I just read an article from the Wall Street Journal with this headline: Coaching Urged for Women Inadequate Career Development Holds Back Female Executives, McKinsey Says
I have determined that any woman in the business world would benefit from some form of coaching. In over twenty-six years of working with mostly women, I have found there are key reasons why seeking outside help is so beneficial. Here are the main ones:
10. Many businesswomen are addicted to being right.
What this really means is that they are afraid they will be “wrong”–and someone will find out about it. They second guess themselves, worry over decisions, hesitate to make decisions and rely on too much feedback from others. How does coaching help? It allows you to get an objective view of situations, and have a sounding board that is totally removed from your daily routine. By broadening your perspective, you begin to see that there are many “rights” and no one way is foolproof—there are pluses and minuses for every situation. A coach helps you learn how to trust your intuition and experience–work from the inside out instead of the outside in. When you operate from there, you can be decisive and even feel comfortable changing your mind!
9. Women tend to over rely on their feelings and underutilize their knowledge.
Although being able to get in touch with their feelings is a great asset that women bring to the workplace, too much emotion can get in the way of seeing situations clearly. A conscious balance between knowledge/experience and feelings works best. A coach asks provocative questions and challenges you to look at your feelings unemotionally–sort out what matters and what doesn’t. You learn what the feelings mean, why you are having them, and when it is appropriate to express them. This kind of clarity is priceless–and allows you to be in control of your emotions instead of letting them run your life.
8. Many women are afraid to be seen as too hard or tough.
This is really an internal battle between the soft feminine and the driven, high achieving business approach. The truth is they are not mutually exclusive–and can work together very well. Coaching helps you recognize the feminine values you bring to the table as well as encourage you to use your ambition and energy wisely, to achieve the best ends. By recognizing how you manifest these traits you can condition yourself to be conscious of your behavior, and make choices about what works and what doesn’t work in particular situations.
7. Women place a high value on security.
This makes it very difficult to be a risk taker–which is a requirement for success in business. Being coached gives you the opportunity to look objectively at all sides of issues, being more thorough in seeing the pros and cons of decisions. The risks you take are less “risky” because you are making educated choices. Successful risk taking is a skill, which can be learned — and the more clarity you have, the better you are able to assess the situation and be prepared to weather the outcome.
6. Women tend to be reactive rather than create from a visionary perspective.
Women are acculturated to put out fires and respond to myriad demands. How else could they raise children? Coaching helps you create visions of exactly what you want to be, do and have in your life so that you can look at situations and decide if they fit your purpose, your vision. If they do, you work with them. If not, you can either delegate or eliminate them. When you are working from inner purpose and visions, you become more proactive than reactive.
5. Most women have difficulty setting priorities.
They have so much to do, so many responsibilities both at work and home that it is very hard to decide where to start! So many women feel overwhelmed and frustrated–as if they will never catch up. Coaching helps you organize your thinking, look at your life in a more total way and get comfortable shifting priorities when necessary, setting priorities according to the ones that are most important–that fit your purpose and visions, on a daily, weekly, monthly or yearly basis. If you are concentrating on building a business, for example, you might let your social life slide for a few months and come back to it later. But you are choosing what you are doing, not blindly falling into patterns that seem irreversible.
4. Women feel trapped and are unaware of how they are sabotaging themselves.
They repeat similar behavior expecting to get a different result (the definition of insanity). An objective coach helps you recognize the habits of thinking, acting and speaking that keep you caught in untenable situations. By changing the words you use, you change your experience. Habits don’t just disappear. It takes a great deal of self-discipline to stop thinking of your self as a victim, or someone who never quite reaches her potential. Coaching over a period of time gives you an opportunity to gradually shift the way you see yourself, get comfortable with new patterns of thinking and doing–learning to celebrate incremental successes instead of only giving yourself credit for the big ones. This step-by-step approach is highly effective in helping you reframe your self-image into one that more closely resembles the woman you would love to be.
3. Women don’t tend to think strategically.
Because women are so intuitive, they tend to just know things, and operate from instinct. That doesn’t guarantee success. A qualified coach can help you look at where you are, where you want to go, and work with you to create a plan of action with measurable goals. If you are clear on your purpose, your vision of what you want and approach situations strategically, you are much more likely to either succeed or figure out something even more effective as you go along. This entails reassessing your priorities on a daily basis to make sure you are on focus. Can you imagine a better way to approach a business situation?
2. Women have trouble delegating.
This is the “need to be needed” syndrome. Men have it too, but for them it is more about control than being needed. When one sees her value mainly in what she does for others, she is more concerned about her performance than manifesting her vision and purpose. That is “outside-in” thinking. The more dispensable she is, the more value she brings to an organization–because she is mentoring, challenging, supporting and inspiring people. Coaching can help you look at what you actually do every day and figure out whether you are really the best person for those tasks. The more you delegate, the more you free yourself up to be a leader and role model. The more task work you hold onto, the less freedom and choices you have in your business life.
And the number one reason women benefit from coaching is:
1. They are unaware of their power.
In many ways, women are still the great-untapped resource in business. They are just beginning to take their position as leaders and catalysts in the development of the new paradigms of business that are forming. The amazing value that women bring is starting to be recognized. While many men are struggling to learn how to build relationships–which is the way of the future–women are already comfortable with that softer side of themselves. Coaching is a wonderful way to learn how to integrate all the parts of your self. It enables you to take all you have learned and experienced, put it into perspective in line with your true purpose and visions of what you want, and create your unique way of winning at your life. The best coaching experience is one that helps you transform out of old patterns and design your own life. When you are living your life from the inside out, you utilize and express your power in a way that makes you approachable, attractive and an obvious asset to any venture.