In 2017, American individuals and companies spent $1 billion on coaching, and growth in the coaching industry indicates that more people understand what coaching is for and what it can accomplish.

Together, the right coach with the right client can make enormous strides in leadership performance.

Leadership coaches can facilitate improved performance and help new leaders deliver results sooner. But if someone simply isn’t ready to be coached, significant money and time can be wasted.

Sometimes not being ready for coaching simply means not being ready for coaching because of something outside the client’s control, such as a major project that doesn’t allow time for commitment to coaching. Other times, however, lack of readiness has more to do with a client’s inner qualities.

Lack of Readiness for Leadership Coaching Leads to Lack of Results

If you engage a leadership coach without fundamental readiness for coaching, you won’t get the kind of results you would if you maximized your readiness first. Leadership coaches can facilitate amazing results, but those results require substantial commitment on the part of both themselves and their client.

How much good would LeBron James’ coach do for you if you never practice basketball, don’t really understand the game, and aren’t even sure you’ll be interested in six months’ time? It’s easy to see how big a waste of resources it would be. Similarly, if you’re not developed as a professional, even the best leadership coach can’t do much to make up for it.

Signs that Someone Is Not Ready for Leadership Coaching

People who lack readiness for leadership coaching (or any other kind of coaching, for that matter), are ones who display these behaviors:

  • They always have an excuse and blame external factors for problems. Coaching requires extensive introspection and accepting responsibility, and if you can’t do that, coaching won’t work.
  • They can’t manage their calendar well enough to work coaching sessions into their schedule. When something is important enough, you make time for it.
  • They only care about performance tips and other “tactical” solutions to strategic problems. Leadership coaching goes right to the heart of performance and strategy. It is a marathon, not a sprint.
  • They can never find a coach who they believe is right for them. As important as it is to have strong rapport with a coach, if you wait for the “perfect” coach, you’ll be waiting forever.

If your first response to a problem is to find someone to blame, you’re not ready to be coached.

Characteristics of Someone Who Is Ready for Coaching

By contrast, someone who is ready for coaching is self-aware without being self-absorbed. They are not afraid to look within and identify their strengths and weaknesses, so they can magnify the former and address the latter. People who are ready for coaching are responsible and accountable. They’re trustworthy, and if they give you their word on something, you can count on them.

Coachable people are curious. They have no illusion that there’s nothing left to learn now that they’ve reached the top. They know that change is all around, and they know there is always more to learn. Coachable people are also resilient. They know how to listen to feedback, accept their own shortcomings, and do the work to address them. They’re neither thin-skinned nor arrogant.

Ask yourself these questions and answer them honestly to learn if you’re ready for coaching:

  • Am I willing to make the time commitment that leadership coaching requires?
  • Is my supervisor supportive of my being coached?
  • Am I disciplined enough to do the work involved in coaching?
  • Am I ready to ask for and accept feedback, and then to act upon it?
  • Do I have the determination to consistently practice new behaviors to bring about long-term change?

Leadership coaching can facilitate significant, measurable performance gains, but the success of coaching depends heavily on the readiness and willingness of the person being coached. If you’re honest with yourself and realize you’re not ready for coaching, it’s time to identify the reasons why and work on them. Just as the concept of “mise en place” is fundamental for the master chef’s readiness to create something wonderful in the kitchen, readiness for coaching is equally as necessary for an effective coaching engagement.

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