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Imagine having a child you envision becoming, say, a world-class tennis champion.

Successful coaching of any kind depends on the readiness of the person being coached. 

As they get older, they show signs of good athleticism, and equally important, they show interest in the game. Perhaps when the time is right, you show them how to swing a racquet, or explain how the matches shown on television are scored. Does that mean that it’s time to hire a tennis coach for them?

No, of course not. They may well turn into a talented player, but that doesn’t mean they’re ready for coaching at the first signs of promise. Even if they learn the game and maybe join their school’s team, they may not be ready for coaching. In fact, coaching someone who isn’t ready can be a colossal waste of time and money. Readiness is important when it comes to any type of coaching, including business coaching.

Risks of Premature Business Coaching

Let’s be honest. Business coaching can be a costly investment. When it’s done by an experienced, talented coach, along with a coaching client who is motivated and ready, it is an investment that can pay off swiftly and impressively.

But when business coaching is foisted upon someone who simply isn’t ready for it, it can be a waste of time and money, and it can actually set back the coaching client, who will probably wonder what is wrong with them that they couldn’t improve with the help of a coach.

Every organization should recognize and develop leadership talent because succession and legacy are important concepts. But that doesn’t mean that every potential leader who shows promise needs coaching right now.

Signs That a Leader Is Not Ready for Coaching

Certain levels of maturity and confidence are required for business coaching to be successful. If you have an emerging leader who shows these behaviors:

  • Consistently blaming others or external factors for problems
  • Insisting they don’t have the time for coaching
  • Exclusively focusing on short-term tips and tactics
  • Constantly putting off choosing a coach to find “the right one”

then they may in fact not be ready to work with a business coach.

Not every otherwise-competent employee has the maturity required for successful business coaching. 

Likewise, you should be aware of the emerging leader with exceptional luck, who has not had to cope with a huge, crashing failure, because that person may believe that they are in fact too good to even need coaching. Failure is humbling and great for helping people mature.

Signs of Leaders Who Are Ready for Coaching

The emerging leader who is ready for coaching is ready to listen, and they show this consistently in their day-to-day activities. Without great listening skills, coaching will fall on deaf ears. Likewise, those who are ready for coaching have strong communication skills and understand the importance of those skills.

People who are ready for business coaching are ready to take action to address one or more skills gaps or opportunities for improvement. They’re self-aware enough to know when they need to make changes and humble enough to ask for help with the task. They are committed to putting in the time required to work on skills and behaviors and to follow up with their coach regularly.

Finally, the person who is ready for business coaching isn’t afraid to display a certain level of vulnerability. After all, coaching will almost inevitably include constructive criticism, and it can be hard for anyone to open themselves up to that. But the clients with whom business coaches work best are those who aren’t afraid to share both their great successes and their worst failures.

Business coaching is a two-way street. Business coaches don’t have magic solutions they can apply topically to just anyone and get great results. While it will always be essential to thoroughly check the background, experience, and track record of business coaches before hiring one, don’t forget how important it is to know whether the potential coaching client is ready to be coached. I can tell you from experience that readiness on the part of the client is a key ingredient in a successful coaching relationship. If you’re interested, I encourage you to learn more about my leadership coaching services.

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