Chapter 10 of Badass Agile Coaching: The Journey from Beginner to Mastery and Beyond enumerates the four meta-skills in the Coaching Growth Wheel. They are: 

  • Leadership, 
  • Change Artistry, 
  • Inspiration, and 
  • Role Modeling.

These four skills underpin the model and I strongly recommend a close reading of the chapter. We will focus on two of the skills in our discussion.

I have been reflecting this week on why the weekly topics from the books we are re-reading seem so germane.  A couple of possibilities have occurred to me.  The first is that I am extraordinarily lucky and that the topics we tackle magically fit the scenarios I find myself in. My wife beats me like a dirty rug at games of chance all the time, so I have ruled that reason out.  The second and probably more pertinent reason is that the material we read every week sensitizes us to the topics therefore we notice it more. One of the meta-skills discussed in Chapter 10 is leadership, this week I found myself discussing leadership. The link is not surprising, the moral of the story for me is twofold. First, reading (all types of reading) broadens my horizon and makes me more aware of what is around me. Secondly, when planning for the week I ought to consider whether I need to curate the material I am going to read so I can perform whatever role I am playing that week. A bit of foreshadowing, Chapter 11 is tilted Nuanced Agile Coaching and I think based on my schedule the topic fits.  

The first of the meta-skills is leadership. I am always intrigued when agile coaches of all stripes (that includes Scrum Masters and people that lead based on situations) don’t see the need to embrace being a leader.  Alternatively, we have all seen scenarios where someone steps up to lead in the moment only to be slapped down by someone that finds that behavior threatening.  Leadership is not as simple as waving a magic wand or saying you are a servant leader. Leaders make their teams and the people in that teams better in the movement. As Bob points out, a leader must be comfortable with uncertainty which allows others to act. If you are always doing and telling, you are not leading but rather creating a key-person problem. You are not training or modeling but creating dependencies. I once knew a manager that so micromanaged their people that they had hourly calls with their staff even on their honeymoon. Coaching of all types is a mixture of knowing when to model, when to observe, when to intervene, and when to keep your mouth closed. The term that often is used is “dancing in the moment” to describe the behavior.

Another of the meta-skills that resonated with me this week was Change Artistry. Change is the outcome of people making decisions that modify their behavior is to their best benefit. People are far less change resistant when they believe they have a voice and that they perceive the change will be good for them. In the majority of process changes neither are true unless leaders and coaches take an active hand in addressing change management. Involvement in change is a more powerful tool than PowerPoint presentations that try to convince people that change will be good for them.  Understanding change models and involving professional change managers is important but so is empathy. Empathy for those you are helping is that part of Change Artistry that I find is missing in nearly every change program I have ever observed.  

All four meta-skills are important but as I noted earlier, our consumption of knowledge is often contextual.  Which of the four (Leadership, Change Artistry, Inspiration, and Role Modeling) most resonated with you last week?