What type of Agile Coach are you?


In the Agile coaching space our invitations are often unclear. Sometimes we might gain clarity over a period as we refine what invitation might be most helpful with our clients, on other occasions we might not and we or our clients might decide that we are not the right fit for each other.

As we work and live, we fail, learn and evolve and grow in our awareness of our limitations and predispositions. In doing so we refine our understanding and build on our repertoire and capabilities through practice and reflection.

As we develop our awareness of our personal tendencies and biases, we can work with a consciousness of what the costs and benefits of those might be for us and our clients.

Do you recognise any of these patterns?

Where is your natural operating space and how might that be impacting the clients you attract and the results you work in service of?


Do you love really being part of a team and are feel attracted to teams looking externally for leadership.
Maybe, you accept a clear goal to achieve a certain target and you are part of the team who are working to achieve it.
More than being part of the team, do you see yourself as having responsibility for the team.
You might see it as your role to protect the team, to drive the team or to transform the team.
In this role you are attached to the team results in the way a football coach is.
Traditional managers often invite coaches into this space because it fits with their model of driving a team to succeed.
Working in this way, you may form close bonds but if the long term goal is to create a self-organising team then you need to be aware of where you stand in relation to that goal and the team.


As a scientist you believe that your clients can be analysed, diagnosed and fixed or transformed.
You will analyse, hypothesise, test, and prescribe solutions.
You are often hired for your expertise and opinion and you quite like being the expert in the room.
Scientists put a majority of faith in data and are likely to have firm views on right and wrong.
You might view your clients as subjects and you probably feel able to identify a range of things that they are doing wrong.
In this head-space, you might talk about anti-patterns or frozen middle-management.
Maybe you have a bag of remedies or frameworks that you can hand out to fix client issues and help them feel better in a whole range of situations.
Working with scientists often appeals to management teams looks for a clear and simple diagnosis of a complex situation.
When working in this way, you are likely to have to navigate the invitation to judge others and to reflect on what this judgement is really working in service of in this system.



As an instructor you probably come armed with a guide book and an instruction manual. Maybe you’ve even written one.
You are probably able to clearly tell people the steps they need to take to be Agile and how they should use frameworks.
People trained by you can probably recite the Manifesto, the Scrum guide or the different versions of SAFe off-by-heart.
Your clients might have aspirations to run a very standardised and tight ship where everyone is Agile in the same way and marching in time.
You might find that you are attracted to clients who develop a fairly fixed understanding of what it means to be Agile, whether this is through text-book definitions of Agile roles or firm views on zero-defects and automation.


As a coach you probably see your clients as whole and competent individuals or teams who don’t need fixing.
You see them as capable of great work but maybe a little stuck in their current reality. You probably use agility as a guide and a compass rather than a rule book. Using the foundational pillar of coaching you look on your clients with unconditional positive regard and trust that through creating the space for reflection and thinking your client will come up with opportunities and changes that are resonant for them and therefore more likely to stick and grow.
You firmly believe that by working with clients in this way and leaving aside judgement and diagnosis your work together will create more meaningful, congruent and lasting results for your clients as they develop trust in you and themselves and become brave enough to share their vulnerability and creativity.
Working in this way, you challenge clients to trust their employees in new ways and require a level of vulnerability and bravery from leaders who may be unaccustomed to working in this way and with Agile ways of working and leading. With this style. you are unlikely to find yourself being called upon in a wholesale “Agile implementation” project and might find it a challenge to fit your approach into a plan-based, deterministic transformation initiative.


As a systemic coach you work with all that your client brings and see behind them their personal and organisational systems from past and present.
You welcome all of the diversity and and richness that individuals and teams bring into the coaching space and you support them as they explore and tap into and develop these as resources.
You work with your clients to develop their awareness of the conscious and unconscious rules in play in their life and walk with them as they explore these systems and develop greater clarity, agency and insights.

Working in this way, you will challenge your clients to both see and listen to the systems that they are part of in work and potentially the systems that they bring with them from their personal lives.

In doing this you will work with them to develop systems that are congruent to their organisational identity and for them as humans.

Working in this way, requires significant openness to real challenge, trust-based relationship and  courage to be exposed and explore deep personal growth in service of you goals. The benefit is the possibility of deepening the understanding of personal and systemic awareness which can stay with us for life.

or maybe something else?

What did we miss?


(All images courtesy of Unsplash)

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