The Top 10 Coaching Books to Make You a Better Coach!

Best Coaching Books Featured Image with 10 Books
Do you love reading? In this article, I share the best 10 Coaching Books about coaching and to grow your coaching skills. These books will make you a better coach!

I have included a broad range of books - and identified the most up-to-date editions of each book in question. And I hope this will inspire you to boost your skills, learn a new coaching model and grow your understanding of coaching!

Finally, whilst Amazon is a convenient way to purchase books, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic, many local bookstores are struggling to stay alive. If you can, why not order your book over the phone or online from your local bookstore, both boosting your local economy and supporting a fellow small business owner?

Jump straight to the coaching books list >>


It's interesting to note that (especially lately), most books about coaching seem to be written with leaders in mind - and coaches second.

The idea of course is that coaching can also be a management or leadership style - and this helps organizations get the most out of their people. As coaches, we all know this to be true, and it's great that organizations are finally catching on. But this does mean it can be hard to find good books written for coaches.

Even Co-Active Coaching has, in its last 2 editions, gone over to a leadership focus. But there is a glimmer of light.

Marion Franklin's book - The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching is for coaches specifically. Dr Marcia Reynold's book Coach the Person, Not the Problem is for coaches (and also contains sage advice for leaders who are coaching their staff). And Curly Martin's Life Coaching Handbook, is unusually, specifically for life coaches - even though it is a little dated.

Thomas Leonard's book - The Portable Coach is probably more of a personal development book aimed at the general public. Not so much about coaching, it's about the beliefs, habits and outlook that underlie coaching. It challenges you and makes you think - and I love it.

So, a nice broad selection of coaching books for you to choose from. I really hope you enjoy this article - with coaching books from the the early days, right through to books published in 2020.

Top 10 Best Coaching Books

1) Co-Active Coaching (Fourth Edition)

The proven framework for transformative conversations at work and in life

by Karen Kimsey-House, Henry Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandhal, Laura Whitworth

This coaching book is a fabulous overview of coaching, key skills, with ideas, inspiration, exercises and more.

Called, "The bible of coaching guides" by Stephen R. Covey, this is a book about the true dance of coaching with tips, ideas, advice and suggestions - wrapped in a coach-like writing style that both soothes and inspires. It contains exercises, practices, examples and concrete advice - and is easy to read.

Co-Active Coaching Book 2nd Edition

2nd Edition

The Co-Active Coaching model highlighted here is a powerful communication process that anyone can use to build strong(er) relationships.

NOTE: The two latest editions of this book have been "extensively revised" to look at coaching and leadership - which seems to be a hot topic at present. So if you're a life coach, you may want to consider getting the second edition.

Particularly good for: people considering coaching, new coaches and for non-CTI trained coaches looking for a coaching framework.

Coaching for Performance Book by Sir John Whitmore

2) Coaching for Performance (fifth edition)

The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership

by Sir John Whitmore

Updated in 2017 (25th anniversary edition), this is an excellent book that summarises the art of coaching in an organizational context. I still regularly return to it as a reference for Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs - and it has a great introduction to the GROW Model.

The goal of the book is to explore how to use coaching to maximise people's potential and performance. It delves into what coaching is, why it works and where it came from. And it gives ideas for how coaching can help with motivation, finding a sense of purpose as well as getting things done

Later editions of the book explore emotional intelligence and high performance leadership.

It's clearly laid out with short powerful chapters, easy to read, and I believe it should be one of the first three books every coach reads.

Particularly good for: New Coaches, Coaches new to Executive or Leadership Coaching, Managers, Leaders and as a reference for all coaches (Coaching basics, Maslow's Hierarchy of needs, the GROW Model and more).

The Heart of Laser-Focused Coaching Book by Marion Franklin

3) The HeART of Laser-Focused Coaching

A Revolutionary Approach to Masterful Coaching

by Marion Franklin

This is possibly the book to help you become a better and more effective coach!

Jam-packed with concepts, this is a book you'll want to read with a pen and notebook alongside - to jot down the thoughts and ideas you have for your current clients - and more.

There are lots of great examples to illustrate the difference the Laser Coaching method can make to 1) what the coach focuses on and 2) the outcomes that can be achieved as a result. And I loved that we are asked questions throughout the book to help us reflect on what we've personally taken away.

As someone who has been coaching for a number of years, I loved the concepts shared. I agreed with many, AND I have also been given some fresh, extremely practical ideas to try!

Particularly good for: I thoroughly recommend this book to all levels of coaches, but especially those coaches who have been practicing for a while, or may feel they've got stuck in a rut!

The Portable Coach Book by Thomas J. Leonard

4) The Portable Coach

28 Surefire Strategies for Business and Personal Success

by Thomas J. Leonard

I couldn't not include this fun and inspirational book by one of the forefathers of coaching, and the founder of Coach University.

This fun book has lots of ideas and things to do with your clients - and it's great for coaches to use personally too.

The book is broken up into 28 easy-to-read chapters - each based on a principle. Each principle has 10 ways to implement each chapter concept. With quotes, distinctions to draw and "How to know you're making progress with this principle" in every chapter, it's a great book to just pick up and read a page at random for inspiration at any time.

If you're a fan of positive thinking, if you believe that beliefs drive who we are and how we live our lives, and if you like to find a better way - this is a book for you.

PS. And if you need a crash course in copywriting just read his chapter headings!

Particularly good for: All kinds of Coaches and their Clients.

The Discomfort Zone Book by Dr Marcia Reynolds

5) The Discomfort Zone

How Leaders turn Difficult Conversations into Breakthroughs

by Dr Marcia Reynolds

In this book, Marcia shares examples, tips and techniques to take coaches beyond transactional, purely results-focused coaching to breakthrough coaching.

All we need to be masterful coaches is full-body presence and courage - and so we are encouraged to listen with our full bodies - from our head, heart AND gut.

With tips to help clients see through long-standing blind spots, how to summarise our own courage and allow our clients to be uncomfortable - because this is where the transformation happens...

NOTE: This book is not intended as a model for every coaching conversation, instead this is a book to help you help your clients have a shift - a breakthrough - when the timing is right. It is about finding and utilising "Discomfort Zone" opportunities to help our clients grow.

Particularly good for: Executive and Leadership Coaches - and any Coach who wants to up their game in growing their clients!

Coach the Person Not the Problem Book by Marcia Reynolds

6) Coach the Person, Not the Problem

A Guide to Using Reflective Inquiry

by Dr Marcia Reynolds

All too often Marcia sees coaches "checklist coaching" or trying to find the "perfect coaching question" which takes us away from being present and responsive to our clients.

This book is about helping coaches use reflective inquiry with our clients to be more present - and effective.

A book in 3 parts, Marcia first looks at why coaching is so powerful, and some unhelpful ("crazy"!) coaching beliefs. Then she looks at 5 essential practices including Active Replay, Goaltending and the titular Coach the Person, Not The Problem. Finally Marcia wraps us by sharing 3 important mental habits for us as coaches to embrace.

Full of tips and techniques, examples and more, this is a coaching skills book with lessons and thought-provoking distinctions that should help all coaches "dance in the moment" for more powerful and transformational coaching.

Particularly good for: All Coaches - and especially those who want practices and habits to coach more effectively.

Effective Group Coaching Book by Jennifer Britton

7) Effective Group Coaching

Tried and Tested Tools and Resources for Optimum Group Coaching Results

by Jennifer J. Britton

Jennifer Britton is a leader in both team and group coaching and more recently virtual coaching and remote-working.

If you're planning on working with groups - in any way (including webinars, workshops, team or group coaching), this book is your bible! And to be honest, if you're a coach, it's pretty likely that you're going to work with a group at some point.

With explanations of what group coaching is, explaining the different dynamics that occur in groups, core skills and best practices, a great chapter on how to design your own group program and so much more!

This book has checklists, an appendix with group exercises you can do as well as practical examples, tables and innumerable tips for anyone coaching groups.

The only slight "fault" is that this book is from 2010 - and still references phone coaching and teleseminars, when technology has obviously moved on to video. But the advice still stands whether you're on the phone or video, and the practical, structured help and advice in this book is so invaluable I still recommend this book wholeheartedly.

Particularly good for: ANY coach that wants to learn to coach groups, teams or teach workshops.

The Coaching Habit Book by Michael Bungay Stanier

8) The Coaching Habit

Say Less, Ask more & Change the Way You Lead Forever

by Michael Bungay Stanier

NOTE: This book is not written for coaches, instead it's written FOR managers and leaders to  move them to a coaching style of managing and leading. However, it's short, fun and easy to read as well as being jam-packed with ideas - and reminders about what it is to be a coach.

"The Coaching Habit" revolves around 7 Powerful Essential Questions that Michael shares, chapter by chapter. At the end of each chapter there is a section on creating a new "habit" based around the question's core purpose. In addition, each question has a follow-on "Masterclass" chapter that takes the reader deeper into the why of each coaching question.

For more information, check out our BOOK REVIEW here >>

Particularly good for: Managers and leaders who want to build a more engaged and resilient team, executive, leadership or workplace coaches, and it's also a great coaching primer. And finally, even if you're an expert coach, you'll be reminded what you love about coaching - and pick up some tips!

Effective Coaching Book by Myles Downey

9) Effective Coaching (3rd Edition)

Lessons from the Coach's Coach

by Myles Downey

Written by coaching pioneer Myles Downey, this is the first book about coaching I ever read. It's like a mini-handbook of coaching - sharing where coaching comes from, why it works, what it is, how to manage a session, key coaching skills and much more.

And for a small book, it packs a powerful punch. Enjoy!

Particularly good for: Coaches starting out, Executives and Leaders.

The Life Coaching Handbook by Curly Martin

10) The Life Coaching Handbook

Everything You Need To Be An Effective Life Coach

by Curly Martin

While there are lots of books for leadership, executive and business coaches, there aren't many books just for life coaches.

This book covers life coaching basics, with definitions, distinctions and lots of tips and techniques for improving coaching skills - including beliefs, language patterns, reframes, metaphors, NLP (Neuro-linguistic Programming) basics, and more.

It has a little on building a coaching business, but it's basic, has UK references and is somewhat out of date. But that's not why you would buy this book.

I recommend this book for life coaches just starting out to get ideas, inspiration, an overview of some coaching techniques you may not have already been exposed to - and coaching questions to play with.

Particularly good for: Life Coaches, New Life Coaches

Do you have any great coaching books you'd like considered for inclusion? Add your suggestions to the comments below.

If you liked this article on Coaching Books, you may also like:

Emma-Louise Elsey HeadshotAbout the author: Emma-Louise Elsey is the CEO of Simplicity Life Coaching Ltd. (The Coaching Tools and Fierce are divisions of Simplicity Life Coaching Ltd.) She is a certified Life Coach, NLP practitioner and recovering perfectionist who loves meditation, questions, quotes, creating coaching tools and writing. Since qualifying as a coach in 2004 she has worked with many successful professionals and business owners.

For inspiration and to help you with your businesses, there are many more Free Coaching Tools & Templates including coaching questions, coaching exercises, business admin templates for new coaches and forms to help with your workshops.


  1. Joseph D'Souza

    Great list. Thank you! What has helped my perspectives in coaching is awareness of other disciplines or avenues of knowledge that holistically complement the value of coaching. In Philosophy, the words of Socrates may even retrospectively provide great Aha's to coaches. From Ancient Wisdom traditions one gains insight and understanding about human beings and the journey of life. And within that lie so many books to read, people to meet and discuss with!

    • mturcott

      Thank you, Joseph! I absolutely agree - there's so much ancient wisdom available to help us today! Glad you liked this list of the top 10 Coaching books! Warmly, Mary


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