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Understanding Coaching Circles

Coaching circles are popping up quite a bit these days. There are community coaching circles run through the SUGSA, and Growing Agile has just launched our first coaching circle package. So what is a coaching circle anyway? Below is my description, and personal journey with coaching circles.

It all started in 2010 when I attended my first Scrum Gathering in Orlando. The first day included a deep dive session for 4 or 5 hours. I luckily selected Lyssa Adkin’s session, and a whole new coaching journey began for me that day. After meeting Lyssa in this session, I found out she offered coaching circles telephonically. I signed up immediately. And this is what I discovered…

Six of us met with Lyssa via a teleconference. Usually evenings for me as most people were in the US. Lyssa welcomed us all, and quickly created a safe place for us to share our experiences and learn about new topics. Everyone on the call was at a different place in their agile journey, but all looking to improve ourselves and the environment we worked in. We met virtually, for 90 minutes in each session. Each call started with a welcome and checkin to see where we were on our personal and professional journey’s. Next was a discussion on a topic we had all voted on being important to us. Topics ranged from how to influence senior managers to how to deal with teams not keen on agile. We ended with personal intentions we set for ourselves to see us through to the next call.

The benefits I got from the calls were enormous. They are still with me 2 years later, and have shaped who I have become as a coach. What I remember vividly:

  • Getting different perspectives on my difficult situations at work, which opened my mind to new possibilities
  • Hearing about challenges other coaches were having and realising I was not alone
  • Being reminded to be kind to myself but also to take responsibility for my own journey and to take action when things were not working
  • Observing a master facilitator in action, and seeing how she created a safe space where we could share openly
  • Realising I could form deep connections with people I had never met – this genuinely surprised me

After the calls I was so inspired by the difference they had made in my life that I started the community circles through SUGSA. Now we are ready to evolve these to the next level with our coaching circles. One day I hope I will stumble upon a blog post a bit like this one, about how our coaching circles have influenced someone deeply 🙂