The Four Cs Coachee Mindset:
Keys to a High ROI Executive Coaching Partnership

🕑 4 minutes read | Sep 26 2023 | By Cheryl Haynes, TTA Learning Consultant

As the war on talent continues to present recruitment and retention challenges in every industry, progressive companies have become more amenable to engaging the expertise of an executive coach as a development differentiator for their emerging leaders. Where before executive coaching was offered exclusively to executive-level leaders, I’m now meeting more new engagement prospects who have been identified as top future senior leadership talent for their respective firms. It’s a refreshing trend.

Working with an executive coach, if you are offered the opportunity to do so, is a significant investment in your development and success as a leader. As such, it’s important to adopt the mindset that I’ve seen modeled by my clients who have achieved the greatest benefits and professional growth during the time we’ve worked together.

I call this mindset my “Four Cs Coachee Mindset”. The traits that make up the Four Cs Coachee Mindset are Coachability, Conscientious, Curiosity, and Chemistry.

  1. Coachability; In a recent article in Forbes, coachability is touted as the “new leadership frontier”. In this article, the author describes the value of a temperament that is receptive to constructive feedback. Coachable leaders appreciate the value of 360-degree assessment data, paired with stakeholder input, and strive to incorporate the views of others into their development and how they ‘show up’ as leaders. They understand that we all inherently have personal preference biases and blind spots, that once revealed, can fuel their growth, presence, and overall impact as leaders.
  2. Conscientious: By definition, a conscientious person is always looking for ways to do their best work. They are careful and attentive to detail and always willing to go the extra mile to better themselves. The highest return on the organization’s executive coaching investment occurs when the coachee is willing to take affirmative steps to use what they’ve learned about themselves during the engagement discovery phase, as a gift meant to elevate their impact and performance. Being conscientious, in tandem with being coachable, makes for a powerful leadership development experience.
  3. Curiosity: To be curious denotes a mindset of experimentation. A curious person is always asking questions and seeking out new information. They are eager to learn new things and expand their knowledge. They know they are destined for more, possessing career aspirations that require them to stay vigilant and always on the cusp of ‘what’s next’ in their profession. They’re willing to ask others who have traveled a similar professional path before them for wisdom and insights that have led to their success. They’re not afraid to take on stretch assignments or to jump in to solve a problem for the benefit of the organization. This trait tends to be one that the most successful coachee partners have always possessed since very early in their careers, or even from childhood.
  4. Chemistry: Although each trait described above is critically important for the coachee to possess ahead of the coaching engagement, this final C is a key ingredient for a successful executive coaching engagement. Ideally, the leader/professional has been presented with the opportunity to select their executive coach from a short list of professionals with the expertise to meet the expectations and objectives for their engagement.

The most effective coach/coachee pairings feel seamless and the conversation seems to flow organically. Within short order, when the chemistry is right, your executive coaching sessions develop into a relationship of candor, vulnerability, and trust. The safe space created during an executive coaching engagement creates the appropriate container for the coachee to learn and explore aspects of their personality and their impact on others. In this safe space, there is time and opportunity provided to prepare novel ways to experiment and grow ‘real time’ in between coaching sessions.

At the end of each chemistry meeting with a new prospect, I remind them to leverage the opportunity to seriously consider chemistry when they select the person with whom they believe they will be most comfortable sharing and partnering on their exciting new leadership development journey. I also, have recently, started to share my Four Cs of Coachee Mindset in each meeting, as a primer to what they should expect from themselves throughout their coaching engagement.

There is a lot of ground that you will cover with your executive coach throughout the coaching engagement. The experience will not only raise your awareness, profile, and impact as a leader, but I’ve consistently heard coachee clients rave about the value added of having an executive coach partner with whom they authentically connect. When all is aligned, executive coaching is an amazingly impactful development opportunity, unequaled by any training program that you could attend. And frankly, it’s why I can sincerely say, I love my job.


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