How Coachable Are You?

This was the title of a blog I found written by Steve Keating, Selling Skills Manager with Toro Company.  In keeping with my experience, if I spend 10 minutes on Twitter I’ll learn something new and/or find a resource I can use. Stranded in an airport with delayed flights I went to Twitter and found someone sending me to Steve’s blog.  I also follow Steve on Twitter @LeadToday.

As I read Keating’s blog, How Coachable Are You? November 30, 2012, it struck me that this would be a great topic for the start of a faculty meeting or PLC session….a great topic for an instructional coach to facilitate.

Keating identifies that in sports the phrase, “defense wins games”, is often accurate but in the area of self improvement defense loses.
“The more defensive you are when someone is giving you advice the harder it will be for you to succeed.”(Keating)
It strikes me that it would be great if this knowledge and experience was part of teacher training. Remaining open to input is a critical skill to being the best that one can be. That input can come from colleagues, supervisors, students and parents.
Just recently instructional coaches in a large district shared with me how open their beginning teachers were to the whole concept of coaching. That openness (coachability) diminished with most of the experienced staff. What happens that causes that? What changes do we need to make to instill that openness of beginning teachers to create a career of being a lifelong learner, seeing input from everyone as a resource? How about putting that challenge out to your new teachers? Congratulate them on the professionalism of their openness and then challenge them to keep it.
 Keating describes the need for trust in the coach; he suggests we must trust them enough to let our defenses down and really listen to what they have to say. He points out that if we respond with, “Yes, but…” (spoken or thought), we are not really listening for the possibilities in what they are offering.
 Coachable people are great listeners. They are willing to learn from anyone. They consider all advice; even the advice they eventually discard was considered for its possibilities. (Keating)
 Early in my presenting/consulting career, I learned the joy and sometimes pain of reading evaluations of my work several times a week. When I’d read through a stack of 100 participants’ comments where maybe 75% were excellent, 20% good and 5% terrible, I tended to wonder what problem the 5% had that prevented them from finding value in the work I had done. As my confidence grew in my own abilities I learned that the negative evaluations frequently contained some seed of an opportunity for improvement. That comment might be what caused some participants to have a good experience instead of an excellent one. The good comments often didn’t flag the point for improvement the way the poor ones did.
I frequently state that the role of leaders is to “model the model”. Whatever behaviors we are seeking in our staffs should be continually modeled by us. So school leaders should…
– model publicly, being extremely coachable
– model constantly seeking feedback
-model really listening to the feedback
-model changing from paying attention to feedback
Isn’t this what we’d want our students to internalize?
 The most successful people learn something everyday and they are willing to learn from anyone. (Keating)
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2 Responses to “ How Coachable Are You? ”

  1. C. Bell Says:

    This message reaches beyond our professional work and into all aspects of our lives. Great post! It’s going into my “Leadership and Career” LiveBinder immediately as I know I’ll be referring back to it.

  2. Stephen G. Barkley Says:

    Thanks Chuck, see the Blog from LeadToday and follow on twittwe @LeadToday for additional insights. steve

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Steve Barkley

For the past 30 years, Steve has served as a consultant to school districts, teacher organizations, state departments of education, and colleges and universities nationally and internationally, facilitating the changes necessary for them to reach students and successfully prepare them for the 21st century. Read more…

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