7 C’s of Successful Coaching

During coaching it is important for a coach to follow positive scenarios and use proved best practices. E.g. I found the following 7 C’s approach recommended by business coach Richard Winfield to be very interesting. The main components of the approach are the following:


  • Connection. It's crucially important to build a rapport with a “coachee,” to make sure that you both are on the same page and perceive information in a similar manner as well as to be moving toward one and the same goal.
  • Caring. It's is also great when a coach cares about a person and the progress he or she does. The coach should care about the outcome and have a clear vision of it, as well as know the steps to achieve in this objective.
  • Clarity. One more item of success is awareness of the situation and deep understanding, where the coach is approaching and what is done vs. what is left to be done.
  • Curiosity. It's good to show and feel real interest about the coaching result and about the obstacles a coachee is facing, it's useful to question what is holding a coachee back and what can be done about it.
  • Challenge. Try to challenge a coachee’s way of thinking, especially a negative one, question his/her restrictions and limitations. Teach a coachee to think bigger.
  • Confidence. A coach should believe in a coachee, in the possibility that he/she can achieve or is aiming to achieve. Only in this environment can a coach encourage the coachee to take the risks and to make changes.
  • Commitment. Both coach and coachee should be committed to the aimed results and do their best to achieve it.
Barriers for Coaching

From time to time I hear the opinion that coaching can be done with anyone and at any time, however this sounds more like a marketing approach, I personally don’t think this is true. I can definitely imagine scenarios and methods that can make the coaching process and all the work involved, useless.

Lack of understanding or misunderstanding about the purpose of coaching. A clear vision of coaching goals and a coaching plan should be worked out and presented to all interested parties before coaching begins. Better to spend some time on aggregating and structuring of mutual expectations, then waste several months on activities that are inappropriate for particular company or project.

Coaching is considered as intervention and interruption from someone’s "main work". The common excuse of ”I have no time” is a reflection of coaching activity being a low priority a by company or project management. Quite often such a situation happens when project members are most of the time occupied in firefighting and rushing from one crisis to another. Scrum coaching is not a crisis management activity, as well as Scrum is not a crisis management tool. For efficient coaching process, proper time should be allocated.

Coaching is used to compensate lack of leadership and motivation. Scrum is built around motivated individuals, as well as a Scrum master should show a certain level of leadership and maturity. Knowledge of Scrum does not automatically inspire motivation nor ensure proper leadership is in place, it is more likely based on these qualities or can identify the lack of it.

Coaching is provided to a person, who does not have impact on the project process. If a Scrum master has only responsibilities, but no rights, he or she will hardly be able to adjust project processes and coach team members.

Coaching used as quick fix rather than a part of company or program strategy. Hot fixing does not provides complex solutions, it is a work around that is usually relevant for a short period. Coaching calls for sustained effort and time, it brings, if not permanent, but long-term solutions and sets up mechanisms for new problem identification and solving.

Coaching is about teaching, not doing. When a coach starts acting as a Scrum master, the latter does not get adequate exposure or experience of solving problems on their own. Over time, project members can have a misled perception that a coach solves all the problems, and when a coach leaves the project, the project team returns to the same situation, where they were before "coaching" was started.

One size coaching model fits all cases. It can an incorrect concept to believe that one certain style of coaching can be applied to all people, and in all situations. In real life, what wo rked with one person in a situation the other day, can stop working a few months later or with another person or in a different case.

5 Coaching Tips

I also would like to share several coaching tips that I find extremely useful in my daily work.

  1. One step at a time. Do you know the most effective approach for "eating elephant"? Most likely answer is "by pieces." It is not good to give more information than a coachee can digest. Develop a coaching plan, and make sure that the given portion of information is digested and only then go ahead with new stuff.
  2. Support and inspire. Confidence in a coachee is crucial in coaching. Don't let a person give up, if you truly believe in him/her
  3. Lead by example and show that what is hard to do today, can be easily done tomorrow.
  4. Right mistakes. The mistake itself should not be a tragedy and a stuck point, it should be analyzed, lessons should be learned and workaround should be defined. People learn by making mistakes and solving problems.
  5. Inspect and adapt. Teach a coache to use an empirical approach: inspect project processes and if necessary adapt our activities to meet project needs. Although adoption does not mean compromising the quality of the delivered product or Scrum processes. Adoption should be an improvement and not a covering of drawbacks. Inspection and adoption can be made at any time; there is no need to wait for a specific date to perform these actions.
p.s. If you are interested on this topic, please see my opening post of Scrum Master Coaching Series.
Svetlana Mukhina
An Agile coach and a trainer at Luxoft Agile Practice. She has over fifteen years of experience in IT as a delivery manager and department head. She is currently working closely with delivery managers, teams and businesses, performing project assessments, providing teams and individuals Agile coaching, creating and conducting trainings and workshops. She enjoys observing how a new concept or approach is internalized and waiting for the “A-ha” moment to arrive. She is passionate about showing innovative and useful tools to teams and individuals, and loves helping make their daily tasks less burdensome and more fun.