“Years ago, at the great Bolshoi Ballet, auditions for the troupe were conducted among 8 year old girls. That’s because it took ten years to become great. How did the auditions work? The teachers weren’t looking for the best dancers. They were looking for the dancers who took coaching the best. The rest would come with time.”
This from marketing guru Seth Godin’s blog is well worth a read.
Not that I agree with all of it. For example, challenging the coach’s credentials makes a lot of sense to me. It is a sure fire sign that the coach is advising (if your gonna tell me what I should be doing you had better be an expert) rather than coaching – which is a process that helps the learner to find their own path to improvement. Of course occasionally a coach might go into ‘prescriptive’ mode – but not often.
The quality we should be looking in people who will operate at the highest level is not ‘coachability’ but ‘learnability’. How good are they at learning? How curious are they? How much new stuff will they try? Will they try it for long enough to see if it really works. Will they learn something even if it is not made conveniently packaged in their ‘preferred learning style’?
It is this hunger for performance improvement that really gives the edge.
How do you recruit for it?
How do your management practices nurture it?
How do you model it?
How do you manage those who have lost it?