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Many people don’t know or understand what career coaching is. It is simply a way of getting support to reach your career goals. Rachel Gojer, Leadership and Team Coach has worked with CEOs, Executives and Entrepreneurs globally to help them create their unique success formula. Here she shares some important points to help you move forward with confidence.
Studies show that only 11% of senior leaders are women as compared with 20% in mid-level roles and 38% in junior roles in India. Where do you think coaching fits in for closing this gap?
Coaching makes a difference to anybody in the workplace - men or women. Since I primarily work with leaders, one of the things that I hear frequently is that the only time they get to reflect on what they are doing is during a coaching session. Most corporate spaces are very busy, people rush from one meeting to another, and there is so much going on that they don’t have time to think. Coaching helps people sit back and reflect.
For women, it takes on a slightly more critical meaning because unfortunately for them, it’s not an equal space. Women juggle work along with more priorities at home than men. While men are busy, women are busier and they almost never get the time to sit back and reflect on what they are doing and why they are doing it. They tend to lose focus on what is important to them. Coaching helps them prioritize better and use their resources and energy better.
Women have many skills which can help them become leaders. Yet, they are held back by their own thoughts at times. How do you think coaching will help overcome these limitations?
There are many internal factors that hold women back in the corporate space. I don't necessarily see any difference between the skills men and women have. However, women are sometimes more self-critical and doubt themselves more. They strive for perfection far more than any men do. This is often due to social conditioning. Women are also conditioned to not raise their voices and not ask for what they want. Women want to be successful but they also want to be nice. These belief systems are built into them and into their behaviors (conscious and subconscious).
Coaching can help them overcome these beliefs. There is a lot of conflict that goes on with women. For instance, “If I do this, what will people say?” or “How will I juggle my many responsibilities”. Men go ahead and do the job without this overthinking. I’m not saying that you need to compromise on your values but it’s just about being assertive and putting yourself out there. There are so many internal limitations and subconscious behaviors that are in play. Coaching helps you identify behaviors that are not useful to you. Once these are identified, a coach can work on mitigating their impact and help you get over them.
How does a working woman ascertain a time for taking professional coaching?
Coaching is a goal-focused intervention. It is about going from where you are to where you want to get to. Here are three ways that a coach can help.
- When you are not happy with where you are but you don't know what you want instead. Maybe you are feeling stuck in your career and you don’t like your job. However, you don't know what you want to do instead. Or maybe you want to decide whether you should change your job or go for higher education. That’s one time to look for a coach.
- Another time is when you know where you want to go but you don't know how to get there. Say, you want to apply for a promotion or try a new role but you don't know how to create the plan to reach your goal. That’s another scenario where a coach will step in and help you build an action plan.
- The third is when you know what you want and how to get there but you find that you are not moving towards your goals. Something is holding you back. It could be fear, lack of confidence, lack of motivation, a busy schedule, or just plain procrastination. So when you have no reason not to go forward but are still not making progress, you should look for a coach.
Do share some points which will make the leadership journey easier for women in the corporate world.
- Define your own success: Success is not one thing. It means different things for different people. It can be money, position, influence, or work-life balance. Don't let the world define it for you. Prioritize your goals based on what success is for you. Don’t blindly do stuff because everyone's doing it.
- Use your voice: Always tell people what you want and don’t want. If you don't do that, people tend to assume and make decisions for you. Learn to talk about your achievements. Women don’t do this and this is also a fallout of social conditioning. In the corporate space, people need to know and more so because of WFH now.
- Don't wait for perfection: Take risks, become okay with failure - because failure is the stepping stone to success. Put yourself out there. Women take lesser risks at work which holds them back. Chances are when you jump, you can fly. Believe in yourself.