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Agile Coaches' Corner shares practical concepts in an approachable way. It is for agile practitioners and business leaders seeking expert advice on improving the way they work to achieve their desired outcomes. If you have a topic you'd like discussed, email it to, or tweet it with #agilethoughtpodcast.

Jun 21, 2019

Joining Dan Neumann today is return guest — and his colleague at AgileThought — Sam Falco! Sam is an Agile Coach and Certified Scrum Professional with an extensive background leading Agile development teams.


In today’s episode, they will be discussing coaching around resistance. Sam began developing this topic a couple of years back when he had seen some books and articles about overcoming resistance and how to defeat resistance. It had always struck him as kind of psychologically violent, very prescriptive, and not too collaborative. When he thought about his own experiences with resistance both when he resisted some sort of change and his experiences coaching change — he discovered that it should not be thought as something to be overcome, but instead, as a useful red flag.


Sam further explains what coaching around resistance is, how to get people to talk about their emotions when they’re resistant, how to become an effective coach for leading changes or a transformation, and how to build the skills that are key to coaching around resistance. They also discuss the different levels of relationship that are important when coaching around resistance, the different types of inquiry you can apply in your coaching, and overall, what you should keep in mind while coaching.


Key Takeaways

What is resistance?

A natural reaction to an emotional process of adapting to difficult change

What is coaching around resistance?

It is when you act with empathy and help others to not overcome or defeat something but to work past what is blocking them

Treating the underlying cause rather than ignoring it or bandaging over it

How do you get people to talk about emotion (in regards to resistance)?

Use humble inquiry (which is asking for information in the least biased, least threatening way which helps to build trust)

Access your ignorance

Ask in a neutral way

Sam’s advice for being an effective coach for leading change or a transformation:

Consider the relationship you have with this person (the four levels of relationship that Edgar Schein identifies are: ‘minus one’ relationship, transactional relationship, personal relationship, or intimate relationship) with the goal being ‘personal’

Have honesty about the mutual problem or the experience that is happening

Honor commitments and promises

Find that level of comfort where you both trust each other to be open and truthful

Share information (which can help foster that personal relationship)

Use relationship/team building exercises such as The Line Journey or Personal Maps

Model the behavior you’re expecting from them

Build a rapport so they’re open, transparent, and willing to share the true challenges that they may have

Live by Scrum values (which helps to build the relationship to the right level)

Use humble inquiry to build trust

Use diagnostic inquiry, confrontational inquiry, and process-oriented inquiry at your discretion

How to coach around resistance:

Make sure to ask more questions

Leave more space for the other person to talk

Go beyond the mechanics; which includes the values of Scrum

How do you build these skills?

Start by trying them on/practicing with someone who you already have a good, trusting, personal relationship with


Mentioned in this Episode:

Sam Falco (LinkedIn)

Paul R. Lawrence

Flawless Consulting: A Guide to Getting Your Expertise Used, by Peter Block

Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling, by Edgar H. Schein

Humble Consulting: How to Provide Real Help Faster, by Edgar H. Schein

The Journey Line Exercise

Mind Map

Personal Map

Managing for Happiness: Games, Tools, and Practices to Motivate Any Team, by Jurgen Appelo

The Four Forms of Inquiry

Scrum Values

The Situation Behavior Impact Framework (SBI Model)
Agile Coaches’ Corner Ep. 27: “Deep Drive on Scrum Values with Sam Falco”

Nimble: A Coaching Guide for Responsive Facilitation, by Rebecca Sutherns


Sam Falco’s Book Pick:

The Professional Product Owner: Leveraging Scrum as a Competitive Advantage,
by Don McGreal and Ralph Jocham


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