written by Angie Morgan & Courtney Lynch

Women’s Leadership Coaching

Organizations are investing in women’s leadership coaching increasingly in order for their female talent to get the support they need to advance.

Businesses recognize that diverse thoughts, ideas, and opinions at the top of an organization drive bottom-line results. There are often specific barriers, though, for women to achieve these senior-level positions, which deprives organizations of the benefits that diversity can bring.

Women’s Leadership Coaching is an effective solution to address this challenge. Leadership coaching gives female leaders the opportunity to partner with an experienced guide who can help them strategize paths around existing obstacles that get in the way of their success.

Barriers for Women Leaders Seeking to Advance

Women encounter different barriers than their male colleagues in their careers, which can include both external and internal challenges.

Some of the external barriers can include:

  • Unconscious or affinity biases, where women miss out on opportunities that help position them for advancement.
  • Lack of mentorship or sponsorship, which inhibits women from gaining internal champions who can help them succeed.
  • The perception that women don’t want to advance, which particularly impacts working moms. A 2017 report from Boston Consulting Group indicated that working moms aren’t less ambitious than their non-mom, female counterparts. Yet, the perception that working moms aren’t as available to contribute has an impact on whether or not they’re selected into high-visibility projects or responsibilities.

There are also several internal barriers that limit women leaders from career advancement:

  • Confidence in themselves; this lack of confidence is evident when women don’t negotiate for pay raises or promotions or speak up to their boss regarding their career ambitions. This lack of self-promotion can put an artificial ceiling on a woman’s career.
  • The imposter syndrome, which is a close cousin to confidence. It’s when women feel as if their success isn’t theirs, which can lead to hesitancy and insecurity. It may present as women not wanting to advance and/or not feeling comfortable or confident in their current role, which can unintentionally undermine their credibility.
  • False perception of time, meaning that women can experience feeling busy and neglect their careers because “now’s not the time” for career growth. This idea is limiting because there’s always time for career development, though it might require a different approach to make the time.

The good news is that all the aforementioned barriers that impact a woman’s career can be navigated through an effective leadership coaching relationship.

What Leadership Coaches Can Do to Help 

Experienced leadership coaches are more than the been there, done that individual. While real-world experience matters, an effective coach also has a background in leadership development and proven success coaching individuals in a one-on-one format.

Experienced coaches have a strong understanding of what it takes to grow and develop in any skill area, which is why most effective leadership coaching engagements are at least six months. After all, coaches know that they’ll be working alongside women to address behaviors. Behavior shifts take a long time because coaches have to challenge their clients to “rethink” how they consider their challenges and obstacles, which takes intention and action for these habits to build and be sustainable.

A six-month timeline is appropriate for developing strategic-level skills that address:

  • Enhancing self-awareness, which helps women leaders recognize and value their strengths, and gain exposure to development areas and any blind spots that could be holding them back.
  • Building mindset and confidence, which helps women poise themselves for advancement and success.
  • Navigating the political landscape at work, to help them build relationships internally so they have champions at work, as well as key mentoring relationships that have the potential for mutual benefit.
  • Discovering time-saving techniques to manage work and life responsibilities, to include how to find and ask for support and being able to say “no” to commitments that aren’t essential for success.
  • Maneuvering into high-visibility opportunities, which takes trust and relationship building skills.
  • Developing a career vision and implementing tactics to achieve it. Many leaders aren’t clear what their next steps are in their career; an experienced coach can help illuminate possible paths to next-level success.
  • Finding new ways to achieve results, which can include time and energy skill development. Often what’s missing from a busy leader’s schedule is the opportunity to take a step back and think out loud. A coach is a great thought partner when it comes to strategy development.

How to Find a Women’s Leadership Coach 

Many businesses are engaged in relationships with either executive or leadership coaches. These coaches, though, might not specialize in women’s leadership development.

If your business isn’t engaged in a relationship with a coach, here are a few approaches to finding a women’s leadership coach:

  • Leverage your network and ask for a referral
  • Use social media platforms, like LinkedIn, to discover coaches who can support either you or a team member
  • Perform online searches to find a coach who can support your needs

Don’t feel pressed, either, to find a coach who lives in your geography. Most coaches conduct their sessions via telephone or video conference. This gives you the freedom to explore a coaching relationship that’s the best fit for the individual who’s looking to advance.

Ready to interview a prospective coach? Learn more about questions to ask a leadership coach.

Angie Morgan and Courtney Lynch are Lead Star’s founders, experienced leadership coaches, and bestselling authors of SPARK, Leading from the Front, and Bet on You. They help professionals reach new levels of success through their innovative coaching program, Year to Rise.