Aakriti Agarwal is Director, Customer Marketing – Numly™, Inc. The views expressed are her own.
We might be in 2022, but women’s participation in the workforce is at the same level as it was back in 1988. Around 2 million women left the workforce in 2020, and organizations continue to see women exiting the workforce consistently.
Research shows that organizations now risk losing women at all levels of management. With this trend, they risk losing future women leaders. This unwinds years of painstaking progress that has been made towards improving gender diversity.
Despite these figures, it is hard to ignore that women are making powerful strides in the business world. It might be a small number, but women make up 15% of the total number of Fortune 500 CEOs in 2021. Women leaders are showing the world their leadership prowess and that they mean business.
Women leaders in places of influence today are at a rank where they can coach more women to shatter the glass ceiling. Organizations across industries are also now positioned to help their high-performing women employees and leaders become coaching leaders.
This is an opportunity to create a more equitable and empathetic workforce and fix the broken rung that is holding women back. It is also an avenue to employ the traits that women leaders bring to the table – that of decisiveness coupled with empathy and weighted rational thinking.
Why women coaches?
Be it developing their leadership vocabulary or improving their communication strategies, coaching is a tool that has helped many women leaders. Most of the powerful women in leadership positions have leveraged coaching to move ahead in their careers and navigate their challenges.
Sheryl Sandberg, for example, has been a big proponent of coaching and has herself actively sought to coach to traverse her career.
Ambitious women trying to shatter the glass ceiling are outnumbered by men. Even though men and women enter the workforce at the same time and pace, men advance more rapidly. For every 100 men promoted to a manager role, only 86 women were promoted.
Taking a gender-agnostic approach to closing the opportunities gap is now inevitable. However, it is equally important to address the issues holding women back and deliver tailored leadership programs specifically for women to augment their career outcomes and get the support they need.
Building more women coaches expands organizational efforts to get more women in leadership roles by giving them access to the right support.
Women leaders who become coaches also help organizations leverage their unique skills and perspectives and build winning teams.
With the world demanding a more empathetic and equitable workplace, building more women coaches is good business. Coaching is an experience. It is an exercise that has to take the person from where they are to where they want to be. It is a co-creative relationship where both the coach and the learner put in the muscle to make the change. This change starts when the coach can understand the individual’s challenges without judgment, with empathy, and with complete understanding.
Advantages of women coaches
Some clear advantages of developing women coaches can be identified as follows:
Bring an organization-wide systemic change
We need more women coaches to help organizations and those in power bring about systemic change. Having more women coaches brings in a diversity of thoughts, ideas, and opinions. It brings new perspectives, understanding, and approaches to the table.
Coaching is also a forward-focused activity. However, successful coaching is where the coach can help the learner identify and separate their limiting beliefs from actual challenges.
A woman employee’s struggle with work-life balance, for example, is very different from that of her male counterparts. Her barriers to success are also different from her male counterparts.
The workplaces are going through cultural and demographic shifts. Building greater understanding and acceptance becomes crucial to driving systemic change in the world of work. Women coaches can add to the learning and actively contribute toward building a workplace that is rooted in empathy and understanding.
Augment DEI initiatives
Trends like the great resignation and a growing focus on diversity, inclusiveness, and belonging are influencers of organizational outcomes. Organizations need more women coaches to navigate these situations and trends with greater resilience.
Building understanding and identifying unconscious biases are critical for improving the outcome of DEI initiatives. Having women leaders as women coaches allow organizations to build women’s representation in the coaching circuit. It is also a good strategy to help the workforce develop their psychological and social awareness to support and drive gender diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Women coaches become valuable contributors to the coaching mix and help employees balance empathy and understanding with productivity and innovation by offering different worldviews, perspectives, and problem-solving approaches.
Access different leadership styles
At one time, a woman was expected to grow fins and teeth to be a leader. If she wasn’t a shark, then the ocean wasn’t the place for her. The story is different today. Women leaders have proven that they can be strong through truth, authenticity, and empathy. They don’t need to be ‘hard’, ‘tough’, or condescending to lead a team.
Developing more women coaches helps organizations build more leadership styles. They give their workforce and high-performing employees a non-judgmental space and the opportunity to develop critical skills like empathy and compassion. These skills have to be hardwired into leadership and working styles, especially as the world of work faces constant disruption and change.
Women coaches can
- Create impactful plans that increase visibility and influence
- Help employees work through challenging relationships and dynamics.
- Present perspectives to overcome limiting beliefs and self-doubt
- Channel strategies that compel the learner to move out of their comfort zone.
- Help the workforce, especially the female workforce, identify, evaluate, and improve hurdles and limiting beliefs that impede political savviness and strategic vision.
Build winning, high performing teams
Women coaches can help organizations create more balanced, empathetic, understanding, and highly productive teams. They can also help the employees and managers develop new worldviews and perspectives and open up their minds to approach challenges differently.
Women coaches are also equipped to deliver custom interventions at various life and professional stages with empathy. This becomes a boon, especially for those women who are re-entering the workforce while understanding their life transitions. They enable employees to build the right belief systems and working mechanisms to navigate the special challenges they face in the workplace.
Statistics show that women are significantly different from men in cultural, psychological, behaviors, communication styles, preferences, worldviews, and neurobiological dimensions.
Research shows that women, for example, have high emotional and social competency levels.
These attitudes can be put to work to help women in the workforce, and in leadership roles to augment their career outcomes with women coaches. For these same reasons, women coaches also capably deliver great value to their teams and contribute to building winning high-performing teams.
Organizations can augment human-centered leadership by leveraging the experiences of women coaches. They can help organizations build the right conditions for team success while driving collaborative, inclusive, and transparent environments.
Deliver powerful role models
Women leaders must become powerful role models to their teams. Implementing manager-led coaching to drive career pathing initiatives helps them show assertive compassion while providing different engagement styles and approaches to drive change and transformation.
Women coaches can help organizations build powerful role models where power and compassion and empathy are not opposing goals. The best leaders balance emotional strength with the courage and confidence to make hard decisions to take their leadership act to the next level. They communicate their vision well, connect with the right people, and build trust networks and bridges. These characteristics help them emerge as powerful role models to those looking up to them.
If we want women to occupy more seats at the table, we need to add more chairs. In other words, we need to create opportunities and access for women to overcome barriers and biases.
Helping women leaders and managers become coaches assists this intention. These coaches can help women employees or those re-entering the workforce improve their career outcomes. They can chart the right career pathing initiatives to augment careers and drive diversity across the enterprise landscape.
The world of work has also indelibly changed. One of the mistakes that organizations will make is continuing to do what worked before. Upgrading existing leadership capabilities and adopting those that enable change, drive resilience, and build brand value will determine organizational success.
Women coaches will be invaluable to this mix by bringing in new perspectives and identifying blind spots that went previously unnoticed.
Our specially designed Women’s Leadership Program helps organizations enable their women workforce to develop the right leadership skills to become authentic, empathetic, and impactful leaders. With this, they also help their women leaders and managers develop as great coaches to drive manager-led coaching and lead great career pathing outcomes for their teams.
[Know more about the program here – https://www.numly.io/championing-women-leaders-program/]