Storytelling is not Coaching

Posted by on Mar 2, 2017 in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

There are lots of kinds of conversations. Some are entertaining, some boring. Some are valuable, some make a difference. Some touch us deeply in our hearts, some fundamentally shift our perspective. Some fulfil our craving to be seen and heard, some sooth us, some meet our need for community and connection.

Coaching is a life-changing conversation. If it is not life-changing, it is not coaching.


Storytelling is what makes us human. Sharing stories around the campfire (or a modern replacement of that) is one of the most human things we can do. Sharing stories build trust, as this post beautifully illustrates. Giving someone a good listening to, let them enjoy our exquisite attention, is one of the greatest gifts we can give. And, listening is an important part of coaching.

Coaching: Shift their Perspective!

There are so many methods for a coaching conversation… and many opinions about all of them. It’s a complex, messy world – what works best for you, here, now, will be different from what works best for me, there, tomorrow. I guide myself in coaching conversations with a simple heuristic: Is the next thing I’m going to say (typically a question, but not always) aimed at increasing my knowledge, satisfying my curiosity, helping me to understand or solve the problem? All of that is ok, and none of that is coaching.

Coaching is an intervention that increases their understanding, gives them a surprising insight, lets them look at their life in a way they’ve never done before. That’s what shifts their perspective, gives them options, and makes coaching so valuable.

CEC Online Coaching Conversations

In the context of a ScrumAlliance online coaching experiment, the title of this post came up, and was highlighted in the end as an a-ha moment. That inspired me to write this post. Thank you!


  1. Andrea Chiou
    March 3, 2017

    Excellent succinct post on coaching. Not agile coaching, but coaching, even maybe ‘life’ coaching as per your definition. The definition is however incredibly handy (and needed) as a frame for our coaching in the agile space, if we are to make the orgs, teams less dependent on coaching over time…

    • Olaf Lewitz
      March 4, 2017

      Thanks for entering the conversation, Andrea!
      I strongly believe that agile coaching IS coaching. For years, I believed it’s some sort of “sometimes coaching, sometimes distorted, sometimes consulting” as I did not know better…
      Now I do.
      It’s about having a client centred attitude all the time. We can advise and train and listen and ask questions… all coming from a genuine place of being at their service. Or we can do any of that from a place of having an agenda (make them agile) which can be our own or yet someone else’s. And when ever we come with an agenda that’s not coaching.
      Thank you!


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