09 Mar 2021
The Importance of Being Coachable
Some of our primary activities at the Sasin SEC involve acceleration, incubation, and other forms of startup mentorship. A prerequisite to effective mentorship is coachability. Being coachable, however, does not mean that a founder simply follows the advice of their mentor. First and foremost, it is about receptiveness to feedback:
- Do you listen closely to feedback?
- Do you make sure you understand a question before responding?
- Do you actually answer the question being asked?
- Can you remain calm, respectful, and non-defensive when challenged?
- Can you temporarily let go of your established beliefs to consider new ones?
These characteristics reflect a growth mindset. At the same time, a coachable founder should simultaneously have the confidence to disagree and challenge others. Mentors, advisers, and investors are far from perfect, so we want you to have the courage to disagree. The key is how you disagree:
- Do you thoughtfully consider feedback before disagreeing?
- Have you tested your assumptions and talked to stakeholders?
- Can you articulate the thought process behind your position?
- Can you remain respectful and positive when you disagree?
Although I have been talking about coachability here in a very specific context, this principle is not at all exclusive to entrepreneurs. It actually applies to almost all occupations and lines of work. Regardless of your organization and role, coachability impacts your ability to grow and your access to new opportunities. So ask yourself, “How coachable am I?”