InsideOut Development

6 Traits of Coachable People and How to Spot Them

by Lindsay Bragg


Call it “teachable fit.” Call it “emotional intelligence.” Call it “soft skills,” but don’t call it optional. These monikers all fit under the broader umbrella of coachability, the most sought-after skill in business today, from the front desk to the warehouse to the board room. Coachability builds business, creates leaders, and drives decisions that lead to the actions that deliver your competitive advantage.

According to the Harvard Business Review, “[new] grads arrive in workplaces with current technical knowledge they are eager to apply, but have a lot to learn about other aspects of succeeding in their new organizations…To ‘future proof’ your business, you need to fill and maintain a pipeline of people steadily gaining experience and advancing toward leadership roles.”

The key to doing that lies in hiring coachable people. Don’t confuse a friendly people-person with someone who is coachable — most applicants warm in an interview. Instead, look for these traits to better predict coachability in your candidate.

1. Humility. Does the candidate ask for help? Involve others? Share recognition and own their shortcomings?

2. Commitment. Do they have a strong sense of perseverance and grit? Are they willing to get out of their comfort zone if it serves the team?

3. Self-awareness. Can they assess how their actions impact others? Do they accept feedback even if it isn’t positive?

4. Willingness to Learn. Are they inquisitive and curious? Do they ask questions? Are they open to trying new things? This demonstrates the flexibility and resilience needed for cochability.

5. Faith. Do they demonstrate trust in others and a willingness to be vulnerable? Only through willingness to be imperfect and teachable can an employee be coached.

6. Openness. How do they react to criticism and correction? Ask the candidate to prepare a role-relevant presentation. Watch how your feedback is received. Gladly and openly? Or bristling and hesitant? Did they incorporate your comments the second time they delivered the presentation?

Learn more about why coachability matters and how to spot it in your candidates. Download our free ebook, here.

Category: Coaching Teams Coaching Culture

Picture of Lindsay Bragg

Lindsay is a Communications Specialist at InsideOut Development and holds a degree in Public Relations from Brigham Young University. She’s also worked as a newspaper reporter and account director at a PR agency. When she’s not researching or writing great content on nearly every HR topic under the sun, she volunteers teaching leadership skills to children and adults with disabilities at an equine assisted therapy center.

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