The Case for Coachability

Research Findings and Notes

Highly coachable leaders

Are less likely to experience career derailment due to blind spots

A 2015 study of 93 derailed leaders vs. a general population of 500 leaders at a Fortune 500 global manufacturing company showed that derailed leaders are rated about 30% lower in their interest in seeking and acting upon feedback. Further analysis showed that the derailed leaders had rated their own abilities significantly higher than other raters in 360-degree survey assessments. (1)

This phenomenon of overrating oneself has been found in other research studies of derailed leaders. A similar study of derailed leaders found lack of feedback or inability to hear it as a determining factor in failure. (2)

Highly coachable leaders

Have higher overall leadership effectiveness

A study of over 51,000 leaders found a strong correlation between overall leadership effectiveness (as measured by 360-degree survey ratings) and higher levels of coachability. (3)

Highly coachable leaders continue to improve their abilities and impact over time by using feedback and input from others. Higher scores in areas such as influence, inspiration, and innovation indicate coachability as one way a leader can be seen positively by others. Published studies on world-class performers demonstrate the value of feedback as a greater factor in increased abilities over innate talent. (4)

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Highly coachable leaders

Have increased employee engagement

2.5x greater engagement

A study of over 45,000 leaders found those rated with greater degree of coachability were also more likely to have more engaged employees. The top 20% of highly coachable leaders had 2.5x greater levels of employee engagement. (5)

Highly coachable leaders

Have higher performance and potential ratings

A series of organization studies report that leaders rated as having higher levels of coachability were also more likely to be rated as having greater performance and potential to move into higher levels in the organization. One study of nearly 5,000 leaders found highly coachable leaders’ performance ratings to be 20% greater than bottom performers. (6)

Similar links between performance ratings and coachability were found in other studies measuring the potential to advance. Another study reinforced the link between coachability and value; it found that individuals who proactively seek feedback are more highly regarded by their managers. (7)


Organizations reward the results of highly coachable leaders, and invest in their future growth

These findings reinforce the value of highly coachability leaders to have:

An extensive list of research references on the case for coachability are included in my book, “Coachability: The Leadership Superpower.”

Have You Read

Coachability: The Leadership Superpower

“Kevin Wilde nails the real reasons that promising careers of leaders get derailed. After personally witnessing surprising failures, Kevin uses his vast corporate experience to help today’s leaders avoid career trouble and accelerate their impact and growth with practical and proven insight. If you want to succeed as a leader, I recommend reading this book as quickly as possible.”
—Kevin Oakes, CEO, Institute for Corporate Productivity; bestselling author, Culture Renovation