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Defining the Competencies of Agile Coaching

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The International Consortium for Agile (ICAgile) hosted a panel discussion at the Agile2018 conference in San Diego on Aug 7th, 2018 about the Agile Coaching profession.

The panel discussed what an agile coach is, the coaching competencies, where the career has been and the future direction of coaching. ICAgile is an international accreditation and certification body that provides knowledge and competence-based learning programs for various agile disciplines. ICAgile's Agile Coaching Track is one of its most popular learning tracks, with thousands certified from various learning partners around the globe.

What Does a Coach Do?

  • Does a coach give advice?
  • Ask powerful questions?
  • Teach the team plays?
  • Lead Change?
  • Show by Example?

All of the above!

The panel discussed the various "coaching stances" that Agile Coaches use throughout their day as agile coaches. These stances highly relate to the critical skills that agile coaches need to be effective. Many who grow into the Agile coaching role, typically from a tech lead, scrum master, or project management role, may understand one of these stances (Teaching, Facilitating, Mentoring, Coaching). Learning how to act effectively in all of them, and even harder, choosing the right one at the right time is where the coaching skill is truly in practice.

"Coaching" by definition is often defined as asking powerful questions to lead an individual or group to action. While this is a critical skill for Agile coaches, knowing when to be a mentor, facilitator, teacher, or coach is also part of the secret sauce.

The Agile Coaching discipline has come along way. In 2011 there wasn't much definition or a learning path to grow in the career. The agile industry needed a common definition and alignment on what agile coaching means. ICAgile got a group together to address this challenge, and the result was the initial Agile Coaching Track, Learning Outcomes, and Competencies.

The panel discussed some key skills and attributes of Agile Coaches:

  • In control of themselves
  • Devoted to the outcome, and hold the team and organization to that outcome
  • Able to intervene
    • Hard facilitation
    • Give advice
    • Raise awareness
    • Be in service of a bigger outcome
    • Empathy to meet a team where they are at
    • Patience

Agile coaching is a role and career that can be very rewarding, requires a lot of skill, and may not be a natural role for everyone. With learning, practice, and awareness of oneself and others, many can learn and grow amazing careers in coaching.

As the discipline is constantly evolving, the learning objectives, content, and competencies are evolving as well. The latest learning objectives can be found here

Speaker Info

The Panel, moderated by Shannon Ewan, managing director of ICAgile:


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