• Toby Sinclair

What is coaching?

At the start of this year my job title changed to “Agile Coach”. I’d always thought I had a pretty good idea of what “Coaching” is and that i’d been doing it to some degree in my previous testing and agile roles. Now I was officially a “Coach” i wanted to explore it further. It’s been an eye opening journey.

Firstly lets look at Agile Coaching which Lyssa Adkins defines as:

“Agile coaching is really important because we have a bunch of crappy Agile happening in the world right now. Even when it’s happening fairly well, I just know that pumping up mediocre results faster was not really the main intention behind this way of working.

I think coaches are an integral part to helping teams get to astonishing results because it’s all in the interactions of human beings where that happens. There is no piece of it in the Agile framework that’s going to help you with that. Having Agile framework there and working well, it’s certainly going to provide the structure and the container within which that can happen, the boundaries. But there are so much more to do within those boundaries, so many more things to bring to the team, so many more ideas and things from different disciplines – things from conflict management and facilitation and teaching and mentoring and professional coaching and a few more.” [1]

If we look at this definition Lyssa clearly highlights the benefit a coach can bring to the Agile context. In particular helping teams apply Agile principles and practices more effectively.

Things get interesting though in the second paragraph – “interactions of human beings”. This opens up a whole new dimension to the “Agile Coach”.

Timothy Gallway author of the Inner Game defines “Coaching” as:

“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” [2]

This was an eye opening perspective. When I reflect much of my prior experience has been around teaching.

In my quest to get a deeper understanding of “interactions of human beings” i’ve been reading Geoff Watts excellent book:

The Coach’s Casebook: Mastering the twelve traits that trap us.

In the book Geoff explores common traits within individuals that can often trap us such as Imposter Syndrome, Going to Excess and Cynicism. Geoff explains that with the right techniques individuals can harness these traits to become highly successful people.

Geoffs book has provided me with a valuable inisight to coaching and with each trait he provides Tools and Techniques to help harness the traits for good.

I’m enjoying exploring “Coaching” at a deeper level even though I’m a little overwhelmed by the the small stack of books next to my desk.

[1] – http://www.infoq.com/news/2012/12/agile-coaching

[2] – http://theinnergame.com/noel-posus-overview-of-life-coaching-quotes-tim-gallwey/

©2020 by Toby Sinclair.

  • LinkedIn
  • Twitter