Coaching advice for Scrum Masters (Part 6): Fishing for your Clients’ Hidden Strengths!

The Coaching Scrum Master finds and brings to surface Clients’ hidden Strengths and Abilities (aka Potentials).

This especially valuable as Clients will build a strong appreciation of their own abilities and skills will be encouraged to break through their own mental barriers and step up and beyond their previous assumed limits.

The Coaching Scrum Master makes the Scrum Team believe that the Scrum Master believes in them, shall render no judgement and is there to get them to raise up to higher standards without forcing them, and to get them to broaden their domain of skills and capabilities without pulling them apart in the process.

The Coaching Scrum Master is not a cheer leader! He / she is there to show true and honest interest in the Client and project a sincere belief in their abilities and to enrich that with providing honest – without any sugar coating – feedback!

You many think sticking to Positive feedback and empty encouragement would eventually get them through the tough patches and bring out the best in them, but human’s nature works in a very peculiar way:

They can smell insincerity quite quickly and that would ruin their trust in you … and consequently in themselves and you will lose your positive impact on their quest for breaking through their problems.

Inspiring the Client to awaken their hidden potential is done through showing them that you Trust in their potentials, and are there to help them find them within and surface them.

They may also tap into the Clients’ desire to leave behind a lasting image of successful rising to the top and a story to tell the future generations.

Remember to leverage your position as an outsider to their advantage; You are not neck deep in their mess, and that gives you a better perspective from above and beyond to see where they are stuck, and where they need to go to.

Use your questioning method to guide them through the mud they are stuck with. Use that angle to get them to try new ideas – that they will fish out of the water they are in – and help them find their way out.

You are not their parents! Do not Patronize them and do not make them dependent on you!

Also, do not buy into their self-pity and excuses! (That is highly contagious so be very careful).

Resist the urge to manipulate them down your solution, hiding as a neutral and innocent stance towards their problems. (We all know you are fully capable of this, but seriously refrain from that!)

Do not encourage – or show approval of – inappropriate ideas or solutions. Staying within an ethical and honest domain is part of your fiduciary duty towards your Clients.

We cannot fix what we cannot see … The Blind spots are our key obstacles in finding the root of our issues and solutions for them.

Blind Spots only exist in certain angles … Leverage your outsider perspective to help your Clients find them in their path and remove them.

Another important element you can use to your Clients’ benefit, is the fact that a Scrum Team is made of individuals with a variety of personalities, skills, experiences and (whether they are aware of it or not) this should multiply their aggregate ability to create new ideas and put them into test.

Its is also in human nature to try to find an easy way out any situation (even though that may be the least effective solution possible), so the first one of them who comes with an idea the others don’t have an immediate objection towards, may automatically become their leader for solving that problem (esp. if it means the rest of them get to sit down and do nothing!)

Do not allow that to happen, by getting them to challenge every idea to see how it survives through their joint scrutiny and to get them to come up with other ideas to enrich their solution basket before it is sent for field testing.

Show appreciation and encouragement whenever a team member gets out of their comfort zone to toss in an idea and be willing to contribute to the team effort (this is an important practice to awaken their ingenuity, regardless of the assumed outcome that you are predicting! the main goal is to get them stand up and shoulder the weight of the solution, not find the perfect answer upfront!)

Remember that you are working with a group of people with great visible potentials and yet greater hidden abilities that even themselves may not have access to them where they stand. It is your approach that helps them to step out of the shadows and to fish them out, one by one, and add them to their joint roster of skills and insights and once that happens, your life as a Coach becomes several times easier as now all you need to do is to get them to mobilize them towards new ideas and down the path of manifesting those ideas into actions.

We will discuss more in the next article.


Arman Kamran (The Agilitizer)