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Posts tagged ‘Agile Coaching’

Adapting your leadership style to the maturity level of your self-organizing team

Unless they are adopting Agile for the wrong reasons, people managers find themselves facing an interesting decision – “Am I willing to let go some control in order to take advantage of the benefits associated with Agile?”.

Being human, it is difficult not to resist change unless we know what to expect from the future and clearly understand the implications for us. Once the future becomes clearer, we can start to appreciate the need to change. That’s just the beginning… Change for what?

In his book, Jurgen Appelo presents various levels of decision making and manager involvement in the context of Agile adoption. I took the liberty to build a matrix (see below) to match Jurgen’s various leadership styles to the 7 stances of a self-organized team [a pdf version of this matrix is available for download].

(1) Taken from: Agile self-organized teams – is the team self-organized or not?

(2) Taken from: Management 3.0: Leading Agile Developers, Developing Agile Leaders

The matrix presents which leadership style the manager should be using based on the level of maturity of your team. Hope you will find it useful!

Are we coaches or do we offer coaching?

As I was heading back home, I wondered – is coaching something we do or the way we are? So once I got home, I looked up the definition for both words (coach & coaching) and came across Visual Thesaurus (image below).

The reason I was wondering is that when I meet people who “do coaching”, they always say “I’m a coach”. I’m not actually disputing that they are (or aren’t) coaches, it’s just that I wonder if they have assimilated the coaching role so much as to BECOME coaches. Maybe it’s simply like someone who defines himself as being an accountant, an engineer or a clown when in reality it is because their day-job is accounting, engineering or clowning.

This leads me to wonder, if accountants stop doing accounting after 5 pm, does it mean coaches stop coaching after work hours? It seems to me, based on the many coaches I personally know that very few actually stop coaching – that’s almost a way of being – coaching the kids, sometime the spouse, some of the friends and so on.

Should we call ourselves coaches only when we are on duty or is there a better name to describe bipeds who provide coaching to people around them?

Personally, I have decided a while back that I do not define myself as a coach. Coaching is simply a tool for me – a very effective one, I would add – that I use to help people accomplish their objectives.

Asking Powerful Questions – Agile Coaching

Picture by Eneas

As Agile Coaches, we aim to be efficient. We analyze the situation around us, we ask questions, we experiment, we share our thoughts and observations, we make suggestions and recommendations. We try to be helpful.

Are we always efficient in the way we ask our questions? Could we ask our questions differently for better impact?

Below is a list of qualities associated with Powerful Questions taken from the reading material of the certification program I’m currently undertaking.

  • Clarity
  • Brevity
  • Relevance
  • Direct
  • Single Subject
  • Positive expression
  • Allow silence for the response

To be powerful, the questions should also have an impact. To be impactful, the question should aim at:

  • Personal issues and remain contextual;
  • Motivation behind the actions;
  • Consequences of the actions.

And include the question “what else?”.

    What we are looking for in the levels of information provided is:

    • Facts
    • Emotions
    • Opinions

    Finally, to be truly powerful, the questions should take the person out of his comfort zone in order to explore new horizons. Questions such as the following are usually very helpful:

    • What would happen if …?
    • With hindsight, what can you see?
    • If you were an expert in this field, what would you do?
    • If you had a magic wand, what would you do?

    Formulating a question isn’t always easy but to be an impactful coach, properly asking the question is critical. Hopefully, these few tips can help you become a better coach.

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