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Top 10 ICF-Recommended Coaching Books

Last updated on February 8, 2024

There are many institutions in the coaching industry that accredit coaching programs, but one stands out above the rest—the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Often referred to as the “gold standard” of the coaching industry, ICF is recognized as the epitome of quality and excellence across the world.

If you want to educate yourself on coaching, it’s logical to seek out books approved or recommended by the ICF. But here’s the thing: the ICF hasn’t published a list of ICF-recommended coaching books. That’s why we’ve compiled a list of the most popular life coaching books that can enrich your knowledge and skills in this field. 

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1. Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide by Jonathan Passmore, Tracy Sinclair

Becoming a Coach: The Essential ICF Guide by Jonathan Passmore, Tracy Sinclair

This book is the perfect fundamental guide for anyone who wants to learn the basics, and especially those who aim to earn ICF accreditation. Becoming a Coach pays special attention to ICF competencies, the most recent research in coaching, and includes the updated skills that ICF introduced in 2020. The book concentrates on essential coaching skills, insights that every coach should have, and self-awareness development. 

2. Coach the Person, Not the Problem by Dr. Marcia Reynolds

Coach the Person, Not the Problem by Dr. Marcia Reynolds

Here’s a book that can shift your perspective on what’s really important in coaching and how to get the best results. Dr. Marcia Reynolds is one of the key authorities in the coaching field, and she explains how to master reflective inquiry and why this is a key skill for coaches. She argues that relying on open-ended questions is limiting because questions give limiting answers while inquiry leads to deeper insights.

Coach the Person, Not the Problem introduces five key reflective inquiry practices: emphasizing the person, summarizing, uncovering beliefs, defining outcomes, and articulating insights. These practices, combined with a supportive coach, can create a safe space for clients to transform and grow.

3. Coaching For Performance by John Whitmore

Coaching For Performance by John Whitmore

Coaching For Performance is often called “the bible of the industry,” and it is recommended as a must-read for every coach. Even though it is primarily targeted at high-performance coaches, performance consultants, and professionals in similar fields, it can be invaluable for coaches across all niches, as it delves into the GROW model, a coaching framework that made a tremendous impact on this industry. 

John Whitmore addresses transpersonal psychology, personal development, and practical coaching techniques. There are also chapters on emotional intelligence and high-performance leadership—key concepts for effective coaching. He also supports his claims with real-life examples so you can comprehend how the techniques play out in real-world situations.

4. Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, and Laura Whitworth

Co-Active Coaching by Henry Kimsey-House, Karen Kimsey-House, Phillip Sandahl, and Laura Whitworth

When it comes to books that had a major influence on the development of the coaching industry, Co-Active Coaching must be mentioned. It is a great resource for those interested in adopting different coaching approaches or perfecting the Co-Active Coaching method.

The Co-Active Coaching method is centered around five crucial skills: listening, curiosity, intuition, self-management, and deepening. With the help of this method, you can guide clients toward transformation and reaching their full potential.

5. Effective Group Coaching by Jennifer Britton

Effective Group Coaching by Jennifer Britton

Group coaching is among the most common forms of delivering a coaching service. In fact, 75% of coaches offer group coaching. So, if you want to ensure that your group sessions are well-designed and delivered in the most effective way, be sure to read Effective Group Coaching.

Jennifer Britton doesn’t only talk about group sessions, but also webinars, workshops, or any other form of group coaching. She is very thorough in explaining the essentials of coaching a group and covers group dynamics, how to design a group program, how to market group sessions, and so much more. 

6. The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler & Rich Litvin

The Prosperous Coach by Steve Chandler & Rich Litvin

Knowing how to build a business that lasts is just as important as developing coaching skills. That’s why we’ve included the bestseller The Prosperous Coach in our top picks. What we love about this book is that the ideas are unconventional and directed toward attracting high-paying clients.

The insights are practical and focused on showing you how to leverage your uniqueness to build a business that thrives. Some of the concepts Chandler and Litvin tackle are crafting proposals, relationship marketing, overcoming common fears, and delivering powerful services. 

7. Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus

Coaching Questions: A Coach’s Guide to Powerful Asking Skills by Tony Stoltzfus

Strategic questioning has immense power in coaching, which is why Coaching Questions is such an essential read. Tony Stoltzfus and 12 other professional coaches have joined forces to compile and share tools, models, and exercises for results-driven questioning in coaching. 

You’ll find over 1,000 examples of questioning techniques drawing from real coaching situations and ranging from basic to advanced methods, so this book is valuable for coaches at every stage. The book also addresses common mistakes in asking questions, and it provides proper ways to correct those errors. 

8. Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Awaken The Giant Within by Tony Robbins

Life coaches need to go through personal transformation to reach excellence in this field. That’s why Awaken The Giant Within is often recommended as valuable literature for coaches. Tony Robbins is one of the leading authorities in life coaching, and in this book, he aims to help readers overcome beliefs that are holding them back.

This is a step-by-step guide for self-mastery, taking control of your life, and channeling the forces that influence your destiny. In addition to these insightful tips for personal and professional growth, Awaken The Giant Within also contains NLP techniques you can apply in your life and with your clients. 

9. Evidence-Based Coaching Handbook edited by Dianne R. Stober and Anthony M. Grant

Evidence-Based Coaching Handbook edited by Dianne R. Stober and Anthony M. Grant

The Evidence-Based Coaching Handbook was the first resource to introduce scientifically proven approaches to personal and executive coaching. Based on empirical studies and diversified coaching methodologies, Stober and Grant put together a data-driven study of the complex field that is coaching. 

The purpose of the book is to assist coaches in integrating their expertise with tailored frameworks to meet the diverse needs of clients. You’ll get a deep understanding of the science behind successful coaching practices through in-depth analysis of multiple coaching approaches and numerous case studies. 

10. Creating Your Best Life by Caroline Adams Miller and Dr. Michael B. Frisch 

Creating Your Best Life by Caroline Adams Miller and Dr. Michael B. Frisch 

If you apply positive psychology in coaching, you don’t want to miss out on this book. Creating Your Best Life is a research-based book that addresses the connections between goals and happiness. Through clear steps, Miller and Frisch introduce self-coaching techniques for setting goals across 16 life areas. This book is favored by the global audience because it is packed with exercises and quizzes, so it provides an active experience to readers. 

Conclusion

You don’t need special approval from ICF to recognize the book’s worth. All of these books are incredibly insightful and provide mind-bending information that can transform the way you coach. The diversity of the topics ensures that you can find the information or inspiration you need at this moment. So, don’t hesitate to give these books a read and uncover new concepts, ideas, and techniques that can improve your coaching capabilities.

Editor’s Note: Looking for more book recommendations? Our featured coaches have plenty of suggestions.

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