Leading with Coaching with Pete Behrens

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Keeping Agile Non-Denominational, Episode 24

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Alex Kudinov   Hello everyone and welcome to another episode of Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational podcast and we are your hosts today, Cherie Silas and I Alex Kudinov. Today we host Pete Behrens and he joins us from Colorado and apparently there was a lot of thunderstorms there. It was interesting to join Zoom and there was stormy weather. Hi, Pete. How are you?

Pete Behrens   Thank you, Alex and Cherie for letting me be here. Hopefully the thunderstorms aren't a sign of things to come in this podcast or maybe that's a good thing; we want that storm to happen.

Alex Kudinov   Well, I mean, change is probably loud and change is probably not comfortable. So maybe thunderstorms not such a bad thing. So why don't you introduce yourself to our listeners?

Pete Behrens   Yeah. Thank you very much. You might say I have three roles right now. I'm founder of the Agile Leadership Journey, which is a global community inspiring catalyzing leaders for growth and Agile ways of working. I'm a leadership catalyst myself and that means I'm sparking awareness and insight and developing leaders and their organizations but for me, that's a shift. I work through leaders, I often don't work with the organizations directly as a coach. Then finally, like you, I am a podcaster now and so we initiated a new podcast in 2021 called Relearning Leadership, where we're rethinking leadership and what does it look like in today's disruptive workplaces. So having fascinating time, sharing, connecting to stories and leaders and, in this particular podcast, we take real leadership challenges and combine it with coaches or other guides and experts in the world who can share and help us learn from those stories. So that's a bit about me right now but I would say in an arc, it's all about leadership.

Alex Kudinov   So relearn leadership, and it seems like we're constantly learning leadership. We start  mid-last century, there were big strides made there and America was in the forefront of leadership. Then it's 2021 and we're still learning leadership. What are some things that you see in that process of learning?

Pete Behrens   It's fascinating. You're right. If you go back, and I look at some of the fundamental shifts that occurred even in the 1930s and 40s, with the concept of Deming, and the power they gave to the employee back then, I think, is even today unheard of. They gave them the ability to stop an entire assembly plant with the pull of a cord; you don't see that kind of empowerment today. So you look at back in the past and I think you see these moments where it's like, "Oh, my gosh, that was significant power distribution and change." Many companies trying to copy that leadership style and what they did is they copied the practice but they didn't copy the empowerment; they didn't copy the gift of changing the dynamic of the leader and employee ratio and so a lot of those companies struggled. I see that happening today. You see, a lot of organizations say, "Yeah, we're Lean. We've Leaned out. We've got DevOps practices" or "We're doing things today that are much more adaptive." but yet, when it comes down to some of the constructs around even servant leadership -- let me just pick on that one for a second -- Servant leadership has been around for decades. Yet, the myth- if you ask anybody, "What is Servant-Leadership?" most people would say, "Well, you go to the verb 'serve'", I'm here to serve and that's true. The core of leadership is to serve but what they miss is, what's the other side of that? My service to the organization is to lead and all of a sudden, you start to rethink that and you say, "Wait a second", so what does that mean to lead? That means you have to be a little bit more assertive. So servant leadership truly isn't just being a doormat and doing what everybody wants and saying, "Hey, what do you need?" It's a dynamic power sharing mode but, again, those are things where we lose, I believe, the fundamentals behind them. We pick up on some key things, then all of a sudden it gets a myth or a bias and so it's even things like that that leaders need to be revisiting and rethinking, "What is our relationship to how we show up? What's our relationship to others that we're serving in organizations?"

Alex Kudinov   As you were talking about doormat, I was remembering like, 'Every Scrum Master is a servant leader. We bring coffee and we take notes.' Yeah, that's servant leadership. So I thought about Scrum Master and we keep saying that leadership should be shown at all levels in the organization. So and as we keep relearning this leadership, how in your mind, how in your experience it percolates organization from top to bottom or bottom to top?

Pete Behrens   Yeah, I love that question and we just did an all hands for one of our clients today and that question came up too like, "What's the role of leader?" You know, to poke in on your 'Scrum Master'. Think of that word Scrum Master. A lot of our Scrum Master trainers are challenging, "Is that the right word? Should we be using the word master when it combines with slave?" and those types of things need to be rethought in and of itself. Getting back to your question, leadership level, what we like to do is talk about the 'ship'; leader-ship. It's less the role of leader, it's the act of leading. It's the action, the behavior that's the most important and that shows up everywhere. That shows up in every one. So to us, everyone in the organization shapes culture. Everyone in the organization has the responsibility to serve. What am I bringing? What's my expertise? Am I a developer with design? Am I a tester, focusing on the quality aspects. Am I marketing, focusing on how the messaging comes across? We all lead. To give certain people the title, that's part of what we're needing to relearn. That title gets in our ways and the more titles we have in organizations-- we hand them out today like candy. "We can't give you a raise, we can't give you this but we can give you a new title. "You're head of X" and the more titles we give, the more disruption we're making in the workplace because 'now I can't do that until I have a title?' So that's one of the challenges we find is titles are something we need to relearn.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, so that you talked about culture and everyone shaping culture? That's interesting, and I agree, and then there's this other thing that comes in with do you do transformation from the bottom up, or the top down, or do you start in the middle? So it makes me wonder then, if we're going to change the culture of an organization, who determines what that culture is that we're shaping?

Pete Behrens   Yeah and this is one of the, I think, myths around servant leadership is, we don't have the capacity to tell people what to do. That's wrong. We just need to change what our vision is. So one of the things we want to think about is, "Alright, as leader, is my vision how we build something? Is my vision what we build? Is my vision who are we that's building this thing?" if we're building something, or servicing or whatever the role of our company is.  Now, the nuance between those three things, you'll notice, one is in the depths of the operations of what we do. The other is in more of the focus of what we do. The third one is more of the people and the culture. So when we talk about leadership, we talk about the fact that different leaders serve different parts of that organization. It's not that one is more or less important, it's just, as we're thinking about culture, there needs to be some leaders, and typically, the ones with more power in an organization have the ability to access those levers. What are the values we aspire to? This is where, I think, more and more, you're seeing large company CEOs be asked to take a stand on political issues; Black Lives Matter, or LGBTQ+ rights, voting rights in Georgia. You're seeing, "Okay, I'm the CEO of delta. I've got to take a stand on this? That's that's risky, that's dangerous." but that's also culture. That's values. What are we standing for?  We saw a year or two ago we saw Salesforce and the head of Salesforce, Marc Benioff, stand up for Indiana and say, 'If Indiana is going to put fairly draconian human rights laws on the books, we're going to pull out.' and this is where you're seeing corporate leaders not only talk about culture inside an organization, but now how is that culture shaping the world around us? Now I know everybody in an organization doesn't have that access but this is where I just want to illustrate the responsibility for culture. Yes, everyone shapes it but we shape it at different levels. Just to give you an illustration of this, a CEO, like Marc Benioff has a huge shadow, we call this a shadow. The culture is like a reflection of who we are but that Scrum Master, or that Director of Engineering, or that Manager of Operations, they have a shadow too. Their shadow is much smaller but we call it more acute; it's sharper. People leave a company because of their manager, not because of Marc Benioff. So everybody in the organization has a shadow. They impact people differently. What we talk about is, yes, senior leaders will create a broad shadow but it's fairly obtuse, and the local leaders create an acute shadow that impacts the people around them much more intensely.

Alex Kudinov   So it's interesting, as I'm hearing you talking about shadows, and I kind of think I know where you're going with that, but that I'm thinking of all these levels of management that are throwing off shadows, and when they intersect, it might be really dark right there. With all those shadows intersecting, what does the small guy do in all those shadows? They need a flashlight or something.

Pete Behrens   Yeah, they certainly have trouble seeing the sun, don't they?

Alex Kudinov   Right. So it's interesting, and we talked about as the titles, you brought in power. So in my mind, title does bring in power or title pulls in power. So I'm wondering why you separated leadership and title but not leadership and power?

Pete Behrens   Yeah. This is...I don't think we have the answers to this right now. What does it mean to separate title from power? I think right now, those are connected just as titles from salary. Titles and benefits and things are connected or interconnected. Titles and status, you think about, how do people show up and how do they feel about who they are, is tied to title. So yeah, it's a really good question, Alex, and one that I think we need to continue to explore, and one we're not going to get away from anytime soon. I think this is where, as we think about being a coach, and I know your audience is in this coaching realm, when I'm coaching leaders I often do not focus on title; I don't focus on power. I focus very personally. Who are you? How do you think? How do you show up? Regardless of your shadow, regardless of your influence, you have the ability to change who you are and when we get to shaping culture, and when we get to changing an organization, organizations are people; the only way an organization change is people change. So the more people change you can have the better, or more culture, change you're going to see in the organization. That's what it comes down to. It gets down to the, 'be the person you want to see change in the world, whatever that quote is, and that's really what it comes down to is, "Let's go to that leader. Who am I working with?" So if you're a coach working with a director, or working with a manager, or working with an architect, or working with the Senior VP, that's irrelevant, you can change, you can help shape, you can help catalyze change in that person.

Cherie Silas   So Pete, I know you do a lot of the work around Agile leadership, Certified Agile Leadership, but when I hear you talking here, this just simply sounds like leadership. So I mean, is there difference between leadership and Agile leadership or...?

Pete Behrens   Ding! Ding! Ding! Cherie you win the prize. People that come through our awareness workshops, we separate out training. We don't call it training, we call it awareness because that's what we're doing is creating new awareness. One of the key comments we get from leaders coming in, is like, "This isn't an Agile class, this was a leadership class." We're proud of that and that is a key differentiator. We see a lot of Agile Leadership in the world and a lot of it is teaching Agile to leaders, we don't find that very useful. You can go to a Scrum Master class. Go to a Product-- go to an Agile class to learn about Agile. We don't need a leadership class to teach people about Agile. We need leadership classes to teach leadership that enable Agile values. Transparency, collaboration, empowerment, diversity, inclusion, creativity. So what we're doing is we're connecting how you show up as a leader to the Agile values and I'll give you an example to make it a little more tangible.  Believe it or not, when I think about Agility, most people say it's like that dog. "Squirrel! Squirrel! Squirrel!" I can quickly adapt to my situation and I can do something but if you think about that dog, who's quite Agile, they're often not very smart. They're just following the shiny ball. So the other side of Agility that we talk about is mindful Agility. What is that? That's creativity. "Am I doing the right thing? Are we building the right thing? What is it we should be doing here? Is it yes or no or is it shades of gray?" So when I think about Agility of the mind, I'm thinking about, "Am I being creative enough to know where we should be going so that when we are Agile in movement, we're moving in the right direction?" That's a whole different form of Agility and so, as a leader, can I situationally be aware and adapt in the moment of a conversation and a decision? That's Agility. So we're bringing it down to its basics. The difference between agile as a practice, great, but Agility as a competency is totally different.

Cherie Silas   When I hear you talk about this, it really sounds a lot like strategic versus tactical, in many ways. What do you think about that?

Pete Behrens   Yeah, time horizon is a key aspect of self awareness of leaders. The way we talk about that is the time arc. So going from tactical to strategic to visionary are three different time horizons. They often reflect, "Okay, as a leader, where's my bias? Am I biased towards the near term? Am I biased towards the long term because-- in fact, we can have dysfunction on either side of that. Your'e biased to near term and every wave is like the sky is falling Chicken Little, but if you're biased to the long term, all those, "Hello, who's there? There's reality going on over here. I know, you're off in the 10 year vision but we have real problems. So being too aloof or being too reactive, again,  that's a difficulty. So what we talk about is, again, not that one is better than the other, what is my focus, what's my awareness of my time horizon, how much time am I spending in each one, and am I able to adapt as needed in situations that require it? So yeah, again, it's all about that awareness and then my adaptability in real time to be able to address those various time horizons.

Alex Kudinov   We started talking about the change, right? Change in the long term and change in the short term and I can't help keep thinking about this. Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that. So, in this world of the Red Queen, and Red Queen's race, and it seems like we're all there, what are the qualities that leaders have to bring to the table to run twice as fast as that to get somewhere?

Pete Behrens   Well, Alex, interesting question and I might challenge the question. The reason I would challenge the question is, it's kind of like is Agile just about going faster or is Agile doing more of the right thing, maybe at the same speed? I look at that with leadership too. A lot of people will come and say, "Okay, we're moving too fast" and one of the dangers of speed, one of the dangers of change, it threatens us, it puts adrenaline in our brain, it gets our heart rate going up, we narrow our focus on what we're doing. What that does for leaders is that pushes you into emergency leadership that puts you into reactionary leadership. Any form of threat -- and speed is one of those, competition, change -- is going to be a catalyst for reverting to probably a not as effective form of leadership. Now there's a time for that; you think of 9/11 and you think of COVID response. Emergency leadership has a place in chaos. The challenge is getting out of that leadership. This is where, I would argue, people like Giuliani did awesome in 9/11 response; wasn't real good once that was over. You see this a lot with leaders who did survive a pretty catastrophic emergency. So going back to your question, I would say, I don't want to run four times as fast. I don't think Scrum needs to be the 4x Jeff Sutherland talks about in the world. What I believe is, we're making better decisions, and we're choosing to do the right things more often. How do we know? Because we're testing those assumptions more quickly. You go to the fundamentals of Agile, we don't know more, we learn faster. So I think, to me, leadership today is less about what you know and it's more about how fast you're learning what you don't know. As long as you speed up your learning, I don't think you have to be 4x.

Alex Kudinov   Of course, that was a tricky question. So I want to segue a little bit into coaching and in coaching, one of the, not ICF core competencies, but competencies that great coaches bring to the table is to slow down; to take things slower, breathe, and to take a look at what's going on at slower speed, like in a slow mo, if you will. That's where you get that insight. That's where you get that awareness. So I want to contrast training and coaching and I know that you got out of training, kind of, and focused more coaching, focused more on leadership. So I'm curious what's in your mind the, maybe, juxtaposition or contrast between training impact and coaching impact, especially when it comes to leadership?

Pete Behrens   Yeah, yeah. Let me correct you a little bit Alex, I still train. I don't train Scrum anymore. I don't train Scrum Masters or Product Owners, I teach leadership. So, I call myself a catalyst because I think, as a catalyst, our job is to create awareness, and help develop. So I tend not to use words training and coaching as much as I enjoy awareness and then practice to get better. I think everybody can improve with better awareness and we don't even know what to practice until we're more aware. It's like, we've got to prioritize the backlog before we speed up. If we speed up first we're just going to build more of the wrong things. So what I'm looking for is I want to spark awareness as to, "What am I doing and how is that showing up?" Then the practice is that ability to apply that in real time.  So relating this to health, exercise. The same application is going to apply in leadership. If we're not doing it every day, it's not going to happen. If we don't have a lifestyle of what we call a reflective awareness or reflective practice, it's not going to happen. 90-something percent of what we do is default; it's habits. We've always done it this way and our brains are so powerful, and yet so limited, in that fashion that it's easy to go through your day, and come at the end of the day and your spouse asks you, "What did do you today?" "I don't know." You can't remember it. It's just default mode.  So that ability to hack into your default mode, the ability to then reflect in the real time and what you're getting there is critical. It's that deep breath. It's the setback. "Okay, what's happening right now, and how do I deal with this?" We call these choices. You've got 1000s and 1000s of choices every moment. Should I talk? Should I not? Should I ask a question or should I share? Should I do it now or do it in another minute? Should I sit up or should I sit back? I mean, think of every one of those as a decision but most of those are being done in default. So when we talk about leadership development, we have to create awareness to that. How am I showing up and how does that impact others? That's called self awareness, social awareness, and then situational adaptiveness. How do I respond in that moment? This is true for leaders and it's true for coaches. This is a universal gift or universal skill to be developed.

Alex Kudinov   As you're talking about that, I wasn't particularly sure you were talking about leadership or coaches because that was pretty much the same.

Cherie Silas   So it occurs to me that for someone to make these types of changes, they'd have to have humility, to accept feedback, and to accept that they need to change and a desire to change. So I can imagine that there's Agile coaches sitting out here listening, and even organizational coaches listening and saying, "Yeah, right and then we get there the managers and the leaders don't want to work with us." So how do you want to speak to them to help them to understand well, how do you get connected? How do you build that trust and create that bridge to be able to have the relationship that can withstand what they need to lead? Yeah.

Pete Behrens   You know, it's interesting, as I've worked my way, and I've been very fortunate in my career -- I've been at this as a trainer coach, you know, in the Agile space in different different places for 15/16 years now, but -- I was fortunate in two ways. One is, before I was a coach, I was a leader. So, you know, I started as an engineer but I was a tech lead, I was an engineering manager, I was a Director, I was a Senior Director, I was a VP; I had lots of leadership responsibility. One of the things that I know, just through my career of working with other leaders and working with coaches who struggle with that same. "How do I get access to the leader?" question. Can you relate to the leader? Have you walked their shoes? Unfortunately, a lot of coaches became coaches first and maybe haven't walked the shoes of what it's like to make that decision, what it's like to do the RIF, what it's like to have to decide between this strategy and this strategy. They're incredibly difficult decisions and there's a lot on the line. I look at this a little bit like somebody that wants to get a promotion, without having done the work. So it's hard to say, as a coach, how do you teach them that?  You don't. You've got to experience it. You've got to put yourself in those moments to know what that's like. This is one of the reasons I don't want to be a coach only; I don't want to be a trainer only. I'm running two different companies. I volunteer in organizations because I want to stay close to my customer. I want to know what that feels like. I got a 360 back a year ago and the feedback was like, sting. Ouch. Right? It was "Pete, we hired the COO." You know, in my mind, when I hired the COO, I asked for feedback. I said, "Hey, I think this could be a good person, give me some feedback." I got my 360 back and it was like "Pete, you asked for feedback, but your mind was made up." Why should I contribute to this, it was like, bam, 'Ouch, that that hurts but it's so true." I was convinced to hire her and I was asking for feedback how to fit her in but that wasn't clear. So this is where you know, when when I think about, "Now that's a story I can share. I can connect to a leader." I think what leaders are looking for in coaches is coaches who have that ability to connect and be able to walk side by side. Not I'm here to help you I'm here to fix you. I think a lot of coaches come in and they have -- they don't purposely do it but -- I think by their posture and questioning, they come out above the leader and leaders do not like that. Leaders want to walk hand in hand, they want to work through stuff. If all you do is ask questions and you connect at that level, you'll turn off those leaders.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, I agree. So this brings me to a conversation that Alex and I have had, often with other people, around the argument of, can you be an executive coach if you've never been an executive? Do you just have to know coaching? We stand on the side of you need to have been in leadership. You need to have been an executive to be able to do the coaching that they need, because you can't relate to a runner up. So it's nice to hear you bring that home to a place where maybe we can help Agile coaches to understand where they are and what they're doing. So thank you for that.

Pete Behrens   I would say that's true for most and I think that's good advice for most. You're always going to find exceptions where they can relate, they can connect, without having that experience. I remember, as an engineer, I would get frustrated with project managers that didn't get tech. It was like, "Come on, I got to explain all this stuff to you!?!?" You get frustrated with them but then you get one of those unique project managers who gets it but they've never done it. It's like, "Oh, okay..." So yeah, there's gonna be a few special coaches out there that could skip that track but for most of most of the world out there, great advice.

Alex Kudinov   Yeah. So it opens the whole Pandora's box of questions; a can of worms. The conversation is not only about leadership and executive coaching, the conversation is basically about coaching. Kind of the word on the street, kind of the populist vote is that, "Well, you need to have coaching skills" and kind of the counter arguments, for example, I heard, "Do you need to be gay to coach gay people?" "Do you need to be black to coach black people?" "Do you need to be Chinese to coach Chinese people?" and all that? So I'm wondering, is executive and leadership just the kind of category by itself, when it's useful to kind of at least have history? What is so special about executive and leadership coaching that basically separate it from all other maybe coaching styles/coaching approaches?

Pete Behrens   Yeah, you put a lot of landmines out there, Alex, I gotta be very careful to step into.

Alex Kudinov   The thing is that is the land we are walking on

Pete Behrens   Right? It is, and, and I am certainly not going to coach a black person around the concept of probably dealing with a lot of their racial injustice. Nor would I attempt to try to coach a female leader and be able to connect to a sense of what it's like to feel that double bind of, can't be assertive or you come out as bitchy, and how do you live in a male gendered leadership society. So, you know, if you're coaching leadership, I'm not, -- and this is where I believe all coaches have a bias. You know, we call it executive coach, we call it personal coaching, we call it Agile coaching, baseball coach, I don't care what you put. In fact my favorite podcast actually came from a basketball coach, and I think it was South Carolina, and it was a lesser known college.  I asked him about these boys and he says, "I'm a human coach that uses basketball as the lens to help build strong men." I thought that was just a beautiful statement that  these are black boys, trying to be men, and he's in the gym, teaching them how to respond when they get pulled over by a cop. This is a basketball coach.  Now, I'm not going to do that but this is, again, where we've got the responsibility. What's my job here? My job is for growth. My job is alertness, awareness development. I use a lens of Agility. So when people hire me, I've got a focal point, I've got a bias, just as basketball coach has a bias. We're going to learn basketball. That doesn't mean I only teach basketball. So I think every coach has a bias, they need to recognize that bias. They should be upfront with that bias. You didn't hire me here just to do whatever you want. All coaches should have a lens of...I can't think of can't think of the word here...but moral judgment. Beyond that you're asking me, you related to me, you connected to me, you pay for me, because you want my biased perspective. So yeah, if I'm being drawn into leadership coach, that's my bias. That's the thing I want to have some skin in the game.

Cherie Silas   So I want to pull you out of the deep water for just a little bit. I would just like to hear what have we not asked you that you would love to be able to just to say to coaches, to agile coaches, to leaders, to bring us to where we want to be?

Pete Behrens   Well, let me maybe start by talking to your audience; the coaches that might be mostly listening to this. Like servant leadership, I think coaching has a bias. Where most leaders in corporations are what we call over-assertive. They act too quickly. They talk too much. They they tell more than they ask. I think Agile coaches have a bias of over-accommodatedness. They ask too many questions. They don't share enough of themselves in their stories. They're too patient. They don't challenge the people that they're with. The coaches I've had, and I continue to get coaching and I find that to be an incredible blessing I can afford to do, and I tend to seek coaches that are willing to say, "Pete, let me tell you something I'm seeing. Pete let me share a different perspective. You say x, your body language says y" or "you say x and this is what I'm seeing." What I'm saying here is, I think coaches could improve by actually doing less coaching and doing a bit more challenging, and meeting leaders where they are. If you  go back to people like -- let's take Steve Ballmer at Microsoft, not a great track record as a senior executive at a company did some good things strategy, culturally, you know, a lot of difficulty. Steve Ballmer was incredibly confrontational but Steve Ballmer wanted you to confront him back. I just had a podcast episode with Dean Leffingwell.  Dean Leffingwell, from starting SAFe. Well, Dean and I go way back, I've worked two or three companies with Dean and had to work under him. That's the way Dean works. He thinks by debate but a lot of people take that as, "Oh, you're being disruptive. You're just telling people what to do." No, that's their thinking process and I think as coaches, we've got to recognize where leaders are, and maybe you've got to start to match their power. As you start to show that power, that could be respected by these leaders as well.

Cherie Silas   Yeah, so it's my turn to challenge you a little bit on your answer. So when I hear you say coaches need to stop or do less coaching, my response is actually, no, they need to do more coaching, because what you described is actually coaching.

Pete Behrens   Good point!

Cherie Silas   They need to stop asking so many questions and start doing what coaching is. So high support demands high challenge or you just...why are you even there? You're just babying them. You're their cheerleader. So I agree and let's get coaches doing real coaching.

Pete Behrens   I love the way you nuanced that language and it's exactly right. Yeah, I use the word coaching as the bias of asking too many questions. You're exactly right; effective coaching requires the balance.

Cherie Silas   So I heard you mention something a little bit earlier about that daily reflective practice. What that brings to mind is something that I've been in lately and trying to bring into the Agile world is the concept of coaching Supervision. It's kind of exactly what you're saying; it's having another thought partner. Whether it's a coach or a supervisor, to be able to look at me and the way I'm looking at my clients to make sure that I'm showing up in the most effective way for them, not just for me. How do you -- you've got a lot of coaches working for you -- how do you kind of manage that, ensuring that they are doing something to make sure that they're growing and they're showing up for their clients for the client's best interests and not their own?

Pete Behrens   You know, I tend to avoid as much as possible coaches working for me. I tend to engage a lot of coaches in relationships that I also have with clients. It's a really good question on accountability and something that I don't think we can fix or solve. Certainly pair coaching is wonderful, like you're doing here with a paired podcast. It's also incredibly expensive and time consuming. One of the things we look for is collaborative engagements and so whether or not we're teaching leaders let's go into small cohorts, learn together, and the guide is there as a navigator, a helper, but there's less one-on-one coaching. It's more maybe peer to peer, and then sometimes some advice, and then sometimes one on one, so we mix it up a lot.  The other thing we do is when we go more from awareness to practice, one of the things we try to do is we try to build multiple cohorts. So what we mean by this is, like, our public programs will have six, seven, or eight cohorts, and each of those cohorts is guided by a coach. So now you've got an ecosystem. So I'm there, overseeing a number of it. I pair myself with another one of our program coaches, Karen Kemerling, who oversees the other coaches. Maybe we dive into one of those cohorts and then we've got cohort guides. So what we try to do is we try to create a community of coaching and then we're helping each other out and we meet as a coaching team; we meet as cohorts. So, yeah, we're not always there, to see what's going on but we're hoping the ecosystem allows some of those things to emerge and we learn from. I'm not saying we're doing it right, I don't know that we're doing it great. If you have some ideas, I'd love to hear those as well but it's an important space. How do we develop as coaches and how do we improve our own trait other than the mistakes we make and learn from those?

Cherie Silas   Yeah and I think a lot of that is the willingness to self-reflect, right? It's not about me supervising or being the, 'I'm your boss', as a coach. It's about you saying, "Hey, I want a thought partner to look at the way I'm working with my client, with me, so that I can figure out what I might do differently and what might be getting in my own way.

Alex Kudinov   I don't know if you're doing right or wrong. It just sounds like a very fine balance walking that line between holding a candle and standing behind the shoulder and then just letting it loose and hoping kind of that everything will turn out. right. It's a fine balance. So this is probably one of the rarest podcasts that we are through, like 35-45 minutes by now and we haven't mentioned COVID, we haven't mentioned anything. So I'm going to mention it; it's still with us. So 2020 was...whatever it was. Hopefully right now we see the light at the end of the tunnel and hopefully that's not a train that's coming at us at full speed. I hear a lot of people hoping for travel, people hoping for meeting, people hoping to get back to the community. So what are you looking forward to for the rest of 2021?

Pete Behrens   I feel blessed to have received the first vaccine and just that, in of itself, is a relief; a light at the end of the tunnel. I know I'm pretty fortunate in terms of that right now. You know, one of the things that we're realizing is, while we have adapted to some degree, I think we've gone into hibernation from a creative perspective. Most creativity occurs in random bumpings, and gatherings, and these off sites where it's beer at dinner; we miss those things. We can listen to podcasts and we can have Zoom calls but these are all forced interactions; these are all structured interactions. We don't have those multi-linear discussions and random things happening in our world right now. So, what I'm looking forward to is being able to get back into those spaces where we can create more human connection with the work that we're doing. I solely miss that as a trainer, as just a partner with with other colleagues, as a coach with clients, as a learner in going to conferences and that ecosystem, so yeah, for me, it's mostly about rekindling that creative collaboration, the CO creative space, that needs a little bit more multi-linear dimensions to them than we get via these forced Zoom calls.

Alex Kudinov   That's a very beautiful word, rekindling. So we talked a lot about leadership and you focusing on leadership. So for those leaders -- and as we said it's from top to bottom, not titles, not powers -- for those who wants to get in touch, who wants to ask question, who wants anything from you, how do they get in touch?

Pete Behrens   Yeah, yeah. So there's a couple of things for people to do. The easiest one to start to see what we're about is to go visit relearningleadership.show. It's our podcast web page, where we've got all the episodes. We put a lot more behind them, the guest profiles, we put in some of our analysis and the stories and the transcripts and things. If there is an interest in more awareness, if there is an interest in some development, whether that's as a coach or a leader-- in fact my favorite classes have about a 50/50 balance leaders and coaches. It's fascinating when we teach those together. In fact, my very first time I taught a leadership class, I designed it that way to say, 'I want half the audience to be coaches because I want coaches to know what leaders are like. I want leaders to know what coaches are like and I find that to be fascinating. So the Agile Leadership Journey is there to attract both and we actually want both coming through this program and what that's like. We curate them into what we call guides but they need both. They need that leadership and that coaching element to be effective in our community. So if there are leaders out there wanting to do more coaching, or if there's coaches out there wanting to understand and connect to more leaders, I encourage them to visit us at agileleadershipjourney.com and inquire there on one of the programs we have on awareness of practice or just reach out and talk to us about what that journey is like.

Alex Kudinov   Well, Pete, thank you so much for coming and spending some time with us. I definitely hope for the lockdown to end sometime soon and rekindling or re-establishing connections and meeting you and others in person soon. This has been Tandem Coaching Academy's Keeping Agile Coaching Non-Denominational podcast and we have Pete Behrens with us. We're Alex Kudinov and Cherie Silas, your hosts. Bye now.

About Episode Guest

Pete Behrens

Pete Behrens guides leaders to transform themselves and their organizations toward agile ways of working and improved outcomes.

Pete is a Certified Agile Leadership (CAL) Educator, providing awareness (CAL 1) and practice (CAL 2) for improved leadership competency and value delivery. He has educated agile leaders since 2011 and developed the CAL Program for the Scrum Alliance in 2016.

Pete is a Certified Leadership Agility 360 Coach providing awareness, education and guidance for increasing impact and agility. He was certified as a Changewise 360 Leadership Agility Coach in 2009.

Pete is a thought leader, Certified Enterprise Coach (CEC) and a Certified Scrum Trainer (CST) engaging with organizations to improve team alignment and delivery. Pete was certified as a CST in 2006 and developed the CEC Program for the Scrum Alliance in 2007.

Pete is a Managing Partner of Trail Ridge, a co-creative coaching partnership building more adaptable, sustainable and healthier organizations. Their holistic framework-less approach guides leaders and organizations globally. He founded Trail Ridge in 2005.

Pete formed the Agile Leadership Journey, a collaborative community of agile leadership educators and guides who share a passion and focused curriculum to align global program design and delivery for clients across a global landscape. This team supports the Americas, Europe and APAC regions.

Pete served on the Scrum Alliance Board of Directors, providing strategic consulting and guidance to transforming the world of work. He speaks at Agile Conferences, Scrum Gatherings, Leadership Events, and Local User Groups across the globe. He served from 2016-2018.

When Pete isn’t visiting clients across the globe, he is probably biking or golfing near Boulder, CO.

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