How Coachable are you?

Last updated on July 28, 2023

How Coachable are you?

Michael Jordan once said, “My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.” Although How CoachableMichael Jordan was arguably the greatest basketball player of all time, he still needed a coach to view his performance from a different and unique perspective while providing feedback, guidance, and motivation. Being coachable is a transformative trait that empowers leaders to achieve their full potential. By adopting a growth mindset, seeking feedback, and becoming adaptable, individuals can accelerate their personal and professional development.

One step in becoming more coachable is developing a growth mindset. A growth mindset is defined by a belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through dedication and hard work. Developing this type of belief can start at any level in one’s career stage. A study by Mueller and Dweck (1998) found that students with a growth mindset displayed a more positive response to feedback and demonstrated a higher willingness to learn from it. They were more likely to revise their work, apply feedback, and continuously refine their skills. By adopting a growth mindset, leaders demonstrate their commitment to personal advancement and take proactive steps toward achieving their goals.

As mentioned above, part of a growth mindset is the desire to seek feedback. Research by Clutterbuck (2016) indicates that employees who actively seek feedback, listen to suggestions, and show a willingness to learn are more likely to excel in their roles and progress in their careers. Embracing feedback from mentors, supervisors, or coaches can provide valuable insights, help identify areas for improvement, and facilitate the acquisition of new skills and knowledge. If you are interested in receiving practical feedback, our Learning and Leadership Development department offers a 360 degree feedback program. This program asks leaders to perform a self-evaluation and invites 10-12 direct reports, internal customers, and internal peers to provide specific feedback on their performance. To request a 360 assessment, email Amy Lasater ([email protected]) or Kelly Floyd ([email protected]).

Developing a growth mindset and more awareness through constructive feedback will advance a leader tremendously in his or her career; however, one final skill that is essential in the rapidly changing marketplace is adaptability. A study by Edmondson et al. (2019) suggests that individuals who are open to coaching are more likely to adapt to new situations, acquire new knowledge, and effectively navigate complex challenges. Being coachable encourages individuals to embrace change, experiment with novel approaches, and develop the resilience needed to thrive in dynamic environments. The ability to adapt to new situations and bounce back from setbacks is a hallmark of resilience and great leadership.

After examining strategies to become more coachable, it is important to look in the mirror and ask yourself, “How Coachable am I?” Through specific adjectives in this table below from, you can determine which category you fall under:  coachable or uncoachable. Once you come to a conclusion about your tendencies, you can make a plan to become more coachable and unlock your full potential.

Coachable Uncoachable
Authentic Prideful
Vulnerable Guarded
Candid Defensive
Great Listener Hears Doesn’t Listen
Eager Listener Uninterested
Growth Mindset Fixed Mindset
Hard Worker Lacks Effort
Committed Interested




Clutterbuck, D. (2016). Coaching the team at work. In Coaching the Team at Work (pp. 11-21). Hachette UK.

Day, D. V., Harrison, M. M., & Halpin, S. M. (2018). An Integrative Approach to Leader Development: Connecting Adult Development, Identity, and Expertise. Routledge.

Dweck, C. S., Walton, G. M., & Cohen, G. L. (2014). Academic tenacity: Mindsets and skills that promote long-term learning. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.

Eades, J. (2022) Why Being Coachable is the Key to Your Professional Success. Linkedin.

Edmondson, A., King, E., & Bartel, C. A. (2019). What is learning-oriented leadership, and why do we need it? In S. Schuckert, M. Vaiman, & F. Wang (Eds.), The Routledge Companion to International Human Resource Management (pp. 285-301). Routledge.

Levy, S. R., & Dweck, C. S. (2017). Mindsets and Social Relationships: Implications for Developmental Intervention. Child Development, 88(6), 1959-1972.

Mueller, C. M., & Dweck, C. S. (1998). Praise for intelligence can undermine children’s motivation and performance. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 75(1), 33-52.


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