How To Be a Great Leader – Lesson 1. Learn To Be Coachable

Are you a coachable leader? One of the greatest gifts that a leader can give to their team, their peers and themselves is the gift of being coachable. As part of the ‘How to be a great leader’ series, we look at some of the mindsets, behaviours and actions that aspiring, current and seasoned leaders adopt on the path to becoming a great leader.

So what does ‘coachable’ look like?

✅ Be willing to hear another person’s view

✅ Accept that you aren’t always right

✅ Be willing to learn new things, new ideas, new points of view

✅ Actually listen to your team

✅ Accept responsible for your actions and the ability to change

✅ See feedback as an opportunity to learn rather than an attack

What does coachable not look like?

❌ Having a fixed mindset, belief or opinion

❌ Being unwilling to change

❌ Using ‘but’ as a default and not waiting for others to finish speaking

❌ Always having an excuse or blaming others

❌ Not willing to look at your own behaviour or your part in a problem situation

A leader doesn’t need to be perfect or have all of the right answers – most teams and individuals can accept a lack of perfection in their leaders. What most team are unwilling to accept is a leader so fixed in their ideas, beliefs and systems that they are unwilling to learn and unwilling to change.

A true leader is one that is not only willing to listen to another opinion or view – no matter how confronting that may be – they are also willing to change their mind, perspective or behaviour when given new information or a better idea. Not only that, they are willing to say that they have learned or changed, and the idea wasn’t their own.

If a team or team member is courageous enough, willing enough to provide feedback to their leader on performance – take it as a gift! So many teams let their leaders ‘fly blind’ to the impacts of their behaviours, making judgements behind their backs and having opinions that don’t get aired in public.

Every now and again as an Executive Leadership Coach you are asked to work with a leader who is uncoachable. Intelligent, successful leaders and managers who can identify that there is a problem in their team or organisation – but who are unwilling to see their part of the problem. the problem is always ‘over there’.

This unwillingness is most obvious when it comes to their own behaviour. Unwillingness to listen to others views, unwillingness to change, unwillingness to consider another idea or perspective other than their own. This leader often can see the failings of others – but not see the same behaviour in themselves. The same behaviour is seen as an ‘excuse’ by the team, but a ‘reason’ for themselves.

Being a leader can be a pretty tough gig. Huge responsibilities for financial and operational success can be incredibly stressful and place enormous demands on your physical, emotional and mental wellbeing. One response to that is to take all of the ownership and responsibility on yourself – no one can help you but you. While ownership and responsibility are great traits in a leader, you can have too much of a good thing.

Excessive ownership and responsibility can lead to only one path, one idea and one belief – yours – and you may not always be right. No one is infallible – and the really good leaders recognise this in themselves early and are willing to look to others for perspectives and advice, and willing to really listen to alternative views. The leader that is willing to look at themselves and their own behaviour – and make changes where necessary – is more likely to get suggestions and ideas from their team. The ones that don’t will not.

The leader that is will to be coachable – by peers, by mentors, by their team or by accredited coaches – will be given the possibility and opportunity to have better ideas than their own and be more successful than they are. Uncoachable leaders will not.

Which leader are you?

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