How can you maximise the female talent in your organisation? Often it’s just a case of having a conversation or two.
And really listening.
I met Cathy while coaching at a Leadership Development Centre. Cathy had recently been appointed Acting Director of a large department and requested further coaching. We agreed on six sessions on a monthly basis.
Sibylle is a mid-level manager who had recently been promoted to a more senior role and wanted to position herself as a strategic thinker. To do this she felt she needed more self-confidence dealing with a male dominated executive team. She wanted to work on her presence and better ways to promote herself.
Background: I met Cathy while coaching at a Leadership Development Centre. Cathy had recently been appointed Acting Director of a large department and requested further coaching. We agreed on six sessions on a monthly basis.
Conversations: Cathy had a number of areas she was keen to work on, including working relationships with senior colleagues and how to make her mark in a new role. She was very visual and needed to download her thoughts, so I often listened and drew what I heard. We then discussed my interpretations, which helped Cathy take her thinking to the next stage.
Outcomes: Cathy found the confidence to work with a newly-appointed line manager and existing colleagues and to develop a totally new vision and plan for the department. She has now been appointed to the role of Director.
Emma’s approach has been very supportive. She has given really practical advice and assistance, with a good understanding of my own preferred style of management. This has enabled me to work with that to take on new challenges and new experiences. However, Emma has also positively encouraged me to develop new approaches as the demands of my role have changed over time. Our conversations always left me with a new suggested action or way forward that in itself could be challenging, but which ultimately helped me develop more confidence over the time that we worked together. Emma listened carefully and asked challenging questions, often forcing me to articulate issues, which in turn helped me to work out the best way to tackle them. She always followed-up with me on outcomes, and with genuine interest, sending emails and making phone calls when I had difficult issues to deal with and where some encouragement and feedback was required from a neutral party.
Coaching enabled my client to take on new challenges and new experiences. She has now been appointed to the role of Director.
Coaching allowed Sibylle to focus on the big picture, keep her poise under pressure and and not to get caught up in the detail.
Background: Sibylle is a mid level manager who had recently been promoted to a more senior role and wanted to position herself as a strategic thinker. To do this she felt she needed more self-confidence dealing with a male dominated executive team. She wanted to work on her presence and better ways to promote herself.
Conversations: Ahead of our first coaching conversation I asked Sibylle to complete a short tool to help her reflect on the main barriers to her career progression. This meant we could get to the heart of the issue quite quickly and focus on actions that would have the maximum impact.
We talked about ways to demonstrate strategic thinking as she felt that her current approach was too tactical. We talked about turning feedback into a strategic advantage as well learning to live with discomfort to achieve her career goals. This involved changing her mindset about her situation and learning how to read people and situations more effectively. We also identified potential sponsors to support her career ambitions.
Outcomes: Coaching allowed Sibylle to focus on the big picture, keep her poise under pressure and to avoid getting caught up in the detail. She started taking actions straight away, being pro-active about her visibility with a key member of the executive team. She took a personal risk in requesting a meeting that resulted in both a process improvement and his recognition of her skills and potential.
I do put some of things we discussed into practice and I am amazed how well they work.
It certainly allows me to take a step back, take the emotion out of it, and act more level-headed. We had the quarterly business review last week. As you know, the first one did not go as well as it could and I felt I took a bit of an offensive stance.
I used our coaching discussion to turn things around this time. I proactively approached one of the execs – VP of Finance – to get feedback ahead of the review to find out if it resonated. I was very surprised when he scheduled a meeting immediately and took me through the areas he liked and areas he thought needed improvement. This allowed me to be in a mind-frame to be receptive to his feedback and even better, he really appreciated my pro-activeness and interest to get it right. He sent an email to all of the region, stressing that I was the only one who had contacted him and he recommended everyone to rework their sessions. The review on Friday went really well.
Thank you for stimulating my thoughts and giving me advice. I really believe you can learn from short virtual coaching sessions, as long as you dare to push yourself outside your comfort zone the right way and just give it a go.
Background: I worked with Hilary as part of a programme organised by her HR department. We met four times over a 12-month period. Hilary held an influential role and was seen as someone with the potential to go further in her organisation.
Conversations: Hilary had two main areas she wanted to work on. Firstly, she needed help to manage an increasingly challenging situation within her office, working with senior leaders who held strong views regarding the organisation but did not always agree. Hilary’s role was often one of mediator. She also wanted to discuss her future career and options, to decide whether she should stay in the same sector or move.
Outcomes: Hilary’s confidence in her ability to use her high level of skill, influence and her knowledge of the sector increased, so she felt better able to put forward her own opinions and be heard. Hilary was offered a new career opportunity which we discussed in terms of her options and whether it would deliver her future goals. She took the opportunity and is now a senior manager in a new sector.
I was introduced to Emma through HR at my workplace, when facing some particular challenges in the office. Emma has a kindly and sympathetic approach and helped me to address the immediate issues and build my resilience, as well as to consider progression and what I might want out of a job and overall career. Her own networks and experience sit gently in the background and when appropriate, she drew on them to help illustrate a point, or even to make useful introductions. She was very supportive and encouraging when I moved into a new sector, and keen and interested to hear how it was going. She even took time to meet up over coffee, near my workplace, and I’m pleased that she remains in touch.
Coaching helped to build my client’s confidence, enabling her to make a considered decision when she was offered a new career opportunity. She has now been appointed to the role of senior manager in a new sector.