The Principles and Practice of Coaching and Leadership

Fully revised 25th Anniversary Edition | Foreword by John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays

Sir John Whitmore Coaching for Performance 5th Edition book featuring GROW model

Sir John Whitmore’s seminal text Coaching for Performance has been, at various times, the No. 1 Best Seller in many categories including: Management; Business team management skills; Business coaching & mentoring skills; and Human resources management. The book introduced the world to the GROW Model, created by Sir John and colleagues in the 1980s and has sold over a million copies in more than 20 languages. The English language edition is available now on Amazon UK or Amazon USA.

Coaching is more than a skill or a technique for individual and team development. Embedded in the process of ongoing communication and relationship building, coaching delivers practical, common sense approaches to developing people and services, and is a powerful way to unlock potential and create high performance. Most importantly it places people at the top of the agenda, in action not just in word, and is an essential leadership style of the high-performing company culture of the future.

About the Book

Extract from the Foreword

by John McFarlane, Chairman, Barclays plc, and Chairman, TheCityUK

I believe, like Sir John Whitmore himself, that each of us is on this planet to make a contribution to the world in our lifetime. People are searching for meaning and how they can make their own unique contribution. This is an age where humanity and community matter as well as financial returns. Finding this foundation underpins a longer-term philosophy…

Our responsibility as leaders is to create an exciting but safe adventure for our people, worthy of them devoting their lives to it. How people feel about working in the organization and how passionate and engaged they are in its agenda are what make the difference between good, great, and outstanding companies. Ultimately, our inner mindset and our outer leadership style determine how alive, energetic, and purposeful our organization is.

In this Fifth Edition of Coaching for Performance, Sir John Whitmore and Performance Consultants shine a light on what it takes to create high performance and unpick the myths around coaching. Leaders and employees the world over are truly fortunate to benefit from their enduring impact on our working lives.
Coaching for Performance book reviews endorsement John McFarlane Barclays

Extract from the Preface

by Tiffany Gaskell, MBA, CPCC, PCC, Global Director of Coaching & Leadership, Performance Consultants

Our intention for this Fifth Edition is for it to be the must-have book for coaches, leaders, and entire organizations who want to create high-performance cultures. Four decades ago, Sir John Whitmore, the father of performance coaching, identified business as a potential force for good and driver of human evolution. He saw an opportunity to unite individual and organizational purpose to benefit people, profit, and planet – the hallowed “triple bottom line” – and this continues to be the driving force behind the work of Performance Consultants International which Sir John co-founded…

The coaching profession owes Sir John Whitmore an enormous debt of gratitude for his extraordinary work. This new edition was completed shortly before his death which has been felt by many. He lived a remarkable life and I thank him personally for lighting the torch and passing it on to us. His vision, philosophy, and methodology have inspired millions of leaders and coaches to bring the best out of themselves and others. This book is an important part of his legacy…

The Fifth Edition will contribute to the continued professionalization of the coaching industry and clarify the huge benefits to leaders of adopting a coaching leadership style. At the same time, it will help to move investments in human capital from being perceived as a cost-center to a profit-center activity generating real value to business.
Coaching for Performance book reviews endorsement Norman Jardine European Commission

Extract from the Introduction

by Sir John Whitmore PhD, Co-Founder, Performance Consultants

The demand for change in business practice has never been greater than it is today… This Fifth Edition of Coaching for Performance will set out the reasons why all organizations need to embrace a new way of doing things, how coaching is central to that, and how it is a triple win for people, planet, and profit.

When I wrote the first edition in 1992, it was one of the first books specifically on coaching and the first on coaching in the workplace, and it has served to define coaching globally. Much more than that, it has fueled the adoption of coaching by organizations globally, and it is for this audience, people who want to apply coaching in organizations, whether as leader or coach, that the book is written…

Poor practice in coaching leads to the danger of its being misrepresented, misperceived, and dismissed as not so new and different, or as failing to live up to its promises. My intention for this book is to keep the record straight and eliminate the surrounding weeds by describing and illustrating what coaching really is, including the psychological roots it stands on, what it can be used for, and how it creates the ultimate leadership style for driving thoughtful, performance-enhancing measures.

What is new in this edition?

This Fifth Edition is the product of more years of coaching experience, of course, and more importantly the exploration of evolutionary trends in human attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors, and in consciousness itself. It reflects the advancement of this knowledge and the maturing of the coaching industry.


The fact that Coaching for Performance focuses on creating high performance might seem obvious to all. What I am keen to underline throughout this edition, though, is that the principles of coaching can be applied to any type of activity and will have the impact of raising performance. What I mean by performance is the result of reducing interference and increasing potential. I have illustrated this by including practical examples and also chapters on specific applications, such as Coaching for Lean Performance and Coaching for Safety Performance.

Additionally, this Fifth Edition launches The Performance Curve, a model that maps the culture of an organization and relates this to the conditions for low, medium, or high performance. The Performance Curve enhances understanding of how coaching creates a high-performance culture and thereby revolutionizes the traditional approach to organizational culture. This is the new frontier for coaching and leadership development.


In this edition, I have sought to make The Practice of Coaching (Part III) even more practical. It includes the original chapters on questioning, listening, and the GROW model, revised and updated with activity boxes containing exercises from our gold standard Coaching for Performance programs that are run globally. These practice activities will help you develop the foundational skills of coaching through experience, which is the learning style that we advocate and which is proven to be most effective. After all, one can be completely versed in the theory of coaching, but not be able to coach in practice at all. Additionally, I share new example workplace dialogues and new case studies to demonstrate how coaching creates high performance and to show the practical application of a coaching style in day-to-day leadership. These sample coaching conversations draw on the extensive experience my colleagues at Performance Consultants and I have had in working with organizations globally and the many thousands of participants of our programs, in the years since the book was first published.


I have completely overhauled the chapter on Will to include feedback, because it is crucial for high performance. So many of our clients are looking to focus on continuous improvement and learning and to move away from traditional approaches to performance management. They are thankful and relieved when we introduce their leaders to our GROW Feedback Framework, which applies a coaching approach to completely transform feedback and performance management. Whether you are already familiar with the GROW model or not, I am certain you will be delighted by the GROW Feedback Framework.


Like education, motivation, and management, coaching needs to keep up with psychological development and understanding of how people bring the best out of themselves. For years I have been banging the drum about the astonishing effects of coaching in the workplace and how coaching leads to optimal performance. There is always a time lag between what is known in some circles and full adoption by the crowd. Performance Consultants is opening the doors to share its methodology and examples concerning the evaluation and measurement of coaching. I have completely updated the chapter on the benefits of coaching to share our way of measuring the benefits and return on investment (ROI), which we know is widely seen to be the holy grail of coaching in organizations.


A Glossary of Coaching Terms has been included so that readers can explore and test the universe of coaching skills. The glossary is taken from the highly esteemed Coaching for Performance workshop, which is accredited by the ICF and considered the gold standard for those who wish to develop leadership ability.


Finally, there is a section of Question Bags at the back of the book. This is a useful resource for dipping into as you find your way with coaching. Having questions (rather than answers!) at the ready is the fastest way to learn the new skill and rewire your neural networks. After a while, your questions will trip off the tongue.
Coaching for Performance book reviews endorsement Magdalena Mook International Coach Federation ICF

About the Coaching for Performance Training Programmes

For those who wish to go further with Coaching for Performance, we offer e-learning and in-house programmes, public workshops and certification pathways for coaches, leaders, managers and the wider organization. Coaching for Performance is the industry gold-standard executive coaching training, available publicly or can be ordered in-house, straight off the shelf or tailored to meet your organization’s exact needs:

We also offer a Train the Trainer option if you would like to develop an in-house group of coach trainers to spread the benefits of Coaching for Performance across your organization.

Coaching for Performance book reviews endorsement Carol Kauffman Harvard

For More Information and to Order the Book

Order the English language edition now Amazon UK | Amazon USA | Amazon India.

Discounts and bespoke editions (corporate logo, customized cover, letter from the CEO at the front) are available for large orders. Please email for details.

eBook, Audiobook and Foreign Language Editions

Coaching for Performance will be available as an ebook and audiobook. The Fifth Edition will also shortly be published in Chinese (Standard Mandarin and Cantonese), Dutch, French, Korean, Russian, Spanish and Turkish.

Previous Editions

coaching-for-performance-book-john-whitmoreCoaching for Performance, 4th Edition
Czech (Management Press), Chinese (EcoTrend/Cite), Estonian (Vaike Vanker), Spanish (Paidos), Dutch (Nelissen),* French (Maxima), Italian (Alessio Roberti), Polish (Burda), Swedish (Natur & Kultur)
*Business Book Summary/EBSCO 2010.

Coaching for Performance, 3rd Edition
Italian (Sperling & Kupfer Editori), Polish (Santorski via Graal), French (Maxima), Japanese (Softbank), Korean (Gimm-Young), Russian (CMBC), Chinese (Renmin), Danish (Asschenfeldts Nye), Bahasa Indonesia (Bhuana Ilmu Populer), Swedish (Brain Pedagogerna), Croatian (Mate Publishing), German (Alles Im Fluss Verlag), Portuguese (Brazil) (Quality Mark).