your daily lives.

One of the concept’s strongly resonated with me, and with what I am seeing more and more of in the literature. That of a “Mindful Leader”. No longer are we seduced by outdated theories of what leadership looks like. Brash. Outspoken. Command and control. Constantly driven to ideas of perfection and never resting.

As Karen writes in the book, successful leaders need to be mindful leaders. Cognisant of the need for rest and relaxation. Knowing that if we look after ourselves, we will see great benefits in our impact at work. Referencing work that covers corporate athletes, Karen demonstrates how we can learn a lot from top sports performers in how to be more effective and impactful.

Throughout the book you will get the opportunity to work on topics such as your values, how self-determination theory may influence how you view motivation, and the perennial learning to say no. There is a short section talking about “shadow”, and if this book casts a shadow I would say it’s that of someone who has spent many years in a corporate setting, as the author has.

Karen Stein has written a book that will help all leaders improve not only in their work lives, but also in their personal lives. The metaphor of “filling your cup” is sure to have people reflecting on where their cup is overflowing. For readers new to Kim Scott’s Radical Candor, there is a lot to take away and use in all our interactions with others.

Having your own coach is an essential tool to get better every day. Buy Karen’s book and you will have your own coach with you 24 hours of the day.

Review by Fran Cormack, Agile Coach & Organisational Coach

Be Your Own Leadership Coach: Self-coaching strategies to lead your way
by Karen Stein is out now.

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