The 9 Coaching Roles

Yesterday I stumbled upon an intriguing article by Growing Agile: ‘The 9 Coaching Roles‘. The article is related to the course ‘Coaching Beyond the Team‘ facilitated by Esther Derby and Don Gray. After reading the article and course guidelines, I immediately added it to the top of my learning backlog!

The 9 coaching roles are balanced with the responsibility you take for client results and the client growth. This varies from being a reflective observer – you do it; I will watch and tell you what I see and hear – to being a partner – we will do it together and learn from each other.


Increasing Your Impact

As an Agile Coach, I’m continuously trying to increase the impact I’m having at my clients. This impact can be achieved on individual level, team level and organization level. Often I’m involved in a company-wide Agile transformation where all three levels are relevant. In these situations a transformation team is setup which includes both representatives from the organization itself as well as external coaches.

While studying the different roles, I thought of the possibilities of using it. Probably the most important one is to align expectations. Taking the desired changes into account, it enables having a conversation about:

  • The role the client wants you to fulfil
  • The role you think is necessary to fulfil
  • The role every member of the transformation team fulfils

This conversation should take place at the start of a new collaboration, and repeated continuously because the necessary approach & roles will change over time.

The Advantages

Advantages of having this conversation upfront are:

  • It offers clarity about your approach and the impact that might be expected. If you agree upon being a hands-on expert, the impact will be different compared to being a counsellor.
  • If the client wants you to be a partner, and therefore take increased responsibility for the clients results and growth, you will need to make clear working agreements and set expectations about authority.
  • It helps you create a balanced transformation team with all the necessary coaching skills.

An Evaluation Instrument

You can also use the 9 coaching roles as an evaluation instrument:

  • Which role you see yourself in currently?
  • Which role the client sees you in currently?
  • How is this different compared to the roles you’ve agreed upon?
  • Are you achieving the desired impact with the chosen roles?
  • How is the transformation team as a whole performing?

Upcoming week I’ll use these questions to assess the Agile transformation I’m currently part of. This will probably result in new insights on how to use the different coaching roles. Of course I’ll share them afterwards. If you are a coach or collaborating with some coaches, this might be a useful instrument to consider as well.

PS: I haven’t (yet) attended the actual course ‘Coaching Beyond the Team’. The shared ideas are purely my personal thoughts that came up while studying the visualization.