This is the 2nd of an 8-part series. Part 1 can be found here.
The Scrum Master as a Coach
This chapter is about the Scrum Master as a coach. The Scrum Master is often considered a coach for the team, helping the team do the best work they can to reach the sprint goal. In this chapter, I’ll describe what coaching is about, and share the three perspectives a Scrum Master can use when acting as a coach.
What is Coaching?
There are a lot of good definitions available that describe coaching. My ultimate definition is: "Coaching is unlocking a person's potential to maximize their own performance. It is helping people to learn rather than teach them."
Other good definitions are:
"The ultimate goal of coaching is to help the client understand themselves better so that they can find ways to make the most of their potential."
"Effective coaching is guiding without prescribing."
"The art of facilitating the performance, learning, and development of another."
"Coaching closes the gap between thinking about doing and actually doing."
What is Effective Coaching?
Via Portia Tung's website 'Selfish Programming' I came across the 7 habits of highly effective coaches. A Scrum Master can use these habits to check if (s)he is coaching in a way that the chances of success will be at their highest. The habits she describes are:
Lead by example. This means living by the values and principles they espouse as well as applying the tools and techniques they know to themselves and to their work.
Begin with the end in mind. A coach works backward from the goal to figure out the most effective and efficient way of getting from A to B.
Set a sustainable pace. A coach stays calm when others around them lose their heads.
Think with your head and feel with your heart. A coach balances thinking and feeling. They apply logical thinking as well as empathy when solving problems.
Pull, not push. A coach waits and is always ready when someone asks for help. A coach creates and offers learning opportunities instead of thrusting their ideas, advice, and views onto others.
Talk less, listen more. A coach postpones judgment on what they hear and lets others talk while they listen with care.
Flow like a stream. A coach is patient, pragmatic, and present.
The Scrum Master as a Coach
To describe the Scrum Master as a coach three different perspectives can be used, the individual, the team, and the organization. Coaching the individual with a focus on mindset and behavior, the team in continuous improvement, and the organization in truly collaborating with the Scrum teams.
Coaching the Individual
Explain the desired mindset and behavior, and help individuals see new perspectives and possibilities.
Influence the individual team members to use Scrum well.
Help each person take the next step on his or her Agile journey.
Coaching the Team
Stimulate a mindset of continuous improvement, and create a learning culture.
Support the team in problem-solving and conflict resolution.
Coach the team to develop "to the point that members learn how to best learn from one another."
Change the attitude, mindset, and behavior that restrict the team from doing Scrum well.
Coach the team in giving each other open and honest feedback.
Coaching the Organization
Help the organization achieve astonishing results by delivering high quality, valuable products.
Coach the entire organization in doing product management with a focus on continuously adding business value.
Support and encourage collaboration and cooperation with the Scrum teams.
By doing some research I've created a brief description of the Scrum Master as a coach. Besides sharing the most common definitions of ‘coaching’ this chapter contains the three perspectives you can use to describe the Scrum Master as a coach. Coaching the individual with a focus on mindset and behavior, the team in continuous improvement, and the organization in truly collaborating with the Scrum teams.
Sir John Whitmore
The Coach's Casebook by Geoff Watts and Kim Morgan
Effective Coaching by Myles Downey
The Life Coaching Handbook by Curly Martin
Coaching Agile Teams by Lyssa Adkins