As people progress in their careers, more and more are hiring a business coach. Executive, management, technical skills, and other types of coaches help individuals set goals and develop toward next-level positions. Some find coaching to be very helpful as they aspire to grow in their careers. Others find coaching to be a complete waste of time. Sure, the difference may be driven by who does the coaching. But far more often, I find that the difference in what a person gets out of coaching depends on being coachable.
Tips on Being Coachable
To be coached, you must be coachable.
Being coachable starts with being open. Being defensive, protective or closed off prohibits you from getting any real benefits from time spent on coaching. If you expect the coach to work some kind of magic when you are not willing to invest yourself into the coaching, then please don't bother. You will waste time and money that could be better spent elsewhere.
Those who are open to coaching do the following:
Respond openly and candidly to questions asked by the coach.
Reflect on questions the coach asks and assignments the coach has made. The best outcomes of coaching seldom happen during a coaching session. Rather, they happen when the person being coached takes the time to think through what's been discussed and to calibrate new information with old experience.
Commit to making a change. It doesn't have to be an entire transformation. Coaching successes are often made up of small incremental changes. These could be changes in attitude, changes in behavior, changes in process or changes in priorities. Whatever change you might decide to make, you must be committed to it. It is not the job of the coach to make the change.
Focus time and attention on coaching. This includes meeting times with the coach and time for reflection and practice in between coaching sessions. Those who spend time in the moment with the coach will achieve faster and better results than those who simply go through the motions of the meeting. One of the biggest mistakes you can make when entering into a coaching relationship is to routinely cancel or reschedule coaching appointments. If coaching is such a low priority for you, it’s best to wait until you're ready to be coached.
Challenge yourself. Why not? Being coached is a luxury. It's something that not everyone has an opportunity to do. Working with a coach can help you discover new things about yourself, can unleash your potential and can give you newfound confidence. So why not invest yourself in that full and rich experience? The only way to do that is by stretching yourself. Think of yourself like a rubber band. You won’t be very effective unless you are stretched out.
Are You Ready to Be Coached?
Those who are willing to be coached and open to coaching are the ones who get the most out of it. If you find yourself hesitating, backpedaling, resisting or putting off coaching in any way, it may simply mean you are not ready to be coached. If that is the case, ask yourself what it is you're afraid of.
If you are unable to move past that fear or hesitation, you probably are not ready to be coached. Don't force it upon yourself or let it be forced on you. Save the coaching for a time when you really are coachable.
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(Editor's Note: This article was originally published in December 2013 and was recently updated.)