“My best skill was that I was coachable. I was a sponge and aggressive to learn.”
– Michael Jordan

Not every organization can be as dominant in their field as the Chicago Bulls were in the 1990s. But every organization can strive for greater success leveraging a coaching culture. And one thing more than any other is essential for building teams that don’t just win but continue to get better year after year.


That means recruiting employees who want to be coached. And making sure that managers see themselves, first and foremost, as coaches.

At Marketsmith Inc., a New Jersey marketing agency with a client roster focused on DTC brands, we continue to grow based on a coaching culture, that puts employee growth at our core.

No better authority than Michael Jordan is proof that the very best performers want to be coached. Olympic athletes, who are the best in the world at what they do, have multiple coaches. Top-ranked tennis players travel the globe with a team of coaches at their side. The world’s best actors, musicians and CEOs spend tens of thousands of dollars each year on personal coaching.

These individuals accept that they always have more to learn. Furthermore, they recognize that the best players don’t always become the best coaches. Phil Jackson was never a superstar basketball player, but he went on to become the winningest coach in NBA history. Richard Williams never even played professional tennis, but he coached his daughters Venus and Serena toward becoming two of the best players in the history of the sport. At Marketsmith, we spend considerable time not just coaching our players, but on identifying which players might also become our next generation of great coaches.

Identifying Who Is Most Coachable

When it comes to coaching, I find most people fall into three groups:

  1. The first group doesn’t want feedback and coaching; they are sure they know everything.
  2. The second group believes they want feedback and coaching, but their pride prevents them from fully accepting it. These are the people for whom the same issues consistently come up in performance reviews.
  3. The third group actively seeks out coaching and feedback, and acts on the advice. They will do anything to get better and rarely repeat the same mistakes when pointed out. These are the individuals who become superstars in their field.

Not everyone is coachable, but this trait is one of the most important characteristics to have on your team.

A Few Indicators That Someone Is Coachable

  1. Humility: Is the person able to admit what they don’t know or can’t do?
  2. Commitment: When working on a difficult task, do they demonstrate perseverance and grit?
  3. Self-Awareness: Do they recognize how their actions impact others?
  4. Willingness to Learn: Are they naturally curious and inquisitive?
  5. Vulnerability: Are they able to be open and trust others?

The success of every woman should be the inspiration to another. We should raise each other up. Make sure you’re very strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.”
– Serena Williams

On a daily basis, you must take time to focus on role modeling, respect and encouragement as key ingredients that we’ve made central to our company’s culture of coaching. It is important that players and coaches can relate to one another. Empathy is essential.

Even Coaches Need Coaching

If you are looking to develop your team, identify and invest in the people who are coachable. And look for these traits when recruiting new employees. Don’t let natural talent outweigh coachability, as all talent eventually hits its ceiling when the challenge gets more difficult.

This goes to every level of your organization. Even the coaches need coaching. Even presidents. If you want to be great, are you willing to be coached? If not, what is holding you back?

I guarantee that focusing on your companies coaching culture will not only improve your organization’s winning record, but it will also improve the spirit of your entire team. It’s as sure a bet as the Bulls were to win an NBA championship in the 1990s.

Or that Marketsmith, and our employees, will continue to get better year after year as the leading performance marketing agency in New Jersey.