One of the most difficult jobs a good coach has is….being more coachable than people who are not coaches.
Let me explain why this is so crucial, and so challenging. And then let me indulge you in a couple of examples from my own week as a coach.
Coachability means that one is open to advice and feedback about getting better, without getting defensive or personalizing the feedback.
Coaches need to be coachable in order to model this behavior to their clients, and also to continue to build their skills and presence as a coach. You could say that being coachable is one of the core competencies of the coach, and one of the hardest.
Some of the coaches I work with don't seem to be especially coachable. It seems like they want to be gurus who are above
it all, and tell people how to achieve their level of awareness and enlightenment that they think they have attained. They seem to want to hear how great they are, and share all of their wisdom, rather than being vulnerable and learning how they can get better. If this is your motivation for being a coach, you should consider being a doctor or lawyer instead.
This week was a tough one for me when it comes to being coachable, and every cell in my body wanted to get defensive:
– A colleague who I find to be obnoxious gave me some unsolicited advice about one of my coaching programs. He ripped into my program in such an petty, arrogant, and pompous way that I wanted to scream, if not worse.
– A client gave me some tough feedback about a presentation I was giving to thousands of people in her organization.
She wanted me to make some significant changes to my presentation, and her comments stung.
– My wife decided that this was the perfect week to give me some coaching about some of my less desirable habits around the house.
– Finally, my mother-in-law had some choice words for me about my parenting style.
All in all, it was not a great week. I didn't like the advice I was hearing, and I wanted to get defensive, as most of us do when we hear things we don't like to hear.
But I sucked it up, except with my mother-in-law (we're coaches, not saints, for crying out loud).
– I separated the colleague's obnoxious personality from his very valid feedback. I resolved to improve the program he was commenting on, and make it so great that even a person as pompous as this guy would rave about it.
– I took the client's advice and changed the presentation, and the event went great.
– I resolved to change my behavior based on my wife's comments.
– On the mother-in-law's advice, well, we can't all be perfect. I'm going to lay low and avoid her for a while.
How coachable are you? It's perhaps the coach's most difficult job, and ultimately the one discipline that helps us to keep getting better.