Here is a 5-minute read.
Are you coachable?
The exciting thing about coaching is that you must trouble the comfortable and comfort the troubled, says Ric Charlesworth, former Australian national women’s field hockey coach. But what if the student is not coachable?
I am involved in many companies’ mentoring programs; I am also into coaching. People assigned to me are usually senior executives and decision-makers, so there is an extremely high level of professionalism, maturity, and respect. Hence, it makes coaching a lot more pleasant and effective. But not everyone has the same experience. When managers are asked to coach their direct reports, they either sense a lot of resistance or their efforts cause them stress and desperation, and the person who is difficult to coach misses out on opportunities to learn and to improve.
Someone who is coachable is open to both instruction and correction. Instruction involves learning within the company system. As the student, you may do it differently or better with the coach’s permission, but you need to do it their way. Being coachable also means having the humility to let colleagues (sometimes your juniors) or your leaders teach you. Now we go to the challenges and dynamics of coaching, which involves correction. Perhaps you are doing some things that need to stop or require adjustments. Someone who is coachable takes this opportunity to learn. The person who is difficult to change will always be defensive and refuse correction. They take the correction as the coach picking on him and making him feel inferior. A modern-day term usually comes from the younger millennials or Generation Z would be, “My coach is so judgmental, and she keeps on “judging me.”
Sometimes correction comes with a carrot, like the persuasive and inspiring approach involving the patient explaining the cost and benefits of the correction. Other times change comes, and correction happens when a stick is applied. A typical example is an unruly manager who bullies and disrespects people to achieve their objectives. When the coach comes and addresses the offensive student and refuses to change, the coach now says: “I know you are good with your job, but if you don’t stop running over people, you’re out.” Many stubborn students would get the message and heed the correction. Others may refuse and quit their jobs. In my years of leadership development training, the result of the offensive person leaving may be welcome news to everyone and provide the opportunity for others to step up.
Promotions require learning new skills, dealing with new processes, and making mistakes you have never made before. Instruction and correction are essential ingredients you will have to take in the process. Receiving instructions deal significantly with the cognitive process of the mind and receiving corrections involves plenty of emotions from the heart. The coachable person understands that emotions expressed by the coaches are not meant to offend or belittle; they are just part of the job and the improvement process. The leader coach who cares invests a lot more emotions into the coaching process because the coach wants you to succeed and improve.
Sometimes coaches are passionate but do not possess the skills of effective communication. The coachable person understands this, looks beyond the communication deficiency, and focuses on the areas that need improvement and correction. It’s up to us to respond. Always respond with grace and gratitude to every instruction received and correction administered. When you feel the heat of that familiar emotion of anger begin to rise from the gut to your mouth, give yourself 90 seconds before you say a word.
When we are corrected, we feel exposed and vulnerable, and the immediate default reaction is to defend or shut off the ears and the mind and refuses to accept it. But the coachable person knows that this temporary pain when heeded and corrected, would lead to long-term gains.
You and I know that some leaders are better at correction than others, and we may have our bouts with toxic leaders who say they are “coaching” us but are ego-tripping and bullying people. But still, it’s not about them; it’s all about how we respond to them. And now that we are coachable, we learn the lesson NOT to be like them when it is our time to coach others. Now that is an instruction and a correction that is precious for us to learn.
(Attend the highly acclaimed Level Up Leadership 2.0 online last run for the year on Nov 16-18. For inquiries and reservations, contact April at +63928-559-1798 or and for more information, visit www.levelupleadership.ph)