The Ways Leaders Become Coachable | WealthWave
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The Ways Leaders Become Coachable

June 12, 2024

"I never lose. I either win or learn.”

- Nelson Mandela

In today's fast-paced world, our workplaces face constant disruption, creating stress within teams. This stress often amplifies resistance to change, making it harder for organizations to adapt and thrive. However, what we need now is greater agility and resilience to navigate these  challenges. The question arises: Why is becoming coachable a critical leadership competency, especially in such turbulent times?

Being coachable means being open to feedback, willing to learn, and ready to adapt. It involves recognizing that we don't have all the answers and being receptive to new ideas and approaches. In an era where change is the only constant, leaders who embrace coachability can inspire their teams to innovate, stay motivated, and maintain a forward-thinking mindset. Developing this competency not only enhances individual growth but also fosters a culture of continuous improvement within the organization.

In a disruptive business environment, the ability to adapt, grow, and thrive amidst change is essential. The most successful leaders are agile learners who can continuously evolve and transform in response to new challenges. These are the qualities of a coachable leader, someone who embraces learning and development as an ongoing journey. By leveraging the perspective of a coach or utilizing resources like the book Becoming Coachable, leaders can gain deeper self-awareness, accept constructive feedback with an open mind, and build new skills that are crucial for their growth. This process not only enhances their professional capabilities but also strengthens their emotional intelligence, enabling them to lead with more empathy and humanity.

Ultimately, such qualities create a greater impact within their organizations, fostering a healthier, more dynamic, and productive work culture. Becoming coachable is not just a nice-to-have trait; it is a core competency that unlocks a leader's full potential. It empowers them to navigate complex business landscapes, inspire their teams, and drive sustained success. In a world where change is the only constant, the ability to be coachable allows leaders to flourish and set an example for others to follow. Embracing this mindset of continuous improvement and openness to new ideas and perspectives is what truly sets exceptional leaders apart from the rest.

The Biggest Barriers to Becoming Coachable

The success of a coaching engagement heavily depends on how coachable the leader is. Even the best coach in the world cannot succeed if the leader is unwilling to be coached. To become coachable, a leader must be open to four key things: change, feedback, taking action, and being held accountable. Doubts and hesitations are normal, but a willingness to suspend doubt and accept change, outside perspectives, and the coaching process is crucial. With a coach's support, this becomes easier. The journey to becoming coachable is often gradual and involves a commitment to personal growth and self-improvement.

Several potential barriers to becoming coachable need self-examination. Common challenges include defensiveness, ego, and a fixed mindset. Some leaders fear that seeking a coach signals failure or weakness. They might worry about how it will be perceived by their peers or subordinates, thinking it could undermine their authority or credibility. Others mistakenly believe they have nothing left to learn, thinking their current skills will suffice for future success. This stagnation can be detrimental in a rapidly changing business environment where adaptability is key.

Leaders who believe they have all the answers or that their abilities are innate may lack the humility and vulnerability required in a coaching relationship. They might resist new ideas and perspectives, clinging to established methods that have worked in the past. As Albert Einstein once said, "The measure of intelligence is the ability to change." Letting go of the need to be right and embracing humility are essential, albeit challenging, first steps toward becoming coachable. This shift in mindset paves the way for continuous learning and development, ultimately leading to more effective leadership and better organizational outcomes.

Furthermore, being coachable involves actively seeking and valuing feedback, not just from the coach but from all levels within the organization. This openness to feedback can create a culture of continuous improvement where everyone feels empowered to contribute ideas and solutions. Taking action on the feedback received is equally important, as it demonstrates a commitment to making meaningful changes. Being held accountable ensures that these actions lead to tangible results, fostering a sense of responsibility and ownership.

Becoming coachable is an ongoing process that requires self-awareness, humility, and a genuine desire to evolve. By overcoming the barriers of defensiveness, ego, and a fixed mindset, leaders can unlock their full potential and drive their organizations toward sustained success.

Essential Practices for Becoming More Coachable

The observation of many coaching engagements highlights four key areas that make up coachability: being open to change, accepting feedback, taking action, and being held accountable. These are discussed in detail in Becoming Coachable, illustrated with numerous coaching stories from various industries and backgrounds. Leaders can practice coachability by proactively seeking input from others, creating space for reflection, asking open-ended questions, and having the courage to experiment with new behaviors outside their comfort zone.

For instance, being open to change means being willing to alter long-held beliefs or practices in favor of more effective methods. Accepting feedback involves not just hearing but truly listening and considering the perspectives of others. Taking action means implementing the advice and strategies discussed during coaching sessions, rather than just contemplating them. Being held accountable involves regularly reviewing progress with a coach or mentor to ensure that commitments are being met.

Small steps add up. The most coachable leaders turn coaching into a daily practice rather than a one-off intervention. Even if they meet with a coach weekly, they apply what they learn daily. This includes incorporating new techniques into their work habits, reflecting on their interactions, and continuously seeking ways to improve. Approaching every interaction as a learning opportunity builds the muscle of coachability over time. This simple shift can make a significant difference for any leader in just a few weeks.

The most coachable leaders adopt a growth mindset, recognizing that their skills and knowledge can always expand through dedication and hard work. They understand that even the best leaders have blind spots. As John Wooden famously said, "It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." Checking their ego at the door, embracing humility, and committing to development by being open to the process are crucial. Additionally, they often seek out diverse perspectives to challenge their thinking and broaden their understanding. This ongoing commitment to learning and growth is what sets coachable leaders apart and enables them to achieve sustained success.

Advice for Leaders on Inner Resistance

Our early experiences shape our perspectives in ways we may not consciously realize. From childhood memories to formative moments in our careers, these experiences can subtly influence our decisions, reactions, and interactions. To expand limiting perspectives, leaders must trace current behaviors back to formative experiences and core beliefs. This process involves a deep dive into one's past, unraveling the threads that have woven the fabric of our current mindset. With self-awareness and courage, leaders can intentionally choose to rewrite internal narratives when needed. This transformative journey is challenging and requires a willingness to confront uncomfortable truths about oneself.

Such challenging work is best done with the support of a skilled coach, who can help uncover hidden drivers and provide tools to lead from a more conscious place. A coach can offer a safe space to explore these internal landscapes, help identify patterns that may not be immediately obvious, and guide leaders toward more constructive behaviors. As Aristotle said, "Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom." This ancient wisdom underscores the timeless importance of self-awareness in effective leadership.

Leaders should explore their inner landscape with curiosity and non-judgment, approaching their self-examination with an open and compassionate mind. Then, with self-awareness and courage, they should address narratives and behaviors that don’t serve them or those around them. This might involve re-evaluating long-held beliefs, challenging deeply ingrained habits, and embracing new ways of thinking and acting. We cannot control what happens to us, but we can control how we respond. A growth mindset recognizes that we have agency, and change usually begins from within. By fostering this mindset, leaders can not only improve their own effectiveness but also inspire and empower those they lead, creating a positive ripple effect throughout their organizations.

Navigating Resistance and Embracing Coachability

Moving beyond our comfort zone can often trigger resistance, even when we genuinely want to change. This resistance is a natural reaction to stepping into the unknown. Becoming Coachable emphasizes the importance of resilience during these pivotal moments of growth. We recommend being gentle and patient with yourself while making steady progress with determination.

Confronting deeply held beliefs and long-standing habits can cause emotional turbulence and discomfort, but discussing your concerns with a coach and trusting the coaching process can help you address and move through this internal resistance. Engaging with a coach provides a supportive environment to navigate these challenges. Focus on your ongoing growth journey and the powerful vision of the leader you aspire to be, rather than the immediate discomfort you may feel. Remember, each step forward brings you closer to achieving your full potential and realizing your leadership goals.

Leading by Example to Foster Coachability

Leading by example is one of the most powerful ways to establish a culture of coachability within teams. Leaders should model openness, vulnerability, and resilience. By demonstrating these qualities, they encourage their team to do the same. They should regularly ask team members for feedback, listen actively without judgment, and express gratitude for all feedback, whether it's positive or constructive. Creating a psychologically safe environment where team members feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and experiences is crucial.

Leaders can also guide team members through reflective exercises to help them unearth their own solutions. This approach not only fosters self-reliance but also enhances coachability in direct reports. Encouraging team members to think critically and independently helps them develop problem-solving skills that are essential for their growth. Additionally, rewarding growth and participation in coaching exercises reinforces a coachable culture. Recognizing and celebrating individual and team achievements in these areas can motivate others to engage more deeply in the process.

By integrating these practices, leaders can cultivate a supportive and dynamic team environment where continuous improvement and learning are valued and promoted.

The Transformative Impact of Coachability

As leaders become more coachable, they transform into more empowering, self-aware, collaborative, and purpose-driven individuals. They realize that they don't possess all the answers but have faith in their team's ability to navigate challenges collectively. By adopting a coachable mindset, they enhance their listening skills, communicate with clarity and care, and remain open to feedback. This makes them more aware and in tune with their surroundings and the needs of their team. Consequently, their teams respond by feeling empowered, valued, and deeply engaged in their work.

Senior leaders notice a marked increase in transparency and visionary thinking within the organization. Coachable leaders elevate those around them, fostering a culture that supports continuous learning and innovation. In such an environment, conflict gives way to collaboration, and the organization benefits from agile leadership that responds to challenges with flexibility and resilience. As Mahatma Gandhi famously said, "Be the change that you wish to see in the world." Through coachability, leaders not only transform themselves but also their entire business ecosystem, enabling collective growth and organizational flourishing.

Becoming Coachable seeks to demystify the concept of coaching, providing anyone with the right mindset and tools to fully leverage the benefits of coaching. Whether you are at the beginning of your coaching journey or looking for continued support, this book serves as your guide and mentor. It emphasizes the critical importance of coachability in achieving tangible results, offering insights into the attitudes and actions that foster being coachable. The journey begins with an open mind and heart, leading to the flourishing of your business, teams, and all those you lead and love.

Embrace coachability, and you'll discover that every experience, whether a success or a failure, becomes a stepping stone toward greatness. This mindset not only enhances your personal and professional growth but also sets a powerful example for your team and organization.

By prioritizing coachability, you create an environment where continuous improvement and collective success become the norm, paving the way for extraordinary achievements. The benefits of coachability extend beyond immediate gains, fostering a long-term culture of trust, innovation, and mutual respect. In a world that is constantly evolving, the ability to adapt and grow through coaching can be the key differentiator that propels leaders and their organizations to new heights. So, embrace coachability and watch your leadership journey take flight. We wish you all the best on this transformational path toward becoming a truly coachable leader. Keep learning, keep growing, and most importantly, keep leading with an open mind and heart. The possibilities are endless when you choose to embrace coachability!