I touched on this issue some time ago but, when it comes to leadership and professional development, the question doesn't go away. I continue to be approached by executives and entrepreneurs who insist they want to be coached. The reasons vary, but usually boil down to wanting to be more effective at building their business--or their piece of it.
There was a time when I took such people at their word.
That doesn't always work out. Real coaching--the kind that focuses on agreed-upon results--requires collaboration as well as certain accountabilities being met by each party. There are plenty of people who want me to invest my time, wave a magic wand, and make everything "better." I now suggest that they might be better served by a week at DisneyWorld and a souvenir packet of pixie dust from Tinkerbell.
Who Is Coachable?
Not everyone. Those who are uncoachable often think they have no performance issues and if there is one, believe everyone "out there" is the cause. In these cases, coaching isn't a very good option to produce positive results. It's kind of like one spouse dragging another to marriage counseling in the hope that the counselor can "fix" the partner. (Ever see how well that works?). The sticking point here is a mindset that doesn't allow someone to reflect on their own behavior, a desire to change it, and their personal responsibility for the relationship. So, forcing someone into a coaching relationship isn't the best organizational solution for certain issues and individuals.
Five Characteristics Of Coachability
If you are considering coaching someone else or being coached, here are five attributes I've observed in people who successfully "own" their part of the coaching process. You might want to use this as a quick diagnostic tool.
1. Committed to Change. Individuals who don't think they're perfect, want to improve, exhibit responsibility for their lives, and are willing to step outside of their comfort zones are good candidates for a successful coaching relationship.
2. Open to information about themselves. Be willing and able to listen and hear constructive criticism without being defensive; then, synthesize their coach's suggestions with their own personal reflections on the issue.
3. Open about themselves. Willing to engage in topics that may be uncomfortable but are getting in the way of their professional development; talks about "what's really going on" so the coach can have a complete and honest picture of the total situation.
4. Appreciate New Perspectives. People who get excited about hearing someone else's take on a situation and figure out how to learn from it can really benefit from coaching.
5. Awareness about one's self and others. Coachable people already have at least a fair amount of awareness about themselves. Equally important, they use it to reflect on their behavior and how it impacts other people in the range of situations that come their way.