Getting Paid as an Agile Coach

An actual check I received for coaching! 🙂

Some questions come at the perfect time. I was asked in an email by an AgileScout reader how much Agile Coaches get paid. The context of the email and content was pretty focused on the potential for lots of $$$ that he could make.

I simply responded:

“If you want to coach because the money is good… look somewhere else. Coaching is an artform. It takes not only personal involvement, but also emotional involvement to do it well. Anyone can ‘consult.’ It takes more out of you to coach, and coach well. For me, I coach because I believe it’s a calling. I coach because I seriously love helping people reach their potential. I love seeing organizations flourish, not because they deliver more product faster (with quality)… but because I see the culture change to a more positive and productive environment.

Coach because you love it. If not. Move on.”

Coaching is a calling. What do you think?

14 Replies to “Getting Paid as an Agile Coach”

  1. Hmmm oversupply perhaps?

    But I would also be interested in hearing more about your comparison between consulting (which you say anyone can do) and coaching.

    Could you elaborate on that? Perhaps even dedicate a post to it if its an interesting enough topic. I think a lot of people confuse the two, or use one word for both.

  2. Helping people reach potential, that sums it up well. I would add helping organizations reach better results.

    Coaching is definitely a calling, not everybody it up for the challenge or in it for the right reasons. I love what I do, am passionate about helping others, and couldn’t think about doing anything else. For now, it’s my purpose in life.

    Big difference in my mind from consulting. Consulting is more about getting advice or direction for people to follow. Coaching is about getting people to have the capability of solving problems and creating solutions on their own.

  3. Beautiful, Peter. I agree. My goal is to become a coach at some point, and the reason I want to coach is precisely because I want to help people and teams reach their maximum potential. Because I see how freeing it is when teams don’t need to worry about hierarchy and command and control, and can focus on doing what they love.
    Hat-tip to you.

  4. Hi Hala,
    I can’t see how coaching will help you move away from a culture of hierarchy and command and control. Coaches don’t let their own agendas and biases decide what will happen. They assume that the team or org has chosen command and control for a reason, and will help the team get what THEY want instead, within their already chosen culture. They can facilitate changes already decided upon by the team, arising from their existing culture, but as I understand it a coach will not come in and tell some team they need to change their culture.

    And not just culture, a coach would not say “ok you need to do TDD” instead they would ask what the problems are. (That is the first problem, most teams just say “not enough time” or something. Often they truly don’t have problems but they could still be improved). A coach would then just ask questions until the team decides for themselves to try TDD, and then the coach could help with that. If the team even decides to do it.

    But if I am wrong I would be interested to know. I suspect the word coach gets used a lot when it isn’t appropriate.

    A consultant that doesn’t feel constrained by coaching would just come in and see people suffering without knowing it, and actually say this culture is a problem, and here are some ideas about how we can improve it.

    He can say to a team “ok I see you have no problems but time, but you can probably be even better by using TDD” (assuming he thinks they can, perhaps he sees the design going in a direction that would only cause problems in the future).

    I can see coaching as being useful for a lot of occasions. For example I understand they use the “don’t teach a man to fish” principle. They would rather teach someone how to come up with their own answers rather than just give the answers. For me this is essential when dealing with management, as agile etc are primarily values based and don’t come as a packaged product. But most of the time coaching will just facilitate the prevailing mindset. It is almost like the passive style of coaching is like single-loop learning, by simply facilitating the ideas that the existing management system comes up with, whereas a consultant that can come in and question rather than facilitate the ideas that the prevailing mindset leads to and can actually break companies free from that mindset, and make suggestions from a whole new mindset, kind of like double-loop learning.

    But I could be wrong.

    1. Hi Kurt –

      You bring up some really good points regarding the difference between coaching and consulting.

      I think Peter may be able to help us out here, but my assumption is that a coach is typically hired to help teams/organizations implement a framework they have chosen, in order to achieve a certain set of benefits.

      In the case of Agile Consulting, if a coach is going in to help implement Agile values and an Agile framework, I don’t see how culture change is not a by-product of that coaching. If the coach is going to ‘coach’ people towards a successful Agile implementation, I believe culture is part of that. Collaboration, teamwork, call it what you may, but I don’t see command-and-control as part of that culture (again, in a SUCCESSFUL implementation).

      That doesn’t mean there can’t be levels of management in that organization. Management doesn’t necessarily mean command and control.

      Thanks for the thought-provoking response!

  5. I watch the American women’s Olympic basketball team and I see Geno Auriemma as a model for coaching. No, he’s no angel, nor is he a consultant, what he does is teases out the best in his ladies, never letting them live behind excuses. He helps them achieve “great” individually and within teams.

    Yes, sometimes Geno sits on the sidelines with his hands to his head. He’s ticked, frustrated. Yes, he’s tough, some ladies have left to other coaches. But…before Auriemma, the Huskies had one winning season in their entire history.

    Isn’t coaching all about thinking of the best outcomes and doing what it takes to convince the coached they have have what it takes?

    Cheers, Karol

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