Being an Agile Coach is challenging in many ways. You have to balance many things (see Olaf Lewitz recent post Spotting the Balance) as you work with different teams and stay true to your own values. You are a catalyst for change, helping the teams you work with see how they can work differently and supporting them on their agile journey. To do this you will need a solid understanding of agile principles and plenty of experience in how to put them into practice.
When Liz and I wrote our book on "Agile Coaching" we filled it with stories and examples of how to help teams implement agile practices that seem simple but have many common pitfalls that teams fall into. But you need more than this practical know-how to fulfil the role of a coach. Since writing the book I've developed a workshop style course on to help new coaches expand their skills. The surprising thing is that this course doesn't cover agile practices at all - it's all about the other skills you need to be an effective agile coach.
So what skills are important to build for agile coaches? Well, I think these fall into roughly three categories:-
- Working with people: listening, giving feedback, asking questions, building trust and rapport
- Facilitating change: enlisting support, reaching agreement, spreading success, learning from failure
- Systems thinking: seeing the bigger picture, identifying levers for change, communicating danger signals
Interested in developing your skills in these areas then come along to my Agile Coaching Skills class. Next one is running in London on 25-26 August at Skills Matter and after that in Bucharest on 19-20 September at MosaicWorks.
But training is only part of honing your skills. Practice in a safe environment helps. I introduced the Coaches Dojo as a format for a way for agile coaches to support their ongoing learning without relying on trainers. It's pretty simple to run one of these for agile coaches in your area so I hope more people get these started.
I'm always looking to expand my toolkit and find fresh ideas to experiment with. Later today I'm heading over to the Agile Coaches Gathering and looking forward to learning from other coaches in the open space. Look out for an open space or Agile Coach camp near you.
Keep honing your skills as an agile coach in whatever ways you can, there's always more to learn!