Are You Coachable? – (Another Reflection on the Jill Abramson Firing)

“How can you improve if you are never wrong? If you don’t admit a mistake and take responsibility for it, you’re bound to make the same one again.”
Pat Summitt, legendary basketball coach

He urged Abramson to be a better manager. The Times’s human-resources department helped her find an executive coach. “When you have someone who is talented and doing a good job journalistically, you try to keep them,” he said. But it eventually became clear to him, he said, that the situation had become “very frayed with Dean, and the rest of the masthead.”
Sarah Ellison, Arthur Sulzberger’s First Interview About the Turmoil at The New York Times: “I Would Have Done It Differently”


am_i_coachable_postpicSo, are you coachable?

The story of the New York Times’ Jill Abramson firing raises so many management and self-development issues. (I’ve already written once about it here). I have no idea if she was/is coachable, or not. Or, if they got the wrong executive coach. Or, if they waited too late to start the process.  (And, by the way, maybe Mr. Sulzberger could benefit from some good coaching himself).

But, it prompts some thoughts, doesn’t it?

Here are a couple.

What happens if you wait too late to get someone the coaching they need?
What happens if a person is simply not coachable?

I understand all of this. If a person needs some coaching, and you wait until things are pretty close to desperate, it may be too late. The bridges may be burned; the damage may be done. And the people may just be so bruised and polarized that any coaching would be too little too late.

But, if you build into any system good coaching from the get-go; if a person is in a position of such influence (within an organization that has the resources), maybe regular coaching just needs to be part of the deal all along.

But, back to the question – are you coachable? Am I coachable?

I think I am completely coachable – when it comes to learning new, helpful tools, technologies, software, apps… I want to learn new tools!

I’m not sure I’m quite as coachable when it comes to ways that I really mess up, that have to do with my “personality,” my “this is who I am” issues.

When I teach persuasion, I say that in one sense, there is no such thing as persuasion. That is, I really can’t persuade you of anything. What I can do is give you the tools, the thoughts, the reasons, the arguments, so that you can persuade yourself. I can point things out to you – you have to provide the “will I act on this” part of the formula. In other words, all persuasion is actually self-persuasion.

Same thing with coaching. I’m not sure that a coach can “coach someone”… if, they are not willing and ready and open to being coached.  The word for this trait is “humility” – a willingness to admit that “I could be wrong,” and ” Yes, I agree — I have some things to work on personally.”

And, so, the real test of “am I coachable” is, am I committed to self-development, self-improvement, self-correction? If not, then no, I am not coachable. But, if so, then I will welcome (or, at least, accept) someone helping to point out what I need to work on.

But, I’ve got to admit—the closer it is to a “this is who I am issue,” the less enjoyable the process is likely to be.



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