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What is a Coachable leader?

July 7, 2023

Coaching is more than a skill; it’s a superpower.

It’s a fundamental shift in mindset that underpins extraordinary leadership. And it should be available to everyone, not just the c-suite.

That’s our vision here at Coachable. Whilst we love hearing that people have access to external coaching, its value isn’t as far reaching as fostering a culture that lives and breathes coaching. A true coaching culture. Plus, external coaching requires deep pockets; pockets us folk in L&D know all too well are often cut in the midst of a recession.

It's time to do leadership development differently. Even when the route ahead looks choppy, it’s something we can’t afford not to. The solution? Say hello to the Coachable leader. 

Coachable Leaders

Coachable leaders are built differently. We define them as leaders who have mastered a coaching mindset, along with six core behaviours. Today, we’re exploring those six behaviours and how you can support your People managers in developing them when designing your own leadership programmes.

01. Conscious

Conscious leadership is about self-awareness and developing a leadership style that is in alignment with your values, enabling you to show up authentically and intentionally as a leader. 

Shockingly 95% of us think we are self aware. Spoiler: we’re not. In fact, according to Eurich, just 15% of us are actually self aware!

Coachable Tip:
Consider designing exercises that support the development of both their internal self-awareness (an understanding of their values and the things that motivate them) and their external awareness (understanding how others see them).

02. Coach

We’ve said it once, but we’ll say it louder for those at the back…Coaching is more than a skill; it’s a superpower. Its impact on both individual and business performance is significant with 99% of employers seeing coaching as having a positive impact on the business (Randstad Risemart).

There are three main components to mastering this behaviour:

  • Adopting a coaching mindset: trust, unconditional positive regard and an assumption the other person has the answers
  • Listening and creating a thinking space
  • Asking open, explorative questions

Coachable Tip:
Make sure you build in time for people to practise their coaching skills. Regularly. And to get feedback. Even better if you can have qualified coaches offering them feedback and mentoring. 

03. Challenge

This is a meaty one. This goes beyond coaching and into the realms of advanced Coachable leaders. Leaders that have mastered this behaviour can find the delicate balance between challenge and support, can move people through limiting beliefs and tap into intrinsic motivations.

Coachable Tip:
Encourage leaders to understand their team (and their own) comfort zones. This’ll help them understand their team’s resilience and when to offer support vs. challenge. Exploring someone’s limiting beliefs is advanced level coaching. The impact leaders will have is transformational, but tread carefully and consider external support on helping leaders develop this behaviour.

04. Collaborate

Psychological safety: Ah yes. The underpinning foundation of any high performing team. It’s a behaviour we couldn’t ignore. Naturally, we’ve added a Coachable twist: being able to foster psychological safety and facilitate team discussions to encourage contribution, collaboration and innovation.

Coachable Tip:
Encourage leaders to observe their next team meeting, rather than lead it. What do they notice? Who leads the discussions? How much space is there for everyone to contribute? How could they encourage more contributions and peer challenge? In the following meeting give everyone a chance to speak - uninterrupted - and notice the difference.

05. Candour

We’re fans of Radical Candour, but let’s face it, it’s not always delivered right. Well intended feedback lands like a lead balloon because it hasn’t had the level of care applied in how it’s framed. Bang goes any motivation they had. This is a behaviour that must be explored in any leadership programme. Our preferred framework is COIN for feedback which we've adapted to blend Radical Candour and SBI thinking into something which delivers feedback with care and coaching.

Coachable Tip:
Choose a feedback framework that reflects your culture and rather than use it as a script, turn each step into coaching questions that’ll help you explore the feedback with the individual and co-create any next steps.

06. Connect

No Coachable leader would be complete without mastering the ability to lead through change. it’s another of those meaty advanced topics. It requires the ability to put into practice situational leadership, overlapped with influencing, storytelling and strategy.

Coachable Tip:
Use the POWER model. Developed by our co-founder, Liz Whitney, POWER is completely versatile and can be used for self-coaching your way through a big decision, getting buy-in for complex or high risk decisions, group problem solving and internal pitch decks. We’ve included a link to our other blog which discusses POWER in more detail.

So there you have it, our Six Coachable Behaviours that we look to create coach-leaders who are more empathetic, empowering and inspiring.

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