Source | Forbes : By Henna Inam
In my executive coaching work, one of the most important traits that differentiates high potential leaders is their learning agility . In succession planning discussions, organizations identify leaders who are learning agile because these people quickly learn how to be effective in new and different situations. Organizations hire executive coaches to prepare these leaders for challenging and stretch assignments. Based on my work with these executives, I have distilled eight practices that differentiate the coaching clients who made the greatest gains vs. those that did not. Whether you are being coached by your manager or by an executive coach, these practices will make the difference in your learning agility and impact.
Coachable leaders create a clear vision for themselves. They are passionate about getting clarity on goals and the impact they want to make. When the going gets tough (and it often does get difficult to break old behavior patterns, particularly in high stress situations), coachable leaders have a clear “eye on the prize.” They have a clear purpose, a passion for learning and growth, or a set of values which are more important to them than all the internal resistance to change that comes up in the coaching process.
Coachable leaders practice curiosity. They practice getting curious about both their strengths as well as what can derail them. They are curious about how they impact others. They are hungry for feedback and really listen with an open mind. They lower their interest in “being right” and increase their interest in learning something new, even if that means challenging their self-concept.
Coachable leaders prioritize and take action. As senior leaders in organizations, we are pulled in lots of urgent and important directions. The people who get the most out of a coaching process are willing to commit to the “work.” The work includes making time for the coaching sessions and following through on the commitments made in each session. Whether that work is to experiment with new behaviors, or to have difficult conversations, highly coachable leaders make their learning and growth a priority.
Coachable leaders practice accountability. Instead of blaming external circumstances or others for the result in any situation, coachable leaders are willing to notice their own part in the outcome.
Coachable leaders practice experimentation. The coaching process works only when leaders are willing to experiment with new attitudes and behaviors. From this experimentation, new learning occurs, new neural pathways are established in the brain, and new leadership habits eventually formed.
Coachable leaders practice reflection. In our fast-paced, always-on work environments, most of our leadership happens on auto-pilot. Just as most of us drive the same way to work, most of us lead by habit. Leaders who are learning agile build reflection time in their schedules. They slow down. They notice their impact in a new situation. They reflect and proactively choose their behavior rather than operating from habit. I recommend a mindfulness and journaling practice to each of my coaching clients because it has a demonstrated impact on their emotional intelligence and learning capacity.