How To Be Coachable: 9 Tips to Improve Coachability & Make the Most of Your Leadership Coaching Engagement
Coachability refers to the willingness to improve and the ability to accept feedback as what it is meant to be - constructive criticism.
When you've hit a performance plateau in your career, are failing to lead your team effectively, or are struggling in business - leadership coaching can help you shift gears and get you back on course.
The key, however, is being coachable and allowing a coach to help you.
It's a natural instinct to become defensive when we are critiqued, perhaps even develop a negative attitude when you feel someone is "criticizing" you.
When an executive coach or leadership coach presents you with feedback it's not to attack you or tear you down - it's to help you gain awareness, refocus goals, and provide a little extra motivation based on the excitement of seeing a new, more clear path to what you have defined as "success".
These nine tips below can help you be more coachable, improve your willingness to learn, unlock the next level of your career, and help you attain the heights of the most successful people in your industry, all while meeting all of your business and life goals.
1. Listen to the Coach
The first step in becoming more open to coaching is - to actually listen to what your coach says.
This is one of the most difficult things you'll have to do, but it's critical if you want to achieve the next level of success.
When your coach offers advice or points out a mistake, don't take it personally. Keep in mind that failure can actually create success, and this is what the coach is trying to help you achieve.
Listen to the advice provided by your coach and apply that advice to your business just like an athlete would apply it to their game.
2. Remember the Coach Wants The Best For You
The main purpose of any coach, whether coaching athletes, business leaders, or employees, is to help whoever they're coaching break barriers and achieve new heights.
Your coach is there to provide you with the feedback you need to be successful in the face of challenges, help you see situations through a different lens, apply new systems, and keep you from the pitfalls of old habits.
To be more coachable, remember that when you succeed - the coach succeeds. It's really that simple.
3. Ask Questions
When provided constructive criticism, ask questions. Don’t do it defensively or in anger, but clarify with the person providing the information what they mean just to be sure you understand it.
Coaches can provide you with specific details on why you are failing as well as the mechanics for adjustment moving forward.
4. Don’t Make Excuses
Another natural instinct when hearing something negative about yourself is to make excuses.
You may think the issue was the fault of other employees or perhaps because the company “has always done it that way.”
Instead of instantly trying to explain why you did what you did, focus on hearing the message you are being given.
Being coachable requires 100% accountability. Excuses are an attempt to pass the buck.
5. Check your Ego
Nothing hinders coachability like ego.
In the business world, if you've been in an industry for a considerable amount of time it's natural to develop confidence in the way you do things.
Ego may prevent you from admitting lack of up-to-date knowledge, flawed processes, blind spots, or recognizing an evolved landscape.
Industries change. Processes change. If your ego gets in the way of recognizing these changes, you could find yourself left behind.
6. Be Willing to Learn from More Experienced People
When you work with coaches, you're seeking the advice of those who are more experienced than you in some area.
In business, just as it is in a sport, coaching is designed to take you out of your comfort zone, provide you with skills you may not have or didn’t know you had, and push you on a path to greater success.
7. Seek Constructive Criticism on Your Own
The fact is - no one has all the answers.
Especially when it comes to growth, leadership & success.
But an important factor of coachability, personal growth & professional success is learning to seek assistance on your own.
Seeking constructive criticism and leveraging guidance from more experienced professionals who are where you want to demonstrate you're willing to learn and that leadership development is important to you.
8. Be Gracious and Humble
Being coachable means you're grateful for the chance to improve.
Even if you don’t agree with their advice - thank them for the time they took to provide you with new tools and be humble enough to realize that they may actually be correct.
9. Change Your Behavior
Pretending you agree with coaches in order to stop a critique is a common way that leaders sabotage their coachability, progression, and hinder long-term career success potential.
Attitude is a key factor in the process of changing behaviors, improving your professional life, and advancing your career.
Being coachable means you must be open-minded, committed to a growth mindset, and dedicated to breaking old habits and making lasting changes in your behavior.
Even if you've gone head-to-head, when you apply what your coaches have told you and you start seeing success, it's important to let them know you appreciate the hard work they put in.
10 Signs Of Coachability
If you have the right attitude and the ability to learn new things, being coachable will come easy to you. Some signs that you are coachable or have become more coachable can include:
- You are open with others
- You show support to your team members, or "other players"
- You are willing to put your ego aside
- You have a growth mindset
- You celebrate solid results
- You take steps towards transparency and openness
- You compliment the ability of others
- You listen to coaches actively try to be coachable
- You don't take things personally
- You are always focused on progress
14 Coachability Red Flags
Contrary to the 10 points above, these 14 red flags can indicate if you are resistant to coaching, lacking coachability, and potentially sabotaging career growth:
- You talk more than you listen
- You never ask for feedback from other people
- You think that you know it all and never ask for help
- You dispute/seek proof as to why the constructive feedback you receive is wrong
- You tend to reject other people's ideas
- You can't accept criticism
- You don't have a growth mindset
- You aren't open to change
- Your attitude is usually negative
- You constantly see yourself as the victim in situations
- You always have a defensive reaction
- You don't recognize contributors when they deserve it
- You have feedback phobia
- You avoid challenges
Why Being Coachable Matters
Being coachable is one of the most important traits of successful leaders.
Being coachable is about realizing your continued success requires being open to learning from others, confronting uncomfortable truths, working hard, and amplifying your performance.
The smartest, highest-achieving professionals see themselves as an evolving work in progress and look to coaches that have the knowledge to help them level up faster and break through the barriers that every leader faces at different stages in their career.
Phil Jackson, the most successful NBA coach in history who won eleven NBA championships and coached superstars like Michael Jordan & Kobe said “Good teams become great ones when the members trust each other enough to surrender the Me for the We.”
When you focus on being coachable and trade the "me" for "we" you'll level up your leadership skills, boost team productivity, and increase overall company effectiveness, improving not only morale but the bottom line as well.