Have you ever noticed how every martial arts movie seems to have a scene in which the protagonist, beaten and defeated, must seek the instruction of a master?
What you are less likely to have noticed in these movies is how the master tends to react. The master never unquestioningly offers his instruction or quickly takes in every individual that knocks on his door. Even the place where the master makes his home is remote and uninviting. After climbing a mountain or crossing a desert the individual seeking help finally arrives at the master’s door, only to find that the master seems intent on turning him away. Finally, when the individual demonstrates his perseverance the master begrudgingly agree to teach him, but only after the trainee completes a series of tests.
Why the tests?
Because the master is trying to verify that the pupil has the characteristics necessary for success. If any of the critical characteristics are missing, then there is no point in even taking the first step in training the individual. This selectivity is not the product of arrogance in the master. Rather, it is a means of preventing many would-be pupils from wasting their time and the time of the master. Once the master finally accepts the individual as a student, a special bond is formed. From that point forward, if the student fails, then in a sense, so does the master.
Although I don’t claim to be a guru or master, I do have three requirements for anyone that I coach to become a better leader. My clients must be honorable, hungry, and hone-able. If they have these three characteristics then I know that they are coachable.
“Having or showing honesty and good moral character” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
I said honorable not perfect. None of us are perfect and you don’t need to be perfect in order to grow as a leader. In the age that we live in, leaders can have many different leadership styles, but all of them require that those following the leader do so voluntarily. Coercive, deceptive, or fear-based leadership styles do not have longevity and I wouldn’t want to promote them even if they did.
I want people to follow you because they respect you for your competency and your character. My goal is to be on the side of the good guys. I want to know that if you become better at leading, you will use this skill to make other people’s lives better, not just your own.
To find out if you’re honorable, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do I care about doing the right thing?
- Do I care about how I accomplish something as much as what I accomplish?
- Do I care about others?
- Have I made myself accountable to other people?
- Do I have principles that I try to live by?
- Do I have values that people admire? Have I sacrificed to uphold those values?
Trying to coach someone who does not truly desire to become a better leader is like pushing on a rope. This is why I’m only interested in coaching individuals who have requested a leadership coach, not those who are on the fence about the whole idea or who are looking for a coach because their boss made them do it. A good coaching client needs to recognize deficiencies in his leadership abilities. He needs to be hungry for change in himself and in his organization. Coaching is not cheap—either in terms of money or time—but those who are hungry enough for it will pay the price.
“To make more acute, intense, or effective” – Merriam-Webster Dictionary
Are you willing and able to have your leadership skills sharpened? Before you answer, you should know that becoming a better leader is not just an additive process but a subtractive one as well, which means that it can be difficult and painful at times. Changing an organization is hard, but changing yourself is harder. It requires vulnerability, honesty, and a willingness to fundamentally change how you think and do things.
If you think that you have these three H’s, I would be happy to begin a conversation about whether or not I can help you become a better leader.