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Agile & Professional Coaching – There’s No Difference, Right?

Are you finding it finding it difficult to distinguish between professional and agile coaching?

We all do at some point, that’s why we have written this short guide to make it easier for you.

The role of any change agent should be to help their client navigate problems, taking them from point A, where their company is not working as effectively as they wish, to point B, where their business is functioning well with happy, committed teams. However, agile and professional coaching do this in very different ways.

What is a Professional Coach?

A professional coach has a set of well-defined ethical expert guidelines that they will use to help their client understand and work through their issues. They have a well-articulated and researched body of knowledge to call upon to help break down their client’s problems or even help them to recognise what they are.

A professional coach is not a mentor, a teacher, or a consultant. They won’t give their client any of the necessary answers, but they’ll work with them to find what they are for themselves. The client is accountable for their own problems, decisions, and solutions, delving deep into their personal and business life with their professional coach to help work out the right path for them.

What is an Agile Coach?

An agile coach is almost the opposite. There is no strict framework or one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, the best agile coaches will draw on their own experiences to fill in the gaps. Rather than gently encouraging a leader to make their own decisions, an agile coach reserves the right to advise what they or others have found works and what doesn’t, so they can see results fast. Of course, the final decision always lies with the client.

As an agile coach, you’ll be a mentor, a teacher, a trainer, and a facilitator of teams and individuals throughout an organisation. Your attention will be on the company as a whole, helping to unify the management, employees, and disconnected teams to ensure everyone is working towards the same shared business goals.

The Agile Manifesto

To do agile coaching well, you must place yourself as a role model for your clients, focusing on the values of the agile manifesto. These are:

  • Individuals and interactions: Nurturing relationships and bringing a human element to a business is more important than your client’s choice of processes and tools.
  • Working software: Not just software, but any product should make life easier and not be an excuse for more paperwork and stress.
  • Customer collaboration: A great customer relationship is vital, so your client can spend less time on contract negotiation and more time creating market-disrupting ideas.
  • Responding to change: A flexible business can weather economic downturns with ease, so rigid plans are out!

To be an agile coach, you still need to have a good understanding of professional coaching principles. Equally, the best professional coaches will have an agile slant to their offering. Being a coach of either discipline requires a knowledge of both. In all scenarios, the client should feel safe and able to express themselves clearly and honestly to make the best progress.

ICAgile Coaching Course

ICAgile Certified Team Coach


Whatever kind of agile coach you decide you’d like to be, you will need to start by learning about the competencies and mindset of a coach so that you don’t just go through the motions of the role but truly encompass your position. 

We will teach you what works in coaching and what doesn’t, drawing on our extensive experience to bring you this certification, focusing on professional practices with an agile twist. You might even make new friends and experience what it’s like to be on the other side of the coaching table!

You can find our ICAgile Coaching Course here. Sign up early, and you’ll receive the early-bird price for our online course. Our certified agile coach training will give you the structure you need to advance your agile coaching career.