Thinking of Becoming a Coach? Thoughts from the Experts.

Coaching is a challenge. And it's not one that everyone is ready for. To help certificants prepare for this rewarding path, Scrum Alliance® spoke with Certified Team Coachâ„  Vijay Bandaru.

In this interview, we ask about his journey and what part the Agile community has played in his success.

Scrum Alliance: When did you first become interested in coaching?

Bandaru: In 2012, the company that I worked for planned to transform to Agile, so they sent me to attend Certified ScrumMaster® (CSM) training. Once I received CSM training, I worked as an internal coach and worked with experienced external coaches. This began my coaching career.

I worked with several teams. Every day was a new day, and a lot of learning was involved through collaboration and observation. I decided to continue my journey as a coach and trainer, so I continued my certification journey. 

Scrum Alliance: What experiences helped develop you most as a coach?

Bandaru: I've attended various Agile conferences, and I have connected with enterprise coaches. Listening to the experiences and challenges my peers faced helped me to get a deeper understanding of Agile coaching and to improve my skills.

At a recent Global Scrum Gathering®, I was one of the facilitators for the Coaches Clinic, where I gave coaching advice based on specific participant questions. This helped me get a different perspective on coaching.

I have also been managing a user group through which I encourage brainstorming on various real-time problems from Scrum practitioners. This has helped me to get wider experience as a coach.

Scrum Alliance: What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming a coach?

Bandaru: Coaching is more about "asking" rather than "telling." A coach enables people to identify improvements by asking powerful questions. So anyone who is interested in becoming a coach should be clear on the coaching role. In order to be a successful coach, one should have patience, good listening skills, observation skills, and communication skills.

Those who are interested in becoming coaches should work as ScrumMasters first and should have in-depth understanding on Agile values, principles, and the Scrum framework. It will also be helpful to participate in user groups, forums and conferences, and work with and be mentored by existing coaches.

Scrum Alliance: What has been the most challenging aspect of your coaching journey so far? The most rewarding?

Bandaru: Coaching the leadership teams has been the most challenging aspect. Generally, they don't have a lot of time to give to the process, so it is difficult to fully involve them in a coaching experience. Another area of challenge is converting teams from "doing" Agile to "being" Agile. Most of the time, they stop at "doing" Agile.

The most rewarding aspect is when I see that the teams I coached are working on their own by demonstrating self-organization, showing courage, and implementing Agile values and principles to the benefit of organizational growth.

Thank you, Vijay, for your thoughtful and in-depth responses! Read the full interview here.

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