While leadership training and development will always be instrumental to a leader’s progress, there is a opportunity that is constantly available to every leader – if only they will avail themselves of it.
What is this opportunity? The ability to gather insight from others as to what skills and behaviors will accelerate your progress. However, this is very difficult to do if you are viewed as an individual that does not accept coaching well.
This challenge will be particularly acute the more aggressive you are in setting goals for yourself and your team, as you will continue to experience problems and challenges that are new to you.
There are two ways to overcome these new challenges:
1. Trial and error by yourself.
2. Learn from the experiences and input of others.
In order to accelerate your progress on goals you have set, and minimize challenges and frustrations, high achievers become experts at learning from others. There simply is not enough time to learn everything by yourself!
We call this an attitude of coachability. We define coachability as:
1. Recognition of your contribution to the problems you are experiencing.
2. A willingness and ability to adapt your behavior.
3. A willingness to follow through until your results improves.
What is the most important change you need to make right now that would accelerate your effectiveness?
Experience shows us that most leaders struggle with this seemingly simple question. Why would that be?
I think that at least one answer lies in the observation that most individuals, when asked, would claim they are quite open-minded. However, the same individuals would claim there are many people they interact with that are not open-minded. In truth, how ‘open-minded’ we are depends on how emotionally vested we are in the idea that is being challenged.
Now imagine that you are being challenged and asked how you are contributing to the challenges you are experiencing. Most people, when faced with this type of question become at least somewhat defensive. Unfortunately, defensiveness shuts down all opportunity to learn from the person that is providing you the feedback.
When presented with a new idea, we only have two choices: we can choose to learn, or choose to defend why we are right. However, you cannot do both at the same time. If you choose to defend why you are right, all learning will cease. If you choose to learn, you must suspend the right to defend yourself, only asking questions to understand a different point of view.
Choosing to learn does not imply that you blindly accept another’s point of view. It means that you are willing to let go of being right and objectively analyze an opposing point of view.
When you are provided feedback, learn to say “Thank you”. Not “well, you see… “ or “I did that because…”.
Responding with a simple “Thank you” will encourage others to continue to provide feedback to you.
Change of any kind is difficult to implement. Changing habits can feel downright impossible unless it is approached correctly. People who struggle achieving behavior change often focus on why the change cannot occur. Goal achievers exhibit a willingness to change their behavior when provided with feedback.
It has been said that ‘first we make our habits – then our habits make us’. This deceptively simple statement contains a rich truth that can help us determine how we need to adapt once we have recognized the need to change.
Rather than focusing on a series of ‘tasks’ to be completed, ask yourself: What fundamental ‘way of behaving’ would transform the way I complete all these tasks?
For example; often leaders feel that there is just not enough time. Instead of becoming a more ‘effective time manager’ (whatever that is) – ask instead: What the 3 most important activities I need to engage in on a daily basis? Then, make sure you schedule time for those activities first.
Coachable people realize that until an improvement in results has taken place, there is still more growth, development and change necessary. The success or failure of individuals, and organizations, hinges on an understanding of this critical concept. You must never lose sight of the fact that hard work and long hours are meaningless if we you do not change your results.
Pay attention to whether your efforts are delivering the desired results.
If they are not – guess where you need to go? You guessed it: Back to your trusted advisors for more feedback.