Coaching Women to Lead (Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge)

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The tools can be of a strategic nature, of a team-building nature or simply to cover areas that are new to the leader. For balanced leadership we would argue these include visibility, resilience, being strategic, EI, making decisions, acting intellectually, behaving as a leader and being a meaningful leader. Of these leadership skills and behaviours, probably the most important to women right now include being strategic, developing vision skills and building confidence and self-esteem.

A good coach can accelerate both the decision making around specific issues and the maturity of thinking strategically about an industry or a business unit. Additionally, senior women may choose to acquire specialist knowledge in certain areas of strategic analysis that is particularly relevant to their role or industry. This ranges from scenario planning to business modelling or strategic valuation.

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There are many reasons given why women seem less likely to develop vision at work than men: they tend to be more task-based, and often display vision elsewhere, in the community for example. However, it is important that they develop vision and use it at work to get on. Coaching for this can stem from building a very personal vision creating a vision board, mind-mapping, etc.

Resilience is another area that senior women often want help with. Modern business leaders continually travel, often eat the wrong things at the wrong time and often accumulate a sleep deficit. They drive themselves hard, drawing on outstanding mental and physical stamina.

This can come at an unaffordable cost to the individual, family and business. Assessing clients on sleep patterns and habits, nutrition, exercise routines and stamina, hydration, as well as other health and stress measures is the best way forward. Using positive psychology, coupled with exercise and a good eating plan can make all the difference. Work—life balance may also play a part for senior women, particularly if they have families and are working long hours.

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Do you always need to work late? Can you influence a long-hours culture? Is there an evening a week you could leave early? Dealing with mind, body and behaviour, and creating a personalised programme that takes into account the demands and schedule of the individual is important.

It is also good to remember that mentally and physically honed leaders function better for longer at the peak of their game. Other than this, coaching around confidence and selfesteem remains vital for most women, no matter how senior they are. There are plenty of coaching methods, tools and interventions for coaching in this area. When women have worked on confidence and self-esteem, the outcomes are manifest.


For a start they think differently from those who suffer from a lack of confidence and low self-esteem. They will always speak out at meetings and be heard. Beyond that they give themselves respect. They know what their strengths are, they know what they do well and they know how to give and gain respect. Another area in which they gain is by networking and knowing how to network successfully. They have lots of ways of meeting and greeting people, they know how to initiate contact with people and they know how to talk to people.

Finally, confident women can protect their own boundaries. They have ways of explaining themselves clearly, of accounting for their decisions, of handling negativity with gravitas. They are not written in stone, but follow the pattern of most leading larger and mid-sized companies in the UK and often internationally.

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Without this understanding, coaches are armed with fewer tools for the job. Knowing what is required at different stages, what women may be going through early on in their career, or what they may need when they join the boardroom are equally as important. More specific examples of coaching approaches and techniques are outlined in Chapter 6. Early confidence and optimism should be maintained or re-ignited. Coaching needs to bridge home, personal and professional life to be successful.

Reporting the results of our research Before we define specific interventions for Coaching Women to Lead, we need to validate which areas and domains will give women the best results for a given level of investment — time, money and organisational effort. We knew we had good insight into what women wanted from our client work, but felt that this needed to be supplemented by objective research, both quantitative and qualitative.

This chapter is the first of two where we report research findings. Janna then worked with Averil Leimon of White Water Strategies WWS to develop a questionnaire Appendix 1 to test these coping strategies with women currently in a corporate role.

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Research objectives included testing whether these strategies were the correct ones, if any of them stood out, and if specific insight could be gleaned on how to implement these strategies. Additional objectives specific to this book included determining in which circumstances or in which areas of intervention coaching would be most appropriate. The questionnaire combined quantitative and qualitative methods, using both closed and open questions, and was completed online.

In turn, each woman was asked to pass the research link on to others. The questionnaire was completed in confidence. Questions asked The full questionnaire can be found in Appendix 1.

Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge

Below is a summary. The online survey commenced with the usual filtering and demographic questions. The main quantitative approach was to ask respondents to distribute points between each of the eight strategies listed above using three filters: 1. What helped their career in the past?

CRC Press Online - Series: Essential Coaching Skills and Knowledge

What would have helped? What would help now? This quantification allowed us to carry out some variance analysis and other statistical tests to validate research hypotheses. What advice would they give a younger woman who is at the start of her career? Demographics and level of information A total of women responded to the survey. The who were currently working in a corporate environment were asked specific quantitative questions relating to their corporate experience.

All responses were used for analysis of the open questions. The majority worked full-time, with only six women working part-time. Their professional experience ranged from 1 to 35 years with a mean of This correlated broadly with their self-reported career stages: 21 were at junior-level management; 31 were at middle-level management; 55 were at senior-level management.

Respondents were drawn from a wide range of industries as illustrated in Figure 4. Further research could include replicating this survey but controlling Figure 4. Finally, respondents followed a normal bell-shaped distribution when asked about how well informed they were when they had to make big career decisions: most were neither in the dark nor in full possession of the facts.


Four strategies stand out as particularly helpful when looking at what has helped in the past. Support from senior women is essential to increase the number of women leaders. Qualitative answers also provide insight on how to develop and implement these coping strategies: which type of networking, how to boost confidence, how to use strengths, etc.

Finally, qualitative data identified two further potential coping strategies: work ethics and gender behaviour. Let us examine these results in greater detail. All eight strategies are important at all career stages Figure 4. In the first analysis networking overlaps with confidence. Role models also scores highly. Secondary analysis paired samples t-tests, with added analysis to account for the codependence between variables shows that networking edges ahead as the most important strategy and there is no one strategy that can be rejected as not being significant.

The analysis holds true when looking at the three questions separately. For readers who want to explore results a bit deeper, we present the raw results for each of the three related quantitative questions in Appendix 1 Tables A1 to A3 and graphic representations of the main answers in Figures A1—A5.