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  • Writer's pictureLucy

The ICF just released their Team Coaching Competencies - why it matters if you're a Scrum Master

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

The International Coaching Federation has just released its much anticipated Team Coaching Competencies. Over the past few decades, organizations have slowly been shifting their focus from the question of how do we develop individuals to how do we develop our teams? The team has become the driver of organizational performance and as such, team coaching is now being recognized as an important intervention in supporting teams to align towards common goals, adapt to changing environments, to remain innovative and sustain high performance over time (1).

So what does all this mean for Agile practitioners and Scrum Masters?

You are already Team Coaches! While the future of Team Coaching is bright, in the broader organizational context, it is still considered a fledgling discipline. Yet in Agile Organizations, team coaching has been quietly going on right under our noses.

Take the Scrum Retrospective for example. As a Scrum Master, your role is to create an environment that fosters authentic dialogue between team members about what worked and what didn’t during the previous sprint. You work with the team as a single entity while recognizing that each individual voice must be heard. You support the team to surface underlying issues, work through conflict and design action plans to carry the team forward into future sprints.

This is team coaching.

Yet coaching - both at the individual level and the team level is an underdeveloped and underutilized skill among Agile professionals. The ICF’s new Team Coaching Competencies provide a blueprint for Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches to engage in team coaching with more confidence. It distinguishes team coaching from other modalities such as team building, facilitation, training, mentoring and consulting. While at the same time, it situates team coaching alongside these other modalities and recognizes that when working with teams, each modality has its role. In this way, there are parallels with the Eight Stances of a Scrum Master.

To us, the ICF Team Coaching Competencies open up new possibilities for Agile practitioners and Scrum Masters to enhance their coaching skills. They reposition coaching - not simply as a series of one-on-one conversations, but as a means of supporting teams to reach their potential as single entities - a space that Agile and Scrum professionals already naturally inhabit.

What you can do

  • Read more about the ICF’s new Team Coaching Competencies here

  • Check out the work of some pioneering team coaches including Jacqueline Peters, Catherine Carr, Peter Hawkins and Jennifer Britton.

  • Practice. It can be initially overwhelming to step into the role of team coach, particularly if consulting, training or facilitation are your comfort zones. Start with small steps - try asking the team a thought provoking question or two. Challenge yourself to step back to allow the team to engage in dialogue. Embrace not knowing what might happen next.

Further questions to ponder:

  • Can you think of times when your team(s) may have benefited from a team coaching stance?

  • What team coaching competencies do you already feel confident about?

  • Which of the team coaching competencies do you feel need some development?

  • What small steps can you take to adopt the stance of a team coach more often?


- International Coaching Federation (2020). Team Coaching Competencies. Found at:

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