Are You Coachable?

A Top Trait of Lifelong Learners: Coachability

are you coachable imageCan you tell if you are a coachable person? Do coachable people do better at work and in business?

This month, I am writing about the value and impact of being a lifelong learner. One of the most important traits of the lifelong learner is that they are coachable.

“The greater danger for most of us lies not in setting our aim too high and falling short; but in setting our aim too low, and achieving our mark.”


Here is something to consider. Even the best athletes and top executives in the world benefit from coaching, whether formally or informally. Being coachable is a sign of confidence in one’s ability to continue to grow in ways that matter professionally and personally.

Traits of a coachable person:

– Thirst for lifelong learning and inquisitive nature

– The innate belief that you don’t have all the answers

– Commitment to listening deeply to peers, leaders, mentors, and customers

– Humility to admit and address mistakes

– Bias to taking meaningful action on top priorities

– Discernment to know the top priorities

Benefits of Being Coachable

It begins with being employable. A smart interviewer or hiring manager can recognize an attitude of being coachable, coupled with the willingness to take on responsibility. Recent graduates will find the path to their first job goes more smoothly when they demonstrate this attitude.

From there, coachable people find that they are promotable because they act on constructive and challenging feedback. Often, they become leadership material. Receiving coaching does not always mean taking remedial action. Even the best leaders find that being coachable can help them become even better leaders, inspiring employees to be more engaged and productive.

Ask yourself how top athletes view their career and the outside advice provided by their coach. The savviest elite athletes take a CEO view of their career. That is, they are in charge of making smart, strategic decisions about managing their physical talents and hence, their career. They look to their coach/coaches to leverage their strengths, ensure longevity and help address blind spots.

All the great advice in the world from a cadre of smart coaches is for naught if the athlete (or professional) in question fails to take heed.

As the legendary UCLA basketball coach, John Wooden famously said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”

How Would You Answer this Question?

Whether you are just starting out or you are the leader in charge, you may be familiar with this interview question: “What is your greatest weakness?”

I believe the interviewer is looking for three things when they ask this question:

  1. Self-awareness (do you accept feedback?)
  2. Actions taken to improve (do you take action on feedback?)
  3. Progress made (evidence that you are coachable)

The coachable person listens, reflects and takes action judiciously. That is, they sift through the feedback and make intelligent decisions about what matters and which improvements will net the most significant gains. Take steps to ensure that you are coachable. Accept constructive feedback without being defensive and consider it carefully. When such feedback comes from someone with your best interests and the interest of your company in mind, it pays to integrate that wisdom.


Here’s to your success in 2018!


Kathleen Winsor-Games