How Do I Know If Someone Is Coachable?

March 27, 2014 Kim Rogers

Is This Leader Coachable?Is this leader “coachable”?  First and foremost, being coachable is not a fixed trait but instead something that can change based on the situation, circumstances and point in time. Here’s the better question to ask:  Would coaching benefit this leader at this point?

Here are the three criteria necessary to determine if the answer is yes or no:

1.  Does the leader recognize that there is an important gap to close? Do they recognize that they are at point A and they need to be at point B (even if they aren’t totally clear on where point B is)?

2.  Does the leader own the gap? Do they acknowledge that with effort and commitment they can close the gap (they don’t blame external factors for the gap, nor do they fail to see how their own efforts can make a difference)?

3.  Does the leader want to close the gap? Do they genuinely want to do the work required to bridge the gap, and do they see the benefits of doing so?

When these three criteria are met, incredible things can happen. Whether it is a high potential leader who wants to take their game to the next level to secure a promotion, or a struggling leader who wants to turn things around, people can do incredible things when they want to and have the right level of support.

Don’t Make These Costly Mistakes

The coaching engagements that I most often see fail are those in which the coaching is “being done to” the individual. The leader accepts the coaching because their boss told them to, but they don’t really buy into it.  More importantly, they either don’t agree that there is a real gap or they don’t take ownership of that gap.

Interestingly, the other type of coaching engagements I see fail are those in which a valued leader is provided coaching simply as a reward or retention tactic, but with no defined need. These leaders enter coaching with no clear or pressing gap to close and at a loss to know where to focus. For coaching to be fully effective, the leader needs to feel a dynamic tension between where they are today and where they want to be in the future. 

Coaching is not about coming together with someone to have a series of interesting discussions. It is about having important insights and making meaningful behavioral shifts, and it requires hard work! Only those leaders who are ready to commit the time and emotional energy will fully benefit. Only when these criteria are met should your organization make the investment in coaching.

About the Author

Kim Rogers

Kim Rogers is the National Director of Leader Effectiveness and a Senior Consultant with Lee Hecht Harrison Knightsbridge. Kim’s focus is on helping maximize individual, team and organizational performance. She is a trained assessor and certified coach who takes great pride in working with senior leaders as they strive for their professional and personal goals.

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