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Building Better Business Book Club 

Reading, sharing insights, getting recommendations, staying informed.


In my work as a business mentor, I use a lot of coaching techniques. So I looked forward to reading Clare Norman’s “The Transformational Coach”. Clare and I have often talked about aspects of working with business professionals to support their awareness of their challenges and to create change. As a part of that, Clare interviewed me as part of her research for her book. 

The book does not disappoint. 

It addresses several mindset shifts that Clare has identified as important for coaches who want to become masters of their art. My focus on helping business owners to become masters of their specialism is subtly different, but in many areas, there is significant overlap. 

In this review, I’ve picked out six of the mindset shifts that I think are important for business leaders and coaches. I think they will resonate with business leaders who coach their teams and associates. 

Mindset shift 5 

The old mindset of “not talking back” being replaced by an alternative mindset of “challenge assumptions, offer disruptive reflections and provide insight into blind spots” seems critical. Too often in businesses, “the boss” is seen as infallible, never to be challenged, and their opinions become gospel. That is a recipe for failure and shifting the mindset is essential. Clare addresses how that can be done in a coaching context. Yet, it’s true in any context. The conclusion of that chapter is that “your role is to be challenging, to disrupt and shine a light on blind spots, not to have a cosy chat.”

Mindset shift 10 

This describes a shift from “Don’t be nosy” to “Do be curious on the thinker’s behalf.” Those of you who know me well know that curiosity is a crucial focus of my thinking right now. I’m intrigued by the nature of your interest and what it can bring you. Clare addresses what curiosity can bring to others through our questioning, which is vital in operating any business. 

Mindset shift 30 

The shift from the old mindset of “thinking about a clever response before they stopped talking” to “don’t think ahead, stay in the moment”. Again, this is critical for running any business. When we spend time thinking about our response while the other person is still talking, we cannot properly listen. We are just focusing on ourselves. I’m a fan of improv, and I’m training to improve that skill. Improv is all about thinking in the moment, reacting to what is happening now rather than what you want or think should happen. In improv, as in conversations with others, silence is a friend. Silence and pausing allow thinking to develop and insights to come to the front. That is at the heart of coaching; and business. 

Mindset shift 42 

I note that 42 is the answer to “life, the universe and everything”, according to Douglas Adams, and this is a shift from “always being serious” to “being playful and experimental” – how this touched my heartstrings. Too often, businesses focus on, and I quote, “being professional”, assuming that means being serious, focusing only on the matter at hand and not the wider contexts that go with it. Imagine a professional comedian spending his set being serious all the time! It simply wouldn’t work. It doesn’t work in any business that I know. Being playful engages others. Experimenting enables you to extend and stretch your capabilities and find new ways to support your clients and customers. In a recent book in the book club, we reviewed “Be More Kid”, highlighting how important this mindset is for business to prosper. 

Mindset shift 49 

“You work for me” becomes “we work together”. This is the epitome of teamwork. Of course, your staff work for you in any business, but they also work with you and focusing on that aspect as opposed to any other will change how they feel about you. In coaching, if you are not working with your coaches, then I am not sure that you can deliver a positive result for them. 

Mindset Shift 80 

“Coaching sessions have a set length” that shifts to “it’s okay to finish early”. I think this is true for coaching sessions and any work situation. Many years ago, when I had a team working for me in a large British bank, I insisted that they recognise that they were there to achieve their objectives. And if they could do that and finish early, I didn’t need to see them at their desks. Once they believed me, which took time, they were effective, efficient, and often not there! It was refreshing, and we got a lot more done. 


Overall Clare’s book is a book that is designed to be dipped into as well as being designed to be read from end to end. It is well-researched and well written, and I thoroughly enjoyed it.