Monday, May 20, 2013

The Most Powerful Tool in Leadership - Coachability

We all have blind spots - behaviors we exhibit that are undermining our best intentions, harming our credibility, or damaging our relationships with others. Oft times, we learn about our blind spots through a harsh comment from another or in feedback that may not be tenderly given. It can hurt to hear, or come from an unexpected source, and be so far from our intent that it can sting like a literal slap in the face. Instead of the tempting response to reject the information outright, we must have the maturity and foresight to see these growth opportunities when they present themselves

Often, the best advice does not come from a certified coach or superior, but from more unexpected and informal sources like an employee, an exit interview, an overheard complaint, or collective body language in a meeting. Benefiting from this insight requires a readiness that must be present in any successful, self-directed learning experience.  I call this readiness being coachableSomeone who is coachable is open to seeing other perspectives without being threatened: they "get it". On the flip side, someone who is uncoachable is righteous in their convictions and rigid when exposed to input from others.  

Paradoxically we often hear the uncoachable describe themselves as being open-minded.  Translated, this means that their mind will remain open long enough to receive the feedback, run it by their internal threat meter (the EGO), and then ascertain how much damage it could do to their internal belief systems and external image. Being open to hearing what someone has to say is not the same as being willing to allow it to challenge and change you.  Ego driven activities such as self-preservation, rationalizing, and image control waste so much time, little attention is paid to the merit or value of the feedback itself.  The message gets lost beneath the thundering, chest pounding of the Ego. 

In contrast, someone who is truly coachable has set aside their Ego in order to raise their EQ.  Emotional Intelligence (EQ) is the must-have ingredient of coachability.  Competencies such as transparency, active listening, self-awareness, intuition, optimism and self-control are the bedrock of transformational learning and all stem from EQ. 

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