A Guide to Appreciative Coaching and How it Can Benefit You

Remember in Star Wars, Yoda said “Do or do not, there is no try!” Famous words from Yoda to Luke in the Empire Strikes Back. Luke is training to become a member of the Jedi and Yoda is his coach. Here is the video of that interaction: https://youtu.be/p_tYQRP4QWM. If Like did not have Yoda as his coach, would he have been the Jedi that he became? You need a coach to guide you on your journey of becoming a cybersecurity professional.

The purpose of this article is to explain Appreciative Coaching, what it is, what is the appreciative coaching model, and the benefits of appreciative coaching.

What is Appreciative Coaching?

Appreciative coaching is a model of coaching that focuses on the best in people, their strengths, and the good they have done. It is different from traditional coaching models because it does not focus on weaknesses and problems.

Appreciative coaching has its roots in positive psychology, which is a branch of psychology that focuses on what makes people happy and successful.

The appreciative coach model was created by David Cooperrider who was an organizational psychologist at Case Western Reserve University. He developed this model to help businesses create more sustainable change in their organizations by focusing on what is going well instead of what\’s wrong.

What is the Appreciative Coaching model?

The Appreciative Coaching model is a coaching approach that helps people to find their strengths and to build on them.

This model is based on the idea that people have an innate drive to reach their potential and that they are not limited by past experiences. It\’s about believing in the person you are coaching and in their ability to change.

Appreciative Coaching is about taking a different approach to coaching, where the coach works with the client in order to help them understand and develop their strengths.

The following diagram shows the Appreciative Coaching model:

  • Definition (defining the coach-client relationship)
    • The purpose of the definition phase is to create a coaching framework to allow us to work together effectively.
  • Discovery (appreciating the best of what is)
    • The goal of the discovery phase is to appreciate the best of \”what is\”. I will be exploring reflective questions with you to help me understand you. Another goal is to assist you in discovering promising examples of your desired outcomes, both past, and present.
  • Dream (what might be)
    • The goal of the Dream phase is to co-create a provocative proposal of what might be. These proposals guide you in seeing your results and uncover your focus on direction going forward.
  • Design (what should be)
    • The goal of the design phase is to bring your dream into focus, affirm the reality of the dream, and support positive choices and actions.
  • Destiny (what will be)
    • The goal of the Destiny phase is to innovate \”what will be\”, to recognize your dream in the present, enable you to expand your capacity to create the dream and support you in achieving your dream.

From these phases, you will use SCRUM to develop a backlog of user stories which are tasks to be completed, and start planning the first Sprint.

What is SCRUM and how does it work?

The SCRUM is a project management methodology that was created by Jeff Sutherland. It is an agile approach to managing projects. We will adjust the SCRUM process for the appreciative coaching process I use.

Here is what the SCRUM process looks like:

Source: https://share365.cloud/nb/e-produkt/18-scrum

This methodology has four principles:

1) Continuous feedback from the coach and your peers

2) Working in iterations or sprints that are time-boxed usually 1-week increments instead of 2 weeks.

3) Meeting regularly for reflection and planning (the sprint review meeting)

4) Regularly reflecting on personal improvements (the sprint retrospective meeting).

The product backlog which we will call the learning backlog is a collection of user stories needed to get to your goals. A user story is a set of competencies and tasks to accomplish to get to your goals.

A sprint backlog is a collection of user stories you have committed to completing by the next meeting for the week\’s sprint. Our sprints will be 1 week apart. The potentially shippable product increment which we will call ready to work is when you have completed enough user stories to be ready to work for an employer in this case cybersecurity.

What Do Coaches Do in an Appreciative Coaching Session?

An appreciative coach is a coach that focuses on the positives in an individual or group. The coach wants to see what they can do to help the person or group get better, not just focus on the negatives. You are accountable to the coach and the coach will make sure you are making progress to your dreams and focus on yourself.

For my coaching sessions, I will use parts of the SCRUM methodology. A Sprint Review session may look like this:

  • A Weekly Standup
    • What have you completed since the last meeting?
    • What do you plan to complete by the next meeting?
    • What is getting in your way?
  • Sprint Review
    • Outcomes
    • What to do next?
    • Update Learning Backlog if needed
  • Sprint Retrospective
    • What went right?
    • What work is “done”?
    • What went wrong? How did you resolve the problems?
    • What adjustments do we need to make?
  • Sprint Planning
    • What are the goals for the next week?
    • Determine the tasks you will commit to doing for the next week from the learning backlog
    • How are you going to complete those tasks?

The Benefits of Appreciative Coaching

In this section, let\’s talk about some of the benefits of appreciative coaching. The main question is: \”why should I get it?\” One answer is that appreciative coaching sessions can help you learn skills to move forward. People love this type of coaching because it provides a practical way to live their lives more meaningfully.

Appreciative coaching sessions are a process in which a coach and a client work together to create positive change in the client’s life. The goal is to focus on what is working well, what the client values, and what they want to achieve.

The benefits of Appreciative Coaching are as follows:

  • Helps people develop skills they need for future success
  • Helps clients identify personal strengths and values
  • Increases self-confidence and self-esteem
  • Overcome problems more easily, leading to a happier and healthier life.
  • Find new ways to grow in a healthy way, instead of getting stuck in unhealthy patterns that lead nowhere.
  • Develop a sense of gratitude and appreciation for what you have – instead of focusing on what you don\’t have.


So, what are you waiting for? We all need a coach in our lives. You had coaches all growing up in sports and you also need a coach to break into cybersecurity and progress in the cybersecurity profession. I have been working with students since 1993 and I am proud of all the students that I have coached into positions. There are too many for me to count. Let me coach you too.

You might be interested in two other articles that I have written around this topic:

If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments.

Dr. M

Dr. M

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