The other day when working with a few scrum masters I recognized how important coaching skills are to this profession. I know that coaching is important and I teach new scrum masters that they are the coach to the team. But, when working with these new scrum masters it brought to light that coaching skills aren’t something that we just know – they are learned on purpose.
When I ask people about their coaching skills they often point to allowing the team to be self organized and make their own decisions. They view coaching as asking questions that help people figure out the answers. I agree. Those are aspects of coaching that are very powerful for teams. But there is an underlying skill that cripples the ability to ask powerful questions if it isn’t first mastered. In order to ask powerful questions a scrum master must first learn to listen.
I am realizing that the most powerful coaching skill a scrum master can learn to master is listening. It is foundational to everything else.