What is Coaching, and what is an Agile Coach?

What is coaching, and what is an Agile Coach?

Coaching is all about helping people to reach their full potential. As coaches we take a stance that all people are capable of finding their own answers, make their own choices and take actions by themselves, and when they make mistakes, they are perfectly able to learn from these and develop. In other words we are naturally creative, resourceful and capable fo finding our own solutions.

So why would you need a coach, you might ask?

Well, we all have blind spots and a coach can help you in your own process by holding up a mirror, so that you can see yourself from a different perspective. This can help you develop, learn and grow.

As an Agile Coach we have a number of tools and techniques we can use to influence culture and enhance values in an organization, and we typically help teams and individuals in those teams to reach better business outcomes.

In the competency framework of an Agile Coach as presented by Adventures with Agile and Dandypeople.com, we see that there are many competencies an Agile Coach is trained in and use. For example we might do a lot of facilitation, by facilitating workshops, or sometimes we do teaching or training by using simulations or other tools and techniques and we can do mentoring by sharing our own experience or show examples of how things could be done.

I think many of us working as Agile Coaches work with one or several teams somewhere in an organization, and often we coach a team and help initiate change there, but coaching on team level has some limitations because a team is part of a larger system – the organization.

Regardless of where in the organization we as coaches help, the way we show up is essential. Thinking unconditionally positive about each individual is the mindset I as a coach bring to work. It means I truly believe that people show up at work with an intention to contribute and do their best, they want to succeed and develop themselves.

Independent of which role you have in an organization I think it is worth spending some time reflecting on this. Do I bring an unconditional positive regard about myself and my colleges to work? How do I show up when I go to work?

If our organization believe that we are all leaders, independent of where we are in an organization each individual will probably take responsibility in a completely different way than if we believe that we have to wait until someone tells us what to do.

What we believe and what we value, influence how we act and many of us are unaware of how much this actually influences us.

As an Agile coach I like to be clear of the different approaches I can take. Normally I split this in three approaches;

For the main coachees, such as Product Owners, Scrum Masters, individual team members I can have individual coaching conversations where I do a mixture of coaching, teaching, training and mentoring based on individual needs. The main intention with this type of coaching is to help grow the individual in the role that she has within the team.

I also do Team Coaching, meaning I help teams become more agile within the current constraints of the organization. When addressing the team as a whole I will likely facilitate or run workshops that help the team embrace more of the practices that improves their current way of working. This could be in the form of training/simulations, building trust, increasing collaboration, participate in retrospectives and help solve impediments.

Most times there will also be systemic impediments that needs to be addressed and I will be doing organizational coaching, helping the organization, or parts of it to change to clear the path for agile teams. I do this by creating awareness by using visualization techniques, run workshops and do simulations.

What I enjoy most about the coaching role is witnessing the transformation that takes place when individuals, teams and organizations manage to transform, one step at the time.

An interesting question to be asked in any organization that hires coaches, is; who and what do I expect to change as part of this coaching?

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