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Who is who? Agile Coach or ICF Coach-EN

Picture of Luís Hernández Sánchez

Luís Hernández Sánchez

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Let’s start a game, remember the classic “Who’s Who”? I start by describing a person or a profile and you have to guess. No research or asking the AI.

Who is who? Agile Coach or ICF Coach | Illustration by Andy Baraja

Guess the following profile:

  • Person dedicated to personal development.
  • Accompanies individuals and teams through coaching in processes of transformation and change management.
  • Possesses skills and competencies related to active listening, observation and asking powerful questions that enable change.
  • Knows tools and techniques that he/she uses skillfully to achieve the client’s objectives.
  • Facilitates collaborative spaces to drive agility and continuous adaptation.

Which profile is it? Did you get it right? I recognize that I have not made it easy and at the same time I can say that the current context with so much ambiguous information does not make it easy, especially with concepts such as coaching, organizational transformation, change management and agility.

With this description you could have approached two profiles that have recently experienced a great demand and the great impact they have on the transformation of companies, I will explore the Agile Coach and the Coach ICF (International Coaching Federation).

Who is who?

An Agile Coach is a person who accompanies individuals, teams and organizations to implement “agility”. This is done through different knowledge and skills such as facilitation, mentoring, business vision, coaching (hence the name), among others. To learn more about this profile do not miss this great article.

Who is who? Agile Coach or ICF Coach | Illustration by Andy Baraja

An ICF Coach (the most recognized international coaching framework) is a person who “partners with clients in a reflective and creative coaching process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. “1 By adhering to the ICF framework, he/she commits to the ICF’s framework of core competencies and adheres to its code of ethics.2

With these definitions we can have more clarity on both profiles, but only from a theoretical point of view. The reality is that, in the performance of the role and its application, there is confusion and their approaches are not well understood. This generates confusion in the companies that request their services or those who wish to develop based on these profiles.

There are people who defend a certain role more than another because they come from a context of agility or from a context of psychology or coaching, and not because they have a global vision of both. For this reason I hope to enlighten by explaining the elements in common and in which they differ.

Common elements:

  • They work individually or in teams (there is an incorrect idea that the Agile Coach only works for teams and the ICF Coach only works individually).
  • They use the technique of powerful and enabling questions to boost people’s development, hence they are called “coaches”.
  • They perform similar dynamics in which the focus, depth and reflection spaces used vary.
  • They need to develop competencies such as active listening, systemic observation, empathy, visualization, communication, etc.
  • In both there are their schools and specific approaches, such as the systemic one, in which they observe and analyze reality as a system).
  • For your professional development you have to develop yourself personally to change your mindset in order to be able to bring a new approach.

Divergent elements:

The Agile Coach:

Who is who? Agile Coach or ICF Coach | Illustration by Andy Baraja
  • Works in the context of agile methodologies with a focus on team and organizational development.
  • Being in this context, he is required to have knowledge and experience in this sector, to bring real changes in the organization and the business.
  • Their activity is focused on facilitating, mentoring, coaching, advising and training to help teams meet organizational objectives.
  • In the case of coaching, its focus is on helping to release obstacles or find new solutions always in the work context. It lacks the confidential framework of the ICF coach.
  • They are involved in organizational change processes, which requires them to have the skills to manage it and overcome the resistance that arises.
  • Their mindset is more related to new ways of collaborating, to a new vision of work, to boosting people in the workplace, etc.

The coach (ICF):

  • It works in any context (including agility) by conducting individual or group coaching sessions to work on the objectives set by individuals or teams.
  • For this reason, the expertise required is in properly conducting coaching processes and not in working in a specific sector.
  • By working in this way, the impact it generates is focused on individual growth and development of the teams and in turn they in turn in the organization.
  • Coaching is done from a specific confidential framework. Therefore, from the beginning, the difference between the sponsor and the coacheé is clearly defined with the client. The sponsor will perform or request the service, while the coacheé will define the objectives of the session. This means that the ICF coach cannot share the content seen in the sessions, but the coacheé will be the one to communicate the progress.
  • Thanks to this, professional and personal aspects can easily be addressed, which will have a positive impact on the organization.
  • Its mindset is based on the premise that the coachee is the greatest expert in his or her life and believes that he or she is a creative being, complete and full of resources to solve the challenges he or she faces.

Discover differences to enhance impact

In recent years, both agility and coaching have led the development and growth of organizations in various sectors, especially because of the great impact they have on people. I recommend the following article to learn more about the reasons for using coaching.

Knowing in detail these two key roles will allow you to analyze their need, define the right people for each of them, evaluate their impact and create transformation itineraries in line with the organization’s strategy. There is no one role that is better than the other, but they respond to different problems.

With all that said, I want to clarify that they are not really exclusive profiles, but that the same person can perform both. I say this because it is common that when both have the word “coach” it is assumed that with a course or a certification you can successfully perform the other role.


Who is who? Agile Coach or ICF Coach | Illustration by Andy Baraja

I like to think that the transformation of organizations is like a big dance event, where we participate with a common goal, which is to have fun dancing, in a constant movement (change). Within this great event there are different roles, one that we have just seen is dedicated from the stage to encourage and inspire people, play music and motivate properly. On the other hand, the other role that we explained is dedicated to interact with people and allow them to discover that music is lived from within.

By the way, what role and profile do you want to be in this dance?

At Netmind, we believe that true transformation is made from people and for people, so we believe that both roles provide irreplaceable value to make the dance to the rhythm of the music harmonious (and fun).

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Sobre el autor

Picture of Luís Hernández Sánchez

Luís Hernández Sánchez

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