Is everyone coachable? I often get asked a variation of this question. So I’ve been giving it some thought. By now I’ve worked with probably over a thousand clients. I’ve only had two who I felt did not make significant changes after working with me. In one instance, it was because the person really didn’t want to change, and in the second instance, the person really did want to change but had a hard time implementing my suggestions. Maybe I was the wrong coach for them. Maybe the timing was wrong. I know through my studies in Brain Science that our brain can develop new habits so why is it easier for some people to change than others?
Recently, I’ve been working with several clients who after less than two hours have made tremendous leaps in their presentation content, engagement factor, and delivery. It might be easy to pat myself on the back and call myself a miracle worker (okay, maybe I did that for a minute). But then I sat back and analyzed the situation.
Five of these clients were men working for the same company. So while working with the fifth gentleman and witnessing his quick progress, I mentioned to him how impressed I was that he and all of his colleagues made such significant changes so quickly. He told me that it was part of the company culture to be open to feedback and hungry for learning. He told me that the CEO models this and hires for that quality. I was thoroughly impressed. In the past few weeks I’d used the Chinese proverb “The Fish rots from the head down” to describe the problem with another organization I was working for. But here is proof that the opposite is also true. “The fish flourishes from the head down”
So that made me look at and categorize what goes into being coachable.
Willingness to Trust: The individuals in this organization were told that they would receive coaching on presentations skills. I do not know how much information they received about me or my company beforehand, but one day, I show up in their office with a video camera, asking them a bunch of questions about their presentations, videoing the way they are currently presenting and then, to quote one of my clients, “ripping them apart” (not completely true by the way. I gave him what I call my “compassionately frank” feedback on the engagement factor of his current presentation.)
Openness to feedback: of course, they did not all go gently into that good change. There were the usual excuses and “Yes, buts”: ‘I have an accent’, I like being informal and casual’, ‘don’t want to be a “presenter” “I like just hanging in the back and letting the slides do the work.” (???!!!) However, once I explained that an accent does not mean you have to be monotone. That there is a difference between being casual and uninteresting. And that sometimes too casual translates into not caring and arrogance. And that NO, it is not okay to hang in the back of the room while doing a presentation–they listened–really listened and did not push back.
Courage to try something new: In less than an hour, I gave these gentlemen, new ways to use their voice, new ways to sit and stand, new ways to start their presentations, new content to add to their presentations and slides, slides and habits that needed to be cut and destroyed, and new order for the information in their slides. And in each and every case, by the end of the two hours, they had implemented and tried on all of what I gave them, resulting in before and after videos the likes of which I rarely see.
So before you run out and hire a coach for yourself, make sure you exhibit these three qualities: Trust, Openness, and Courage. And if you are the head of any organization, team or company before you throw money away on coaching and training make sure you are modeling, hiring for, and valuing these qualities in your employees.
If you are ready to make your own changes, view my coaching programs here.