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How Coachable Are You?

Pick a number, any number, and then multiply it by 1,000. Your answer will undoubtedly fall short of the numerous coaching models that exist and are currently being devised. The creation of a personalised coaching model is a coach's means to announce to the world, “I’ve consolidated all my skills, experience and knowledge into this framework”, “I’m frightfully important” and “I have found THE answer to coaching”.

Clearly I’m being slightly facetious as coaching models integrate ideas and theories from different academic fields to present a useful structure and framework for coaching. However, a common theme across the majority of models is a dominant focus on coaching as a systems process or series of desired qualities possessed or developed by the coach. The client or “coachee” generally takes a back seat, though coaches are (thankfully!) beginning to shift their focus as acknowledged by Rostron, “A coaching conversation is about the client, not the coach” (2009).

Stuart Haden (see Note 1) advocates this alternate pathway and examines coaching from the perspective of the coachee. His research highlights “employees only possess 60% of the skills required to be an effective coachee” (Haden, 2015) which isn’t a great statistic to guarantee successful coaching results. His 3Ps of coachability: Possibilities (Authenticity, Change and Emotions), Perception (Curiosity, Challenge and Questions) and Performance (Goals, Systems and Energy) concentrate on the space before coaching, where thorough preparation heightens commitment, motivation and receptiveness, then ultimately improves engagement, ROI and overall success.

So back to the question “How coachable are you?"

It’s a difficult one and the answer changes over time. In 2009, fresh out of the green machine after twenty-six years living and breathing an institutional routine, I was utterly un-coachable. A quick mental appreciation against Turak’s (2011) five distinct characteristics that link to successful coaching results illustrates my embryonic state and lack of skills required to be an effective coachee.

Humility: Doubt I had a strand in my body.

Action bias: It was ALL about the action!! Generally with minimal thought or reflection before hand.

Purity of purpose: Post Army “gap year” drift = no purpose.

Surrender control: Certified control freak.

Faith: Utterly clueless.

My personal journey of discovery to fill “a gaping black hole” (as noted in my journal entry) led me across New Zealand, SE Asia, parts of South America and Europe by bike, foot, bus, boat, car and plane; sometimes accompanied by strangers, sometimes together with close friends, sometimes as Expedition Leader and sometimes accountable only for myself. I emerged the other side a strong advocate that everyone (including coaches) benefits from working in a coaching partnership. I’m fortunate to have worked with several amazingly supportive and experienced coaches who have balanced support and challenge so our conversations achieve transformative results across my work and life. My coachability continues to evolve as my mindset opens to possibilities, my perception shifts and my performance improves. There are still days when I’m more coachable than others’ though part of the journey is to identify and acknowledge these thoughts.

If the thought of working with a performance, executive, business, life, confidence or XXX (see Note 2) coach has crossed your mind, invest some time and money on a bit of self-reflection first. Take heed from the key “7Ps” military phrase (Prior Preparation & Planning Prevents P*** Poor Performance) and equip yourself with Haden's "3Ps" to ensure you have 100% of the skills necessary to be an effective coachee and optimise your success from coaching.

Photo 1: Weapons training on the range in Kabul, Afghanistan during Operation FINGAL with Allied Command Europe Mobile Force Land (AMF(L)) in March 2002.

Photo 2: On the Desert Road, Waiouru to Taihape, North Island, New Zealand. Auckland to Greymouth cycle (1,454km) over 26 days in April & May 2009.

Photo 3: Admiring the views during the Chamonix to Zermatt Haute Route trek (200km with 15,200m ascent) over 10 days in September 2009.

Note 1: I am working closely with Stuart Haden (author of the book 'It's Not About The Coach’) to become an accredited member of his workshop delivery team.

Note 2: Insert coaching brand name or specialty of your choice here.


Haden, S. (2012) It’s Not About The Coach – Getting the most from coaching in business, sport and life. Hants: Business Books.

Haden, S. (2015). Storm Beach – Authentic Leadership. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 October 15].

Rostron, S, S. (2009) Business Coaching International. [ONLINE] Available at:

ess%20Coaching%20Ch5.pdf [Accessed 27 October 15].

Turak, A. (2011). Are you Coachable? Five Steps to Coachability. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 27 October 15]

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