Why It’s More Important Than Ever to Be Coachable

Business Coach

Do you remember how it felt when you were unsure how to do something, and someone stepped in to coach you through it? Whether it was to finish a big project, accomplish something meaningful, or learn a new skill, chances are, you felt thankful, grateful, and empowered.

While these are natural human emotions, figuring out how to consistently seek help from others and learn from those around you isn’t easy. The reason is simple; most people want to do it independently. They want to believe the false narrative of being a “self-made man or self-made woman.” One’s ability to put ego and pride aside and be coachable is often is the difference between success and failure. 

One’s ability to put ego and pride aside and be coachable is often is the difference between success and failure.

Take Mike Grier as an example. He grew up in Massachusetts with dreams of playing in the National Hockey League (NHL). 

Thanks to some success in high school, Grier got the opportunity to play at Boston University. The problem was he was too big and slow at over 250 pounds to make a significant impact on the ice. While fans loved watching his big hits on the opposing team, most didn’t believe he had any long-term future in hockey.

However, others didn’t know the advice his parents had given him before starting his collegiate career. “We only ask one thing of you, and that’s to be coachable.”

They were right. The college coaches told him he would need to follow a rigorous offseason conditioning program. He lost 27 pounds and started his sophomore year as a sculpted athlete. And he became committed to becoming a better defensive player.

The rest was history in more ways than one. He emerged as a collegiate superstar that year. With the blessing of his coach, he left college early and went directly to the NHL. After being born and trained in the United States, he became the first-ever African-American player to make the NHL. He was never a superstar, but he had a long and successful career in the NHL. 

While Mike Grier’s story is unique to sports and him, being coachable is essential, especially for you and me.

What’s Coachability and Why is it Important?

More often than not, a person’s ability to say or do something significant is built on the backbone of hard work, dedication, and being coachable. A mentor of mine always told me:

Being coachable is how you show the world that you have a hunger to get better and are willing to put in the work and effort.

According to Leadership IQ, if you aren’t coachable, it’s also tough to make a successful job move. They conducted a three-year study of 20,000 hiring decisions and asked, Why do 46% of new hires fail within a year and a half? The number one reason from hiring managers was lack of coachability. If you have big career advancement goals, you had better learn to be coachable and show that trait to others.

What’s interesting about coachability is that it’s not technical skill or inherent to us. It’s a mental mindset that anyone can embrace.

Take Nick Saban, the legendary head football coach at Alabama constantly preaches to his players and coaches to “respect the critical eye.” Instead of getting defensive, embrace when someone is coaching you with a critical eye because they are trying to make you better.

Reject Your Natural Instincts

What’s interesting about coachability is it tends to follow our instincts. The less experienced and less mature you are, the harder it is to be coachable. (No better example than teenagers). Then on the opposite end of the scale, as you get older and have more success, your results will tell you that you have figured it all out and don’t need to be coachable. But what’s most impressive are those professionals at both ends of this spectrum who remain coachable and seek coaching. 

What I have learned studying and coaching some of the best and worst leaders on the planet is the best leaders don’t define their coachability by learning alone. Instead, they define it by their ability to apply what they learn.

The best leaders define their coachability not by learning alone, but by their ability to apply what they learn. 

Unless you lack the skill of coachability altogether, you can probably keep your mouth shut for long enough to listen to someone else. The trick is to ask yourself the following question: 

  • “Are you genuinely interested in learning from someone else and applying what they teach you, or are you just thinking about how you will respond to what they say to demonstrate all you know?”

Coachable vs. Uncoachable

You would think most people would know the difference between being coachable and uncoachable, but that wouldn’t be the case. Here is a simple way to think about it:

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So the natural question becomes, how do you “respect the critical eye” and develop the skill of coachability.

1.Stay on the Path of Growth

I saw TD Jakes speak one time, and he summed up the best way to stay on the path of growth, “The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.” These aren’t just wise words; they are brilliant words. It’s a reminder to never stop learning and seeking growth on your personal and professional journey. Since you are reading this, I know you are on a growth path. The challenge for you is to stay on it. I wrote in Building the Best about a patten around personal development called AOL, an acronym that stands for Action, Outcome, Learning. Embrace AOL on your path of growth. 

“The world is a university and everyone in it is a teacher. Make sure when you wake up in the morning, you go to school.”

2. Get a Coach

If you are lucky enough to have a manager or boss that acts as a coach, consider yourself in an elite class. If you don’t, get someone with outside expertise and experience to help you on your journey. If budget is a problem, try to leverage someone close to you, such as a friend or group of colleagues. The best part is coaches aren’t like a marriage, it doesn’t have to be forever.  

3. Be Willing to Accept Feedback Responsibly

There is an old saying that’s it’s tough to read the label from the inside of the jar. Often we get so close to things or people that it’s hard to accept that we have blind spots or need help. Leave your ego at the door, put the excuses in the drawer, and take any criticism or feedback as a vehicle to help you grow.

Closing

A few keys to being coachable are staying on the path to growth, getting a coach, and accepting feedback responsibiliy. I will leave you today with the exact words I tell my 7-year-old daughter when I drop her off at dance. “There are only two rules today. Be coachable and be competitive.”

I hope you will be in a relentless pursuit to be both coachable and competitive. Here is the best part, if you and your team stay coachable, results are right around the corner.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

Why the Best Companies Develop Leaders at Every Level

leadership

When things aren’t going a team’s way, it’s easy to point a finger of blame at the market, the products offered, or even one team member. More often than not, a struggling team boils down to ineffective leadership from more than just the person at the top. 

Teams that are highly effective at overcoming adverse conditions are capable of unleashing what I call “leaders at every level.” Unfortunately, this isn’t a light switch that can be turned on at any time. What’s required is a strategy and an intense focus on hiring, developing, and equipping people to choose to lead daily. 

Great companies develop their people to be leaders because every circumstance demands it. 

“Leaders at every level” is not only a reputation in the marketplace for having an elite culture, but it permeates internally as team members are expected to become the leader they are capable of becoming. 

There was a time in the not-so-distant past where every critical decision was left to the CEO or management team. In today’s current rapid change environment, this practice can and will be detrimental to an organization’s existence.

The Model is Changing

To retain top talent, organizations have relied on promotions into positions of leadership. While this retention tactic is still in practice, human resource executives and executive leaders are getting wiser. Now, they are not only evaluating leadership skills in their succession planning process, but there is a lot more emphasis on asking people to act like leaders right where they are. This is particularly important since most professionals want their work to have a more meaningful impact. 

Organizations like Extended Stay, Cora Health, Lippert Components, and many more have embraced the idea of developing leaders at every level. While this approach can be time-consuming and more expensive in the short-term, it creates a workforce that is prepared to lead. 

Developing leaders is time-consuming and expensive, but it creates a workforce that is prepared to lead.

Here are a few strategies for creating “leaders at every level” in your organization: 

Create a Culture of Growth and Learning

Leadership, like many things, is a journey and not a destination. Many organizations know this, and they have built internal leadership development academies/universities. These include things like year-long courses, learning tracks, workshops, coaching, and mentoring, just to name a few. However, best companies do this not because it’s a nice thing to do, but because it’s tied to their purpose and mission.

Take Coke Consolidated as an example. Even though they are the largest Coca-Cola Bottler in the United States, they know they exist for a much bigger purpose. Todd Miller, the Vice President of Organizational Capability, said, “We are a purpose-driven company that attracts, engages, and grows a highly talented, diverse workforce of servant leaders enabling Coke Consolidated’s growth and performance.” 

One of my favorite ways Miller and his amazing team do this is by “Rewarding and recognizing teammates driving our culture of growth and learning. This is critical because we all tend to repeat what is rewarded.”

“We tend to repeat what is rewarded”

Thanks to the internet and the massive amount of information available to us, every organization, regardless of their budget, can tap into the unlimited number of opportunities to learn at any time. The best companies and talent development leaders recognize this and are getting creative in creating a culture of learning.  

Take David Hare Director of Enterprise Learning and Development at GE Appliances as an example. “We pivoted quickly to ensure that everyone who was able, could continue to grow. We moved to democratize learning and create environments where we could have dialogue around pertinent topics, learning more of what is taking place in our business, while building skills that would accelerate our business post-pandemic.”

This came by the way of us utilizing their digital learning environment more intentionally and starting a series called RISE.  RISE was a series of weekly talks and teachings around functional areas of the business, inclusion diversity and equity, leadership capabilities, team effectiveness, innovation, digital transformation, and personal effectiveness.

Preach and Promote Coachable 

Since the best leaders are learners, being coachable is essential for any leader. More often than not, a person’s ability to say or do something significant is built on the backbone of hard work, dedication, and being coachable.  

What’s interesting about coachability is that it’s not a technical skill or inherent to us. It’s a mental mindset that anyone can embrace. Being coachable means, you proactively seek help and feedback to support your growth and development. 

Being coachable means, you proactively seek help and feedback to support your growth and development. 

Nick Saban, the legendary head football coach at Alabama, constantly preaches to his players and coaches to “respect the critical eye.” This means that instead of getting defensive, embrace when someone is coaching you with a critical eye because they are trying to make you better.  

Organizations that promote coachable and “respect the critical eye” professionals at every level will have more leaders than those who do not because coachable people eventually pour that knowledge into others. It reminds me of the great Sophia Bush quote: “We are allowed to be a masterpiece and a work and progress all at the same time.” 

Focus on Attitudes That Are Energy Giving

One of the most popular questions I get in my LinkedIn or Instagram DM box is, “What do I do if I am a part of a toxic or dysfunctional team?” There are three commonalities for everyone who asks this question – they are on teams with bad attitudes, negative energy, or a bad leader. If an organization wants to develop leaders at every level, they must avoid putting people in leadership positions who have bad attitudes, spread negative energy, or tolerate constant pessimism.  

Organizations must continuously identify and highlight relentlessly positive professionals. In an interview with Jacob Morgan for The Future of Work Newsletter, ServiceNow CEO Bill McDermott said, “Never underestimate the power of relentless optimism. Challenges create opportunity. We must think boldly and create the solution others view as possible.”

If you want to create leaders at every level, having relentlessly optimistic professionals is a great place to start. 

Closing

It would be amazing if having “leaders at every level” were as easy as turning on a lightswitch. But when you think about all the work, effort, and dedication it took and continues to take for that light switch to turn on the lights, it proves there is nothing easy about it.  

However, if companies both have the desire and commitment to developing leaders, great things happen. Frontline employees provide a better experience to customers, managers will have healthier teams, and moms and dads will have a stronger family structure outside of work.

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About the Author: John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company helping executives and managers to lead their best. He was named one of LinkedIn’s Top Voices in Management & Workplace. John is also the author of Building the Best: 8 Proven Leadership Principles to Elevate Others to Success. You can follow him on Instagram @johngeades.

5 Great Signs Your Team Respects You As a Leader

Few things are more valuable than a loyal employee. It’s not just because replacing a skilled worker could cost your business double that individual’s annual salary. You lose that person’s knowledge, productivity, and experience with your product or service and even their leadership qualities.

The good news is that as a leader, you have the greatest influence in motivating your employees to stay. When you take active steps to grow as a leader and transform your business for the better, you can instill greater loyalty among your employees so that you can get even better results.

How can you tell you’re on the right track as a leader? One of the best ways is to look at the behaviors of your staff. The following are key signs that your leadership traits are having the desired impact on your team:

1. They go above and beyond.

Your leadership and example will directly influence how much effort an employee puts into their job. When managers make the work meaningful, employees who have bought in will often do more than what their job description entails. They view the company’s success as their own and strive to improve the workplace.

The Harvard Business Review describes these as “citizenship behaviors,” noting that “when employees are willing to go beyond their formal roles by helping out coworkers, volunteering to take on special assignments, introducing new ideas and work practices, attending non-mandatory meetings, putting in extra hours to complete important projects, and so forth, their companies are more efficient and effective.”

2. They’re coachable and constantly getting better.

The best employees aren’t perfect — but they are coachable and on a mission to get better. They are willing to take accountability for their actions, but perhaps more importantly, they also view you as a valuable resource for gaining insights on how they can improve. One of my favorite leadership quotes of all time comes from Harvey Firestone:

“The growth and development of people is the highest calling of leadership.”

When you’ve established yourself as a dynamic leader, employees won’t grudgingly listen to your suggestions and then half-heartedly implement them because “you’re the boss.” They won’t offer excuses or tune out when you have difficult conversations.

Instead, they will be enthusiastic about your new ideas and be willing to implement them based on the feedback they receive. This creates a culture of continual growth that will benefit everyone involved.

3. They build and support team culture.

Employees who have fully bought into your company culture don’t just perform better — they also become brand advocates. In a sense, this allows them to become recruiters as they share positive work experiences with other potential hires who would be a good culture fit.

Of course, culture starts at the top. As Mark Moses, CEO of CEO Coaching International, has noted, leaders must first ask themselves, “‘Where are you going?’… a question that calls for clarity, painstaking communication and dedication to aligning your company culture to your vision … An environment that will attract the kind of talent needed to pursue and execute on the vision is also critical.”

Establishing quality culture from the get-go will help attract the “right fit” to your company in the first place.

4. They are willing to say no.

Having an employee say “no” to you may not seem like it fits under the idea of “following without question,” but it’s a key indicator that you’ve developed trust with your staff. Employees who respect you won’t just automatically agree with your ideas — they will give them thoughtful consideration.

If they have a good reason to disagree, they will present their argument in a respectful manner. This is because they trust you to honestly listen to their ideas and concerns so you can work together to make the best decision for the company. This collaboration will prove far more valuable for your long-term success than automatic compliance.

5. They’re in it for the long haul.

Your best employees likely aren’t going to go unnoticed by other businesses. Other offers will come their way, many of which may entail a promotion, higher pay or a more convenient office location.

Building a strong foundation of leadership won’t necessarily cause all of your employees to reject these offers. But you may be surprised at how often a top performer will be willing to delay gratification because they have become committed to your brand and the purpose of their work.

The impact — not the money — becomes the greater reward.

When employees buy into your culture and leadership, they won’t jump ship at the first offer they receive. At the very least, you’ll have the opportunity to present a counteroffer rather than be caught off-guard by a two-weeks’ notice slip.

For your business to succeed, few things will prove more valuable than building a loyal team. When you practice great leadership, you ensure buy-in from your entire team. 

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About the Author John Eades is the CEO of LearnLoft, a leadership development company which exists to turn managers into leaders and create healthier places to work. John was named one of LinkedIn’s 2017 Top Voices in Management & Workplace and was awarded the 2017 Readership Award by Training Industry.com. John is also the author the upcoming book Building the Best: The Proven Leadership Framework to Elevate Others to Successand host of the “Follow My Lead” Podcast, a show that transfers stories and best practices from today’s leaders to the leaders of tomorrow. You follow him on instagram @johngeades.