Talent starts raw and must be shaped and honed. The more it grows, the more it requires objective input to remain adaptable, in touch and dynamic. Being coachable, or knowing you need outside advice, is vital to evolving and succeeding in the ever-changing business world.
We are exposed to coaching from various sources as a natural part of life, both in subtle and not-so-subtle ways. Are you missing it? In order to learn from these experiences, we must possess 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.
This foresight requires a readiness that must be present in any successful learning experience. We call this readiness being coachable. Someone who is coachable is open to seeing other perspectives without being threatened. 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 often means that their mind will remain open long enough to receive the feedback and run it by their internal threat meter (the Ego). Then, a quick risk assessment is performed to ascertain how much damage it poses to their internal belief systems and external image.
We all know someone like this, the ultimate workplace survivalist. This behavior is known as control-minded. They are prepared to hear what you have to say because it will remain in a controlled, mental waiting room while they decide the safest route to process (or eliminate) it.
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 in 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.
The good news is EQ is a set of skills and can be learned. Research from the Hay Group shows that people who improve their EQ have the following things in common:
- They don't bite off more than they can chew
- They are very clear about what the payoff for them will be if they change
- They are feedback junkies - they are tenacious about asking those around them for feedback
1. Do you determine the worth of feedback based on who is giving it or do you spend time considering the rationale behind the message?
2. Have you asked for feedback on yourself in the last month?
3. Do you partner with others to develop yourself or prefer to handle that privately?
4. When is the last time you publicly admitted you were wrong?
5. Do you have difficulty turning down your mental talk so you can actively listen to others?
6. When is the last time you apologized to someone at work for your behavior?
7. When faced with personal feedback, do you focus on staying superficial and ending the encounter as quickly as possible or do you open up about how you feel about the feedback and ask clarifying questions to gain understanding?
8. When is the last time you asked someone to hold you accountable for certain behavioral goals?
9. Do people feel safe coming to you with feedback you may not like? How do you know?
10. When it comes to your own performance, do you care more about appearances or real results? How would your staff answer that about you?
11. When is the last time you listened to a contrasting viewpoint about something you felt strongly about and ultimately changed your opinion?
12. Do you catch your own mixed messages or contradictions?
13. What are three areas you feel you would benefit from coaching? Ask your team to answer the same question about you and see how well you understand their perception of you.
14. Final and most important question: How often do you receive meaningful feedback from others? The amount of feedback you are given will be in direct proportion to the degree of coachability others see in you.
If you want to be credible, you must be coachable. Employees will not be open to feedback from someone who dishes it out but cannot take it in return. Leaders who are defensive and encourage an environment of celebrating only the successes will be rewarded with the same superficiality they embody.
Echoes or honesty? Artificial harmony or authentic relationships? Growth or status quo? You decide.
What if you are not coachable? What are you missing out on? What you don't know can hurt you.