Is “Coaching Readiness” a Litmus Test for Executive Fitness?
When executives “are open-minded and enterprising enough to seek help, they can transcend any number of challenging scenarios, resulting in improvements in both their business and their quality of life.”
Most HR and talent professionals would agree that openness to coaching is expected in candidates for senior leadership positions. And the prevalence of executive coaching resources certainly seems to indicate high demand.
But not all leaders are open—or open enough—to the challenges and rewards of receiving coaching. “Managers and leaders with a fixed mindset believe their personal success is a result of their innate talent,” and so are unlikely to welcome coaching or perceive any potential benefit from it. (6 Signs You Have a Growth Mindset). But executives who are not thinking of continued self-improvement are not in the right position. And some leaders—those of multicultural backgrounds, in particular—may have certain culture-based perceptions about coaching that could limit the effectiveness of coaching, or even negate their acceptance of it.
What underlies a lack of openness to coaching?
Researchers have described the following as characteristics of “uncoachable” people: “Having a fixed mind-set, being forced into coaching, lacking trust and openness, and feeling manipulated by performance management in the guise of coaching.” (Executive Coaching: A Critical Review and Recommendations for Advancing the Practice)
This aligns with our experience at Springboards, where we have found some coaching candidates leery of what may get ‘leaked’ to HR or live on forever in HR files. Such lack of trust can increase at the more senior levels, sometimes accompanied by perceptions of bias or lack of fairness or inclusivity among top management. As a result, these executives can feel isolated, and may come to believe that any performance-related suggestion is remedial and not really about enhancement or investment in their future. In such situations, as.....