As an executive coach, I am repeatedly asked the following question:

“How do you know if someone is “coachable”?” In fact, I just had a discussion with a potential client on this topic recently.

From my perspective, being coachable as a leader means being willing, ready, and able to do some serious self-reflection about your motivations, intentions, and behaviors, and about the impact those behaviors have on your environment and on others. It involves the ability and willingness to solicit, accept, and internalize the feedback and perceptions of others and take targeted actions to make behavioral changes that will maximize your overall impact. It requires feverishly challenging your own beliefs and assumptions, an admission that you don’t always have all the answers, and an ability to observe yourself both from the inside out and the outside in, with a unique combination of humility and grounded confidence.

What does that look like? Well, sometimes it’s easier to answer that question with what it doesn’t look like. Here are five signs you aren’t coachable:

1. You see yourself as a victim and continuously blame others for mistakes or circumstances

Every circumstance has a storyline to it. If the story you tell yourself about your team, your boss, your peers, and your company always has you starring as the victim and all the others out to get you, it will take a serious shift in perspective to look at the storyline differently. While coaching can help you challenge your assumptions, see other perspectives, and create a more empowering storyline, you have to be willing to step out of the blame game and see yourself as a player and contributor to the drama.

2.  You don’t want or like feedback

Being able to compare your intentions versus the actual impact of your behaviors by soliciting the feedback of others is a critical part of leader development. Since reality is in the eyes of the beholder, and perception, whether you agree with it or think it is fair or not, is someone’s version of reality; understanding perceptions others have of you is a critical part of understanding your impact on others. If you don’t care what others think or don’t want to know, it is difficult to assess the impact you are having and make necessary adjustments and course corrections.

3.  You feel like you are too busy to spend time self-reflecting

Every leader I work with is busy. The nature of our contemporary lives involves trying to do too much and not having enough time in the day or week to do it all. If you are too busy to take a time out to look in the mirror and analyze how you are doing things and who you are being, but instead focus on just doing them, then you will not have time to spend on developing yourself and maximizing your impact as a leader.

4.  You want someone to give you quick fixes and tips

Leadership coaching is not leadership training. While the process includes a discussion of tips and resources, you do most of the heavy lifting. You do the self-reflection and dig deep for the answers to the questions about yourself and what you want to create and change that only you have the answers to. You are the one who creates a plan and then takes action on it. You are the one who makes changes in your behavior. It is not a passive endeavor, a data dump from the coach, or a crash diet.

5.  You don’t think you have anything more to learn or self-reflect about

If you think you already know most everything about leadership since you’ve been around the block a few times and that there are very few things that are new, you are probably right. Most leadership concepts and behaviors are pretty timeless and simple. However, this fixed mindset makes it very difficult for you to continuously challenge your own assumptions, see things from differing perspectives, and analyze the impact of your behaviors in new situations.

As always, drop me a note with your thoughts on the subject.  I love hearing them.