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Article citation: Ruth Alas, (2012) "Coaching by Values: A Guide to Success in the Life of Business and the Business of Life", Cross Cultural Management: An International Journal, Vol. 19 Iss: 3, pp. -
Simon L. Dolan
Professor Simon Dolan deals with the topics of coaching and values in his most recent book - Coaching by Values: A Guide to Success in the Life of Business and the Business Of Life. He presents an overview of various coaching models and describes how coaching relates to such practices as mentoring, managing and training. As Professor Dolan has developed the concept of management by values, he could be deemed as appropriate person to offer an overview of the topic. He develops the concept of coaching by values, in other words, how to use values in the coaching process.
Professor Dolan connects his experience, gained from extensive consulting and coaching, with his experience in the field of academic writing. His almost 50 books can be divided into two categories - for the purely academic audience and for the wider audience. This book belongs to the latter. Not only will it benefit managers and employees of private and public organizations but it will also support students, academic researchers and lecturers, who will discover useful material for lectures and texts.
The value of this book lies in its applicability of the concept of coaching by values in organisations. In addition to the theoretical aspects on coaching and values, practical tools are also presented to the reader. It provides the tools and guidelines for self-coaching and coaching others followed by examples of implementation.
The book suits both academicians through assisting research and practitioners through serving as a practical guide. Since the two fields overlap, the book fits perfectly in the libraries of both academic and organisational institutions.
The book sets out by illustrating the journey of the author through his work in the academic world and consulting industry, which led him to create the concept of coaching by values. He provides the two-dimensional model for success, and he explains very convincingly how implementing coaching by values can assist in boosting the employees' well-being.
The book contains five chapters. The first chapter presents an in-depth overview of the development of coaching as a discipline, while the second chapter leads us to the field of values and how values are connected with culture. The third chapter reveals the secret of using values in coaching, while the fourth chapter introduces the methodology and tools. The fifth chapter summarises the book through the presentation of a universal future-oriented modal for world values.
A large section of the book has been devoted to the first chapter, which spans 69 pages and is entitled "A Coaching Kaleidoscope". Here the author addresses the following questions:
The second chapter, 46 pages in length and entitled "Coaching and values, or the value of value," presents a summary of literature dealing with values and how values are formed in organisations. Although the chapter does not provide a holistic overview of all the main studies on values, it is still of tremendous practical value. Examples of typical values and beliefs that produce negative or positive behavioural outcomes are expounded upon through testimonies of those sharing personal experiences with value-driven leadership. The author provides "The 3Es" tri-axial model including the economic-pragmatic, ethical-social and emotional-developmental values.
While the first two chapters contain rich material for students and academic writers, the third chapter, extending over 24 pages and entitled "The secret of coaching by values: alignment and realignment" is most useful for practitioners and self-analysis. I suspect that some consultants may commence reading at this chapter since it is here the author indicates how value congruence might lead to a positive outcome. He also warns the reader against negative consequences of value incongruence. In addition, a self-diagnostic tool is presented in this chapter.
The real treat for consultants, however, lies in the fourth chapter, entitled "CBV methodologies and tools for everyone". The 34 pages appear more like a manual than academic reading. Detailed guidelines are given on how to implement the seven step process of coaching by values. Some steps include eight sub steps, described in detail as well. In the conclusion the author highlights the need to be creative and imaginative within these steps, and the importance of developing a personalised approach.
The final chapter, which spans 33 pages and bears the title "Toward a universal and future-oriented model of world values", is geared to researchers, philosophers and those who like to contemplate on existential issues. Here the author returns to the topic of values discussed in the second chapter. Furthermore, the neurobiology of values, spiritual values and spiritual leadership are laid out. By adding non-instrumental spiritual values to the author's "3Es tri-axial model of instrumental values" the universal model is created.
To deepen the reader's understanding, all chapters include questions for reflection and articles from people who have practical experience in field. Examples are drawn from articles of well-known scholars or trainers with impressive track records, such as Professor Dave Ulrich, Michael Arloski, David Caruso, Michele Hunt, Richard Barrett and Riane Eisler.
I work as a professor in a business school. One month ago I received a phone call from our school, informing me that our rector had suffered a serious heart attack and decided not to continue in his post. I too had experienced personally how being overly dedicated to work could destroy a person's health through a close family member who became disabled at the age of 50 due to a work related illness. These two cases caused me question whether it is worth sacrificing one's health in order to fulfil one's duties. Is it good to always respond with "yes" and complete the task at any cost? Maybe those who have learned to say "no" are wiser. This attitude may benefit not only them personally through enabling them to remain healthy longer, but it may also benefit the organisations they work for. We are all aware of the fact that training existing people is less burdensome than recruiting and training new people.
The following morning I read how Simon Dolan started his career by studying patients who had had their first heart attack. He discovered that more than 90 per cent of them attributed their attack to stress at work. This discovery begged the question: why do we work? He started to reflect on the meaning of life and question deeper issues of life. This was exactly what I had been seeking, and I thus felt strongly motivated to continue reading. I hoped to find answers to the following questions: how can I help people and organisations? How can I replace the frequently used paradigm of dominance with a paradigm of partnership and care?
Simon Dolan has answered these questions in this book. He suggests using the method he has developed for auditing, sorting and prioritizing one's own values, for aligning them with one's own goals, and following them with actions. Embodying one's own values even in the most minute details of one's life and work will most likely result in a more fulfilling and harmonious life, which in turn will generate an inner satisfaction boosting one's physical and mental well-being. This is his definition of success. This, of course, is simple to say but difficult to implement. Nevertheless, I have decided to start practising it.
The author uses illustrative examples throughout his book. Following the presentation of the theoretical model for the step-by-step culture engineering he describes the corresponding real case scenario in a large insurance company. The author elaborates on how people can use either self-coaching, or dialogue with a professional trained coach in order to achieve alignment of one's own values with one's own goals. He also explains how this alignment can help to achieve a more meaningful life and enhanced happiness.
As the fourth chapter includes a set of detailed step-by-step guidelines on how to apply coaching by values in dyads and in larger groups, I decided to implement a coaching session in the Change Management class with MBA students. Fortunately, one student in the group had trained as a coach at a telecommunication company. He enriched the theory I provided through sharing his practical experience with the group. I realised the importance of having an officially trained person.
Reading the book can stimulate interest and offer the preliminary guidelines, but it does not replace practical training. The book contains several useful tools. For example, it contains a quiz on page 127, which has ten questions to help discern whether your organisation is development-oriented or control-oriented. On page 203, the reader can test his or her spirituality by answering a quiz with 20 questions. The result might range from being highly spiritual to highly sceptical. In addition, a list of generic values enables one to position oneself on the 3Es tri-axial model of values.
The book reflects Simon Dolan's multicultural background and work as a trainer at international firms worldwide. Based on his personal experience and research, he has summarised values in Asia, the Anglo-Saxon part of Europe and finally in Hispanic and some Arabic countries. This comparison of hierarchies of values may help to explain the differences in the EU and offer ideas on how to approach these issues in different countries.
The book provides useful reading for different audience segments. Chapters 1, 2 and 5 would most likely attract academic researchers. Chapters 3 and 4 will arouse great interest among consultants. Of course, the 222 pages are not adequate to satisfy all the needs of potential readers in all segments. It is advisable to read other books on coaching from various authors. Following are some suggestions: Whitmore (1974) The Inner Game of Tennis in 2009 describes the GROW model; The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching, edited by Morgan et al. (2005); Co-Active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life by Whitworth et al. (2007) , where unfortunately, the most comprehensive leadership study, the GLOBE study, was absent. To obtain more knowledge about the connections between values and society it is worth reading Culture, Leadership, and Organizations by House et al. (2004).
As the current book often refers to previous publications by Simon Dolan and co-authors - Managing by Values and Beyond: Business and Society in Transformation, it would be beneficial to read these books as well.
Last but not least, the book is written in attractive language, which indicates the creative thinking of the author. The title of sub-chapter 3.1: "If the shoe fits, wear it; if it does not, change it" is a case in point. The text is well supported by figures, tables and illustrations, all of which make the book extremely readable, exciting and even fun, despite dealing with such a serious topic as our well-being.
To conclude, by addressing real human needs, this book conveys meaning and value at both the individual and organisational levels and is good value for money. It contains the convincing story of how implementing coaching by values can help to enhance the well-being of the individual and the working environments in organisations. The final sub-chapter "Values in the new age" invites readers to consider new global needs and new paradigms. In Estonia we have a saying - "Several heads are better than one head". From this we can conclude that thinking together about critical issues for our common future in a global world will help to create something for the common good.
I highly recommend this book to everybody who wants to improve the quality of their own life.
Estonia Business School, Estonia
House, R.J., Hanges, P.J., Javidan, M., Dorfman, P.W. and Gupta, V. (Eds) (2004), Culture, Leadership, and Organizations. The GLOBE Study of 62 Societies, Sage, Thousand Oaks, CA.
Morgan, H., Harkins, P. and Goldsmith, M. (Eds) (2005), The Art and Practice of Leadership Coaching, Wiley, New York, NY.
Whitmore, W.T. (1974), The Inner Game of Tennis, Random House, Milson Point.
Whitworth, L., Kimsey-house, H., Kimsey-house, K.K. and Sandahl, P. (2007), Co-active Coaching: New Skills for Coaching People Toward Success in Work and Life, 2nd ed., Davis Black, Palo Alto, CA.
Dolan, S.L. and Raich, M. (2008), Beyond: Business and Society in Transformation, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.
Dolan, S.L., Garcia, S. and Richley, B. (2006), Managing by Values: A Corporate Guide to Living, Being Alive, and Making a Living in the 21st Century, Palgrave Macmillan, Basingstoke.