Powerful leadership learning and current thinking on coaching

Welcome to our book reviews

Take a look at the books that have stood the test of time in leadership and coaching.  

You'll find reviews and author interview clips below.

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Bob Hughes, Forton Group CEO & Creator of the Leadership Book Club

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Helen Caton-Hughes is the Managing Director of the Forton Group based in the UK.  She's an organisational and leadership coach, working with individuals and teams; she also designs leadership development programmes for clients.

Her aim is for everyone to see themselves as a leader: confident that they can contribute their strengths and have a...

Helen Caton-Hughes is the Managing Director of the Forton Group based in the UK.  She's an organisational and leadership coach, working with individuals and teams; she also designs leadership development programmes for clients.

Her aim is for everyone to see themselves as a leader: confident that they can contribute their strengths and have a positive impact on the people and teams around them.


Now You’re Talking, by Lyn Roseaman

Nw your talking Lyn RoseamonReviewed by Helen Caton Hughes


Leaders know that presentation is part of the role.  They know it’s all about getting their message over effectively, memorably and with impact. They know it’s the 'transmit' part of effective two-way communication and that this is down to them.

Yet knowing is one thing and doing is another.

Over the years I’ve worked with many people to improve their impact – on a national and international stage.

My proudest moment was walking into a conference where my young client, who had suffered badly from presentation nerves, was holding her own against some hostile questioning.

I was reminded of her when I was reading Lyn Roseaman’s book, “Now You’re Talking”, because Lyn writes powerfully about channelling your nerves, not trying to suppress them.

Her approach identifies the 3Cs - Confidence, Connection, Change as essential to good communication. Which is true, regardless of situation: whether you’re talking to a handful, or a hall full, of people.

Lyn summarises these as:

  • Confidence in your content and delivery
  • Connection with your audience
  • Change hearts and minds with your message

Presentation is an important topic for coaches too – not only for taking up those opportunities to speak in public and demonstrate our own talents – but also to support our clients to develop.

I’ve worked on my own impact. I’m personally using Lyn’s book to help me prepare my own talk next month as well as recommending it to my coaching clients.

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  556 Hits
556 Hits

The Ovarian Chronicles, By Cat Williford

ovarian chroniclesA cautionary tale

reviewed by Helen Caton Hughes

When it comes to leadership and coaching, sex plays a role.  The Ovarian Chronicles is a unique book – so refreshingly different in style to the ‘man up, lean in and have some grit’ tone of many books written to help women fit into a man’s world. 

Cat Williford is a leader herself: a pioneer in the field of Coaching and Coach Training. She is a Transformational Self-Development Coach, Speaker, and Author.  Cat’s writing style is one that weaves a story full of spirituality and faith throughout the book, and even what some might call magic.  

Cat grew up a surgeon’s daughter, yet through her journey embraced Alternative Medicine in the search for answers.

This doesn’t make it any the less a book about leadership.  It embraces the reality of what it means to lead in your own life: especially when it’s your life on the line.

This book is required reading, if you manage or coach women, or are a woman leader yourself. 

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  1348 Hits
1348 Hits

Female Entrepreneurs: the secrets of their success

Female Entrepreneurs: the secrets of their success

by John Smythe and Ruth Saunders

female entrepreneurs


Firstly - full disclsoure - I was a participant in the development of this book and was interviewed - as an entrepreneur myself.  Which takes us to the first challenge for women leaders and entrepreneurs - how comfortable are we with these labels?  It's one of the many questions the authors address in their analysis of 52 interviews with women entrepreneurs across a huge age range - from 10 to 60+.  It seems that being proud of one's achievements as a woman in business, and inspiring the team to feel good, is one of John and Ruth's "Top Ten Tips" for female entrepreneurs.

Secondly - the challenge.  Why is a book of this kind still needed? 

There are two sides to the venture capital issue - around which the entrepreneurial world orbits -

  • The first is access to venture capital by all-female teams (that's 1% of available capital) and 9% to businesses with at least one female founder.  91% of available capital goes to businesses with all male founders.
  • The second is that the make-up of those (UK) investment teams are low on women - only 13% of senior people in those teams are women and nearly half (48%) of investment teams have no women at all. 

As is so often the case with the world of women in business, the authors acknowledge each other in this ground-breaking field and Caroline Criado-Perez's work is duly acknowledged as a ground breaker in this field (see 'Invisible Women').  Because the insights we need to support, inspire and - most importantly - enable women entrepreneurs to succeed are now becoming clear - what Forton is doing is building a reading list of some useful books in this field.

However, let's focus back on this book.

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1130 Hits

The 7 Principles of Conflict Resolution - Louisa Weinstein

7 Principles of conflict management

The 7 Principles of Conflict Resolution

By Louisa Weinstein

Published by FT Publishing International (2018)

Disagreements are a normal part of life, and a healthy part when we listen to each other and use our creativity and insights to improve. Yet, for many, conflict is an unpleasant and inescapable part of the work environment.

In my own experience, I’m amazed at the sheer volume, breadth and depth of conflict that people can sustain. How they will fuel their own, and others’, grievances in order to maintain their status, position or power.

How leaders and managers often fail to acknowledge their role in supporting their teams to channel disagreement positively, recognise their responsibilities, or use their skills to address issues as they arise.

Having said that, I recognise that I need to develop my own skills (especially my patience) if I’m to be any value to the people I work with.

For all these reasons, it’s great to learn from the expert.

The author heads up the UK Conflict Resolution Centre and lawyer. Her interest in this field came about when she saw the difference mediation can make in her own professional field.

What’s immediately obvious about this book is the title: “Conflict Resolution” is so much more positive than ‘conflict management’, which implies (to this reader at least) a ‘one size fits all’ approach; suppressing the conflict, rather than resolving it.

Her definition of conflict is “the enduring condition where I disagree with you”. That’s the easy part. What the author shows is that, because of our different perspectives on what conflict resolution might look like, your solution may be different to mine. Our sense of ‘justice’ may be rooted in very different moral maps.

‘Resolution’ in this context seems to be about finding peaceful solutions: it’s a form of negotiation, often with additional parties, not just between the people in conflict. The conflicting parties may have tried already to sort things out – but how often do our actions not have the impact we intend?

Those peace negotiations may need to address career, personal, financial, political and/or emotional issues – sometimes more than one single issue or presenting factor.

To address this huge spread of challenges, the author has created 7 principles of conflict resolution, and peppers the book with stories and case studies to show how not every situation has a neat, ‘happy ending’.

What’s good about this book, first and foremost, is that sense of ‘no single right answer’. We each need to navigate our way through the conflict resolution maze, and this is the sat nav we need.

At the centre of the book, under the author also sets outs a series of clear steps towards resolution.

And the first step is as realistic and open as you can get – ask the question as to whether mediation might work, and how it might work.

This leads to the implementation of a support structure which includes a process and the opportunity to engage with mentors or conflict coaches, internal or external mediators, to ensure the process sticks: with the eventual aim of creating learning organisations, as well as skilled managers.

The author also describes the kinds of policies and communications steps that underpin the people and processes steps.

My conclusion from reading this book is that this is a great first step, and my understanding is greatly improved but that so much more is needed. I hear that the author is introducing a new training programme and I look forward to that.

In the meantime, I strongly recommend this book as a positive introduction to the topic of conflict resolution.


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1278 Hits

The Five Dysfunctions Of a Team - Patrick Lencioni

The five dysfunctions of a teamThis book has been around a while now: first published in 2002.  So a very fitting choice for The Forton Group to review in this, our 15th year of being in business.  It's described as a “Leadership Fable” and, I have to be honest, that put me off. Other books in this same genre have come over as being just too cheesy for me. However, it was recommended by someone I trusted, so I persevered. I quickly found myself absorbed into the story. The characters were plausible and the scenario terribly familiar!

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  2688 Hits
2688 Hits