So now we've talked about the characteristics of leaders. Your journey may vary, right? It's an individual journey. We talked about what leaders are supposed to do and so now I'm going to dip into coaching skills for Agile leaders. So, what is coaching? Who knows? Anybody in here a coach? Okay, so, you guys don't answer. What's a coach to other people?
“Someone who gets the ball back into play.”
They’re someone who gets the ball back into play. What else?
“Someone who brings out natural abilities, natural talents.”
Yes, we want people to maximize their personal, professional potential, and use whatever tools are necessary in order to get that to happen. Whether it be that we're getting the ball back into play, getting people back on track, or using the various tools that we're going to talk about here, the various techniques.”
So, let's differentiate mentoring from coaching. Mentoring is a hierarchical relationship. How many people do have a mentor, whether officially or unofficially? Okay, so, generally speaking, there's some sort of hierarchical relationship there. The mentor and the protege or mentee. The mentor is there to say, “Hey, here's a couple of options for you, I recommend that you do this.” They're giving you point by point directions. “Hey, this is what worked for me.” It's based on experiences, transferring knowledge. There’s definitely a hierarchy there and it's definitely a different relationship than a coaching relationship, where the coach believes that people are naturally creative, resourceful, and whole, and they can solve their own problems. They have the answers within them, they just don't know it yet. They haven't found them yet. They haven't invested time to figure that out yet, and so in a coaching relationship, we're really about -- I like this one -- dancing in the moment. My wife has forbidden me to dance.
So for this, it's really about dancing with whatever it is that the client brings to the table. So when to coach versus when to mentor, well, we want to make sure that we are coaching as much as possible, we want our agile leaders to coach. They're going to mentor when they absolutely have to. Disaster is going to strike, frustration level is high, ahhh, you know what, the person's beating their head up against the wall with some sort of technique that the agile manager would be able or as a leader would be able to resolve. So they're going to step in in some sense.
So some coaching techniques. First one, and if anybody's been at that session earlier this morning, they talked about powerful questions. So powerful questions are open-ended questions. They're generally not answerable by a yes or no. They usually start with what or how and the idea behind this is to explore. Have the person that you're working with explore more deeply what it is that they're after, how they're going to move forward. It's all about moving forward. I have found that around the fifth time I'm asking open-ended question I'm usually getting into new territory. The person is actually stopping.
So silence has to be another key here. We've got to leave room for people to think. So we're going to leave room for people to think. So especially when they're in that new territory, they're thinking new thoughts. First four, “Hey, those are rote answers, I know those.” Fifth one, it's new territory generally speaking, so we need to leave room for people to think. Agile leaders need to be comfortable with silence.
Next thing is listening. So I said it before, it was one of the things from the servant leadership slides and we talked about the fact that you got to listen. There are three levels of listening. The first level is I'm listening from me: what's the impact of what you're saying on me? That's level one listening.
Level two listening is “what's the impact to you?” I'm listening for what it is that you're saying and I'm listening to the impact to you.
Level three listening, which is the deepest level of listening, is where I'm listening to everything. I'm sensing the energy behind what it is you say, I am sensing the phrasing that you use, I'm sensing body language, I'm sensing facial expressions, I'm sensing tone of voice, I’m sensing the phone that goes off in the background that I'm going to bring into the conversation because it was something that was presented. It's a tool that I can use so i'm using everything at my disposal. Everything that I'm noticing, I'm bringing it up and I’m reflecting it back to the person -- “So here's what I hear.”
The key here is that I'm not married to what I'm reflecting, I'm just saying “This is what I notice when I'm coaching,” and as a team, same thing, “This is what I'm noticing within the team. What do you think? What do you see from your perspective? Because I'm only seeing it from one perspective.”
And then I'm going to acknowledge. I want to make sure I'm acknowledging them not just what they're doing, but who they're being. Are they embracing the Agile manifesto? Are they embracing the scrum values? How are they being? Are they in rapport with the other people of their team? So those are the keys that I'm looking for from an Agile leader. I want them to be focused on these activities, on these coaching techniques. That make sense?
Alright, so now we're going to do another exercise. Woohoo! So, in this one, I'm going to ask that you that you drop your armor, okay? And by that, I mean, you know, kind of let your ego go. This is an opportunity for you to have a coaching experience. I'm going to ask that everybody pair up, alright? So, everybody, everybody knows “Who are my coaches?”, everybody's got a coach, right? You pair it off like that.
The person who's going to be the client think about something, somewhere where you're stuck. It might be something off of that list. I don't have my samples but it might be something off of the first exercise that we did. Where do you stop? Where are you wanting to go? Feel free to use that. Could be some other area in your life; I don't care if it's personal, I don't care if it's professional, just don't care. It's up to you. Make it meaningful for yourself. Get something out of this exercise. Got it?
Then coaches, you're going to use whatever you can out of this list. Don't feel like you have to use everything, use what you can. Look at this as an opportunity to experiment. Remember your client is naturally creative, resourceful, and whole. They have the answer within them, you’re there just to hand it to them, probe it out of them. In all my years of coaching, I have never broken anybody.
And if I didn't break anybody, I guarantee you won’t break anybody.