Friday evening, exciting Hackathon started in Prague. I was part of the mentors’ team helping the participants to focus on implementing their solutions. After speaking with one of them, they come up with ideas and I was sure everything would be all right. Can you imagine my surprise when I come to them 40 minutes later and there were still discussing all the ideas.
I got curious about that. How was that possible? The team was literally stuck and unable to move forward?

Startups are a risky business, there is a high risk and eventually a high reword.
That is one of the reason that people gravitate towards startups, the other one is the fact that they will be part of an innovation idea that hopefully will have huge adoption.

Therefore, no one would want the team to be stuck and not focused on the most important thing, solving problems and generating user base and revenue.

Below I would explain my point of view, how a trained coach could help startup or in fact any business.

They create a non-judgmental environment!

One of my core principles as a coach is to express non-judgement to people and situations. It is a conscious choice to do so. This is very helpful for my clients in resolving their problems. I know that for many people this is one of the hardest thing to do.

We are naturally wired to judge and categorize people and things. Sometimes this ability blind us on possible easy conflict resolutions. Luckily this is quite easy for me since I had led a lot of diversity initiatives, I know that everyone is different and unique and this helps me a lot in my work.

In the situation that I explained before it could be easy to push the team to choose one thing and to start work on it, since they had less than 24 hours to complete that project, but instead of I choose to create an environment for an open dialog.

Coaches have to watch for what they don’t want to see and listen to what they don’t want to hear.

John Madden

They have an excellent active listening skill.

During my conversation with the team, I looked for the root cause of them being stuck in that phase. Encourage everyone to provide their point of view. At that point it become clear the root cause that one of the team member was sharing.

Now I know how to work with that team member and with the team to enable them to move forward.

Another useful skill is facilitation. I am working on Product Management and delivering Soft-Skill training session, by investing a lot of time in acquiring those skills.

From my experience lots of people, mainly managers, learn techniques about how to facilitate meetings, but failed in active listening. In my opinion, active listening, is equally important, because If people don’t feel listen to, they won’t contribute to any discussion and then the team or the company will lose valuable ideas and insights, because they will give up in even sharing them.
Have you ever felt in a meeting that no one cares about your point of view?

Having a coach could increase the productivity of your team, because they can spot such issues early on.

They will empower people to move on!

Do you have friends who always work on something and which they never finish?

I wholeheartedly believe that coach is not a person who the coachee should ask for advice. 

Of course there are exceptions of this rule! Maybe 10% of the conversation could initially be about the coach point of view.

And even in this case a good coach should ask for permission to do so. And there reason is simple. The coach should empower the individual to become a better version of themselves and not to promote dependency on them.That’s why when the client resolves their issue, the coach could either work on a different topic with them if they choose to or move on helping other people.


After my second visit, the team was ready to move on and start working on their amazing idea. I was happy with the team performance after that, because they were focused on implementing the idea and not being stuck with taking the first decision on what Idea to persuade.

A good coach can do a lot for your team or business. They will create Non-Judgmental environment which will enable the individual team members to be heard and to contribute actively. The coach can enable contribution by actively listening to the team members and empower people to move forward.

Are you curious about coaching and coaching topics, drop me a line and I will be happy to talk to you!

Aleks Vladimriov is a Senior Software Developer, recognized Project Manager and Soft-skilled trainer and a coach.

Aleks Vladimirov

Solution Engineering Manager at Thales | Senior IT Professional | Startup Mentor and Product Manager

Aleks is experienced Product Manager with an engineer background and over 10 years of experience as a software developer. He works with different governments and is responsible for negotiation features and requirements, understanding the customers’ needs and supporting the senior management with regular reports and analysis. He held various positions starting as a software developer, moving to a team leader and software architect.

He strives in waterfall and agile environment alike. He is certified Scrum Master and Prince2 Practitioner and he knows how to design business processes and help teams optimize their work.
During his tenure, he had to wear many hats, prioritizing business requirements, delegating work and mentoring team members, creating mockups with Balsamiq, providing MS Project plan to the senior management.

He had worked in many international teams, located in the same city or distributed in different countries and continents. He had been a team leader of cross functional international team of 8 people.

In his current position, he is very much client focused. He has excellent presentation skills.
He delivers training sessions on presentation skills and leadership and he had helped hundred of people to improve their presentation skills.

He is also interested in creating more positive changes in the workplace by using entrepreneurship skills.
He had won startup competition where his team had validated and develop a business idea from scratch.

In his free time, he writes in his blog about effective product development.

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