Adaptive Coaching, 2nd Ed.

The Second edition of Adaptive Coaching brings many additional insights to a book that has been called one of the finest coaching resources ever.  Adaptive Coaching 2nd ed. includes new chapters on driving deep and lasting change, transformational coaching, performance coaching, and becoming an adaptive coach.  This edition includes a lengthy annotated bibliography of key resources for coaches.

Author(s): Terry R. Bacon and Laurie Voss
# of pages: 365
Publication date: September 2012
Publisher: Nicholas Brealey
Available at:
Relevant Research: Adaptive Coaching:   The Art and Practice of a Client-Centered Approach to Performance Improvement was based on ten years of research we conducted at Lore International Institute on coaching effectiveness.  The survey instrument was called the Coaching Effectiveness Survey (CES), a 180-degree assessment of coaches that included a self-assessment and assessments by the people they coached.  This survey studied how people preferred to be coached, when they preferred to be coached, and what they preferred to be coached on.  It also asked the coachees how effective their coaching had been and what would have made it more effective.From this survey, we learned, for instance, that most people prefer non-directive coaching but most coaches use directive coaching.  Here are several comments coachees made that illustrate this finding:”Know your audience.  People are at different places in their lives.  You should determine where they are and not use a cookie-cutter approach to coaching.  For some people, the ‘rah-rah’ approach is best, but others need personal reflection.””If appropriate, hold back your advice and focus on helping coachees find their own options and make their own plans.”Comments like these (and there were many of them) led us to conclude that the best approach to coaching is to be adaptive to the needs and preferences of the people being coached.  After all, coaching is about helping them; it’s not about the coach.
Reviews & Comments: First edition was a 2004 Best2Buy winner.Coaches learn how to unearth the real issues underlying clients’ immediate workplace problems. Helps coaches determine their natural style. — HR Magazine, May 2004Every once in a while a book comes along that puts it all together. This is the book. — Peer Resources Top Coaching Books, July 2004

Has value for anyone engaged in coaching activities. Information is immediately useable; has the potential to positively impact any organization. — Training Media Review, May-June 2004

Of several books on executive coaching that I have read, ADAPTIVE COACHING would stand at the top of the list. —, March 1, 2004

The authors’ adaptive coaching framework offers a unique perspective and is a great resource for professionals engaged in helping leaders learn, change, and lead. –Mary F. Eckenrod, HR Executive

A practical, thoughtful book for anyone involved in coaching.  The authors’ vast and deep pool of experiences is translated into a useful, accessible tool.  –Christine Scordato, HR Executive

10 Responses to “Adaptive Coaching, 2nd Ed.”

  1. Executive coaching models and techniques continue to increase as the industry becomes more professional and research is carried out into the effectiveness of different approaches. It is important that whichever approach to executive coaching is chosen it is suitable for the individual client and the circumstances at the time.

    • Terry R. Bacon says:

      You are absolutely right. The state of the industry and the knowledge we have about the effectiveness of different executive coaching approaches continue to evolve. Until recently, there has been relatively little serious research on coaching (as opposed to therapy), and the executive coaching industry begs for solid, empirical data on effectiveness. The best case I can make with the research we have done at Lore International Institute (now part of Korn/Ferry) is that coaches need to be responsive to what to their clients’ need and how they prefer to be coached, hence my preference for adaptive coaching. I and a colleague at Korn/Ferry are working on the second edition of Adaptive Coaching, where we will present the most recent research results of our ongoing research on coaching effectiveness. Thai book will be published in the fall of 2011.

  2. Hi there

    Are you able to tell me is this book based on the theory of adaptive leadership?
    Thanks so much

    • Terry R. Bacon says:

      Hi Sue,

      Yes, much of my work is based on the concept of adaptive leadership. As I was examining our research on coaching while preparing to write the first edition of Adaptive Coaching, I noticed that the people who got the most value out of coaching were the ones who were coached the way they wanted to be coached. The coaching outcomes were superior whenever the coach’s approach matched the way the client or coachee wanted to be coached, and vice versa. The worst outcomes occurred when the coach and client were misaligned on their goals, methods, and process expectations. So we explored the idea that the best coaches, like the best leaders, were adaptive. We also saw that none of the many approaches to coaching (behavioral, cognitive, psychoanalytic, group therapy, etc.) had been proven to be inherently superior to any other approach, so we concluded that the best coaches were informed practicitioners, that they were competent in many approaches and adapted their technique and processes to their clients’ preferences, adapting “on the fly” sometimes, as necessary, to ensure that their clients were getting the greatest value from the coaching. That said, there is no question that underlyiing our approach is Carl Rogers’ person-centered approach to therapy, which is itself an adaptive methodology.

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