Elisabet Hearn and I wrote this article for 2020visionleader.com
There is no such thing as status quo – at least not for any longer periods of time. No, the truth is that the world sure isn’t standing still – neither should we.
We live in a changing world and we need to continuously learn and re-learn. What we knew yesterday may no longer be relevant or correct. What we once accepted as truths may since have been disproved. We need to be open to that, to accept that.
We’re sure you would agree that everyone needs to change, adapt and evolve to meet the demands and expectations of the future.
This of course also means that we need to welcome feedback AND be able to take action to change and adapt our actions, behaviours and habits.
Many people say that they are adaptable and flexible, but when someone gives them constructive feedback (which could help them develop), they brush it away, or become defensive, they come with excuses and explanations – simply put; they don’t take it in and so they don’t change.
On some level it’s more important for them to be “right” than to be willing to develop. They are not open to the coaching opportunity of the feedback. And each time they reject the feedback, they reduce the chances of others wanting to share feedback in the future – hence minimising the chance to grow and develop and be successful.
Winners are people who are coachable. It’s as straightforward as that. Imagine a team in the world of sports where a player isn’t coachable and won’t take on feedback – well, they are pretty soon going to be off that team, don’t you think?
What does it mean to be coachable?
When we are coachable, we let our guard down. We stand strong and open minded, knowing that feedback and coaching is the stuff of winners, of champions. We assume positive intent. We are eager to keep doing better and better.
There are many possible coaches around us all; people who can hold up a mirror and let us see what they see, and at times give us guidance too.
They may be leaders, peers, direct reports, friends, and of course professional coaches.
You can lead a horse to water, but you can’t make him drink. Learning and coaching can never be forced on someone, it has to be the ownership of each individual to take responsibility for their learning. We have even seen examples of people who get themselves a coach, and then in ‘clever’ ways duck from feedback and consequent learning moments. It’s ironic indeed, but it happens.
And a reluctance to be coached is often fear-based, not wanting to admit to not having all the answers, not being perfect. This reasoning is of course deeply flawed as there is no such thing as perfect – we are all work in progress, learning never stops – and good coaching is an extremely effective way of growing.
How to be more coachable
Here are some ideas to ponder if you want to make more of those coachable moments available to you.
Check your ego at the door
It’s a mindset. Go into meetings and coachable moments with an open mind, not just focusing on your own interests. Be prepared to be inspired and maybe even surprised.
Practise a growth mindset
Recognise that you have endless potential for development and growth. In fact, it would be boring and deeply non-motivating if you couldn’t develop any further, wouldn’t it?
Ask questions, listen, learn. Have questions prepared for meetings to prompt new insights.
Value the people you surround yourself with
Value their observations. Be open minded and grateful when you receive feedback. Assume that they want what’s best for you. Why wouldn’t they?
Make time for conversations with your boss
Ask for their time. Ask for their feedback and listen. Ask for clarifications if needed.