Recently, while leading a Performance Mindset discussion, someone brought up a Mindset skill that is rarely brought up in our discussions. While curiosity, having a growth/learning mindset, and even openness often come up, the specific skill of being coachable doesn’t. In hindsight this is fascinating because when I reflect on the skill of being coachable, it is probably one of the most critical skills that needs developing in all of us.
I remember when I was a training captain in the fire department and we were starting a new recruit class, the first thing we would look for was a willingness to be coached. Our attitude was that we could teach anyone who had made it through our rigorous selection process everything they needed to learn if they brought one key element with them. That element was that they wanted to be coached, they were eager to be coached, and they made it fun to coach them. This same thing is true as I’ve coached hundreds of top executives and other high performers around the world.
What makes someone coachable? First, they have to be willing to drop their fear of making a mistake, of looking foolish, of admitting they have more to learn, and of trying something they may not have tried before. Second, they have to be comfortable (or at least willing) to ask for help. I have found this to be a real challenge for many people. Asking for help requires being willing to be vulnerable, it requires a self-awareness to recognize where the opportunities for improvement exist, and it requires the ability to concisely communicate what they need and how someone else could help. You don’t always get 100% of what you ask for but you do get 0% of what you don’t ask for. I have found that there are many amazing people out their who can help us but until we ask, they can’t. The third thing it takes is ownership and responsibility. Coaches are catalysts; they are not magicians. You bring the talent, the brilliance, and the capacity for greatness - the coach helps you ignite it. This means you have to own the effort you put in, the choices you make, and the advice you choose to implement. Finally, being coachable requires discipline. This means that you do what you say you’re going to do so you can actually determine what will work and what won’t work for you. Great coaches aren’t married to the advice they give; they are actually married to helping you achieve the results you said you wanted. If you don’t apply the advice with discipline, how can we jointly figure out what will work best for you specifically?
There are very few things that one size fits all. This is why coaching can be so valuable to help you put together your own unique Sustainable High Performance puzzle. The funny thing is that all of us will be coaches and will need coaching at different times in our lives. Learning how to be more coachable is a great skill to develop.
As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.
Founder/Chief Performance Officer