Coaching lessons I learnt from watching a movie

I had watched the movie ‘The Legend of Bagger Vance’ long ago and forgotten about it until one of my fellow coaches reminded me of it. Now that I was an Agile coach for a while I thought it would be interesting to watch it again. It was really amazing and I thought I had to share my learning as a coach and here I am trying to put down some wisdom gained.

You can read about the movie here:

Make your presence felt

Well it is not to show off but to gain confidence in the coachee that you know something about the business. If coachee feels that you have no idea what he/she is doing, it will be very difficult to gain the confidence. You need to demonstrate some time that you do understand what is happening. This may even call for getting hands-on some times.

What I meant is a coach cannot be an expert in all areas but without experience in some relevant areas one cannot be a coach. Depending on the need and context it is important to gain the confidence of the coachee. And that is best done by being a role model and demonstrating in practice about expertise. I am not telling it is always needed.

In the movie, Bagger says he can be the caddie and when the expert player makes fun, he hits a shot to show he does understand the game. But after that he basically motivates him and energizes him to focus etc as a true coach and that brings out the best in the player.

Have patience to let the coachee take decisions, especially when coachee displays lot of confidence

Many times we see managers, Scrum Masters and others displaying a lot of confidence and taking decisions without consulting a coach. And you would know as a coach that they are taking the wrong decisions. In such situations a coachee would most likely be not open to listen to advice. These are the times a coach has to be very patient and allow coachee to go ahead and fail if needed. Just give a faint warning and watch the show! After couple of failures and sometimes more, you can be sure coachee would realize the need for help and approach you. That is when you need to show your capability to lead and not dictate.

Make coachee discover his/her strengths by self

Motivating talks and reminding the coachee about his/her strengths often increases the confidence and helps coachee to take the right decisions. As a coach I have found that this is the best thing that we can do. This reduces coachee’s dependence on a coach over a period of time. If we can help uncover the hidden capabilities it will naturally flourish and that would lead to a coachee discovering his/her natural talents.

Find the right time to disengage and allow coachee to excel

I do not think anyone would like to keep coaching someone forever. But sensing the right time to disengage is as important as understanding when someone needs to be coached. If a coach continues to coach even after a coachee has found the confidence, there is a chance that their confidence might reduce over a period of time. When coachee has demonstrated decision taking capability with the right approach few times, it is good to leave them to evolve by themselves. This makes a coachee a solid performer in future.

I have observed the above and maybe a few more in the movie. I have not given examples for these aspects as it is perhaps a topic for another day. In the meanwhile I encourage you to think of instances when you have encountered the above aspects and please do share your experiences and feedback.


What do you think?

2 Responses

  1. I have not seen the movie. However I liked the three points mentioned in the article, as a coach, it is very important to observe and follow those 3 points. Even though I have not see the movie, I can relate the senarios to many of the
    Indian mythological stories.
    1)Have patience and let the coachee takes the decision when he/she is displays confidence.
    2)Make coachee to discover his/her own strengths
    3) Find the right time to disengage and allow coachee to excel.

Leave a Reply

What to read next