Coaching is having a positive impact on individuals and organizations around the world. In my conversations with business leaders, they often ask me, “What makes coaching so effective?” My first thought is to respond with a deep, eloquent answer about the power of effective questioning and the coach’s ability to draw out the participant’s genius. But while these are worthy attributes of a good coach, they are not the answer.
So what does make coaching effective? Simply, the leader must be coachable. The best coach in the world will not make a difference with a person who is closed to the process. If the leader is open to being challenged and stretched, on the other hand, a good coach can help him or her develop the skills necessary to achieve desired outcomes.
I have had the honor of being trained in coaching by Marshall Goldsmith, the well-known author and leadership coach. He often mentions that his greatest coaching client was the one he spent the least amount of time with. Goldsmith then jokes that there is a direct correlation between spending more time coaching leaders and diminishing returns. Why did the leader Goldsmith spent such a short amount of time with have the largest gains? The leader was willing to actively participate, he understood the desired outcomes, and he made the necessary changes to achieve goals. In other words, he was coachable.
If you’re participating in a coaching engagement, what can you do to put yourself in the right mindset and make yourself coachable? The following are a few tips.
1. Put your ego away. If you already know it all, why do you need a coach? Feel confident in your abilities, but also be open to the fact that we all have room to grow.
2. Be open to new approaches. A coach is trained to listen to what you are and what you are not saying. It is the coach’s job to challenge your assumptions and biases to stretch you. Together, the two of you will identify new approaches to overcome the challenges you’re trying to address. You must be willing to do this.
3. Be accountable. To say that coaching is just a matter of holding participants accountable understates its power. However, there is a huge element of accountability involved. When looking at outcomes, you’ll find that there is typically a gap between what you want to do and what you actually do. Your coach can give you the direction you need to take action and fill that gap. Be sure to do your part.
4. Want to change. No one can change you. You have to want to change. You have to put in the work to change. A coach is trained to work with you to bring about transformation, but ultimately the coach cannot change you. You must make the change.
Are you coachable? Are you ready to bring a coach into your life in order to reach new heights? It starts with you. What are you going to do today to begin the process?
Sean Olson is a business development consultant at FlashPoint.