Managing the perception of coachability

What does the research tell us?

Bryan et al. (2017) used a dataset of high-growth startups in a university incubator and found that it was possible to predict which firms were more likely to follow advice than others. Firms that followed advice from a mentor were likely to be newer and smaller teams and were thus perceived as more coachable than firms that did not follow advice and who were seen as stubborn (Bryan et al., 2017). They also found that the reason some firms were not following advice could be because they already possessed the capabilities relating to the advice given, which may not have been easy to be for the mentor to observe.

What are the recommendations for practice?

This study suggests that mentors should be open-minded about why their advice may not be followed by entrepreneurs. They may then perceive entrepreneurs as uncoachable or stubborn, but there could be information or capabilities that mentors are not aware of, or able to observe. Equally, entrepreneurs should aim to ensure that they explain to their mentor why they may not be following their advice, so they can avoid being perceived as uncoachable or stubborn.

Read the full paper:

Cite the paper:

Bryan, K. A., Tilcsik, A., & Zhu, B. (2017). Which Entrepreneurs are Coachable and Why? American Economic Review, 107, 312-316.
DOI: 10.1257/aer.p20171010