Why Women’s Business Leadership Coaching is Essential for Executive Success

  1. Business Leadership Coaching is Essential for Executive Success
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Why Women’s Business Leadership Coaching is Essential for Executive Success

Corporate women’s leadership development programs, women’s leadership recruitment initiatives and gender bias training programs have failed to adequately address pay inequality and the lack of representation of women in the C-suite. Women’s Leadership Coaching, on the other hand, steadily produces ROI (return on investment) of over 500%. This article explains why Women’s Leadership Coaching is essential to the success of both corporations and women leaders. Explore how proven Women’s Leadership Coaching strategies differ from women’s leadership training and development programs. Discover how critical it is that companies prioritize and adequately fund systematic approaches to gender equality.

Why Do Women Need a Different Business Leadership Coaching Approach Than Men?

Decade after decade, women have reported intimidating obstacles when they apply for a top tier position in a company. Barriers to success include lack of corporate awareness of gender inequities, politics, and difficulties securing a mentor who sincerely seeks to help emerging women leaders advance. Other obstacles include gender communication issues and blatant, subtle and unconscious gender bias.

Some male leaders may always be more comfortable hiring another man than a woman. Even before the backlash from the #MeToo movement, research from the New York Times reported that 22% of men were reluctant to meet one-on-one with a woman. After #MeToo, research from SurveyMonkey and LeanIn.org indicated that 60% of male managers were uncomfortable participating with women in mentoring, one-on-one working partnerships and socializing on company time. These are not only common job-related activities, they are almost always requirements for a woman who wants to become a corporate executive.

Although awareness has grown about gender bias in corporations and many companies point to the fact that they offer an occasional diversity training session or host women’s leadership networking events, statistics are not encouraging for an emerging female leader. In fact, many of the reports you’ll read if you view the results of a simple google search say the problem of gender inequality is expanding regarding women’s leadership recruitment, pay, perks, promotions and other rewards.

Social Norms and Expectations Suppress Women’s Leadership Success

As early as preschool, girls are reinforced for qualities that western cultures do not perceive as requirements for excellent leadership. These include being a warm, friendly person who caretakes people who need assistance, is relationship-oriented and places the needs of others above her own.

Social expectations are that leaders are authoritative, decisive, assertive and communicate in a direct, no-nonsense manner. Men are expected to confidently serve in leadership roles, directing the actions of other people. Women are expected to request or respectfully suggest that another person complete a certain action.

These differences in social expectations for men and women create leadership barriers for women that most men do not encounter. This discrepancy in expectations and social requirements is not only incompatible with the true roles of leaders, it causes a great deal of discomfort among women leaders.

Behaviors like using an authoritative voice or directly and clearly stating what they expect from team members is easily accepted when a leader is male. When a woman is confident, assured, speaks her truth and tells someone what must be done, she is sometimes accused of being arrogant, bossy or aggressive.

One of the sad ironies regarding social expectations is that they conflict with research about the attributes of effective leaders. Exemplary leaders are gender-neutral instead of conforming to gender stereotypes. Research confirms that outstanding executives combine characteristics traditionally considered feminine and masculine. For example, they are emotionally intelligent, decisive, intuitive, authoritative, sensitive to the needs of other people, confident, have excellent communication skills and practice healthy assertiveness.

Gender Bias Inflicts Harm at Every Level

As a result of the social expectations described above, many women leaders try to anticipate how other people will interpret their actions and statements. This creates inconsistent leadership behavior. Some women with extraordinary leadership potential never receive respect because they fail to lead from their authentic core self. They tiptoe around waiting for approval instead of being assertive, authoritative and direct. They feel misunderstood and isolated.

Until women leaders and emerging leaders discover their personal innate leadership style and lead from their authentic core, they fear alienating the people whose support is essential to their success. This includes both team members and upper management. Reacting to fear instead of leading from their core further erodes the level of confidence that is essential to good leadership.

Everyone concerned suffers when a woman leader worries about whom she might offend. Team members become confused. Upper management begins to doubt they made an appropriate appointment to the position. The female leader who then senses her predicament exacerbates this unfortunate cycle with another layer of fear or self-doubt.

Gender bias is a chronic, systemic problem that exists at all levels of most corporations. Like a virus, it travels from the Board room through the C-suite, middle management and other employee tiers. Gender inequities significantly impair an organization’s vision, productivity, profits and community accountability.

Initiatives to Elevate Women to Leadership Positions Prove We Need New Approaches

Although leadership development programs for women are currently popular in parts of corporate America and employee networking groups for women have become more common, there is little evidence of genuine positive change in the numbers of women at the top levels of American corporations.

According to every study I’ve read, men still populate over 80% of executive suite and corporate Board positions and hold almost 70% of management and top management positions. The statistics are even more grim in Fortune 500 CEO positions because various studies indicate that only between 2% and 5% are occupied by women.

Since the status quo is holding firm, it’s no wonder that many of my Women’s Leadership Coaching clients comment:

  • “Most of the women’s leadership development and recruitment efforts we hear about are more window dressing (publicity-oriented) than genuine.”
  • “Sponsoring an online leadership development forum doesn’t provide an opportunity for women in my organization to be mentored by a powerful male corporate leader who can actually help them advance.”
  • “We women at lower levels love to attend a networking event about women’s leadership skills . . . but . . . we’re just networking with each other. We’re not connecting to male leaders who have the influence we lack and can help us gain access to the C-suite.”

What are the Core Components of Corporate Change That Can Reverse Gender Inequality?

Genuine avenues to positive change will include providing mentors who will actually open doors for women who are eager to advance. If a corporation is serious about leadership development for women, the company will take the following steps:

  • Connect emerging women leaders and women in mid-management levels with men who hold higher-level leadership positions and are sincerely interested in mentoring qualified women.
  • Allocate sufficient resources to develop a visible, systematic approach to address gender inequities, including an adequately funded team working with a Chief Diversity Officer supported by a sincere corporate-wide initiative for organizational culture change.
  • Ensure access to internal company metrics to support ongoing innovation and evaluation.
  • Carefully analyze leadership recruitment approaches and literature to detect and reverse discriminatory language and approaches.
  • Create a transparent accountability system regarding reversing gender inequities.
  • Consistently measure and report progress about addressing gender inequality at all levels.

Executive Coaching for Women Empowers You to Move Forward Instead of Waiting for Organizational or Social Change

Even though statistics about positive progress have been stagnant for over a decade, women leaders and emerging leaders can forge ahead now. Executive Coaching for Women not only addresses the external barriers described above, your Women’s Leadership Coach will help you overcome internal challenges, including the confidence issues that hold most women back, assertiveness skills and the need to manage up the chain of command.

As a certified executive and leadership coach working with senior leaders in several countries, I help my Women’s Leadership Coaching clients develop an authoritative voice and thrive as a female leader who leads winning teams. We begin by identifying your personal, innate leadership style which is based on your core strengths.

The Proven Value of Women’s Leadership Coaching and How to Apply for Executive Coaching

The ROI (return on investment) of Women’s Leadership Coaching is over 500%. I help women business owners and leaders in all types of industries, partnerships and nonprofits prevent and resolve leadership challenges, including those specific to women in male-dominated industries.

Click here to complete a short application so I can contact you for a complimentary 20-minute consultation. If we decide we’re a good fit as client and coach, we’ll discuss a coaching agreement. I’m looking forward to getting to know you and being of assistance.

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. as interviewed on “The Today Show,” CNN and NPR. Certified Master Leadership and Executive Coach Doris Helge is author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job,” Doris has helped hundreds of leaders like you meet every challenge you’re facing. Click here to view examples of solutions to women’s leadership dilemmas and sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.


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About the Author

Doris Helge

© 2019 Doris Helge, Ph.D. at www.WomensLeadershipTips.com Doris Helge, Ph.D., MCC is a Certified Master Executive Leadership Coach and author of bestselling books, including “Joy on the Job.” Click here now to sign up for your complimentary Leadership Coaching Consultation.

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