Women often say they wish they could find a mentor and/or coach. What exactly do they mean?
A trusted friend, counselor or teacher
A more experienced person with whom they might be paired or matched
Someone who could serve as an example as they advance
Someone who might advise them in their careers, their education or their networks
Women are searching for many different things: trust, experience, a match, an example, and advice. They want an advocate as well as a guardian angel or protector. They do not trust very many people within the business setting for several reasons: they are not familiar with it; they may not be comfortable with competition or risk; or they may face undesirable behavior.
There are great debates about how women make it to leadership roles.
Women entrepreneurs have begun to emerge in significant numbers thanks to the mentoring/coaching of both women and men business leaders. After spending time in the corporate world, many women choose to open their own businesses so they have more control over their time.
Mentors are trusted advisors who draw from their own personal experience to offer guidance. They usually will take a long, industry-wide view to help the individual navigate the business terrain.
Mentoring can occur naturally, informally or formally.
It can be a formal part of a program within a professional organization or an informal relationship.
It can last a day, several weeks, just long enough to help an individual over a “hump,” or it can last several years. We usually encourage our clients to seek out several mentors over the course of their career.
Corporate sponsored mentoring is sometimes used to achieve strategic business goals, such as retaining new employees and/or for leadership succession planning.
A mentor could be a highly visible and experienced company executive advising a rising star. Although a senior manager may be helpful to your career, working with someone from outside your organization, who is not invested in organizational politics, can ensure that conversations, concerns, and issues are kept in strict confidence. An experienced executive/business coach will also offer an objective view from the outside looking in.
Unlike most mentors, a coach is less visible, but very much present.
We sometimes call ourselves invisible partners. Coaches are normally drawn from outside the organization, to provide individual—and, most importantly, confidential—support on personal, career and business matters.
Coaching is about partnering in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires you to maximize your personal and professional potential.
The coaching relationship is a strong, resilient, dependable, and safe vehicle in which the need is identified and positive growth can take place. Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help you produce fulfilling results and enhance the quality of your life. A coach is a listener, sounding board, and awareness-raiser.
Coaching creates a safe climate for purposeful dialogue. This is why it is important that the coach be from outside the organization.
Among other things, an Executive/Business Coach will help you learn to:
Improve interpersonal skills
Move beyond self-imposed limitations
Align yourself with corporate objectives
Manage staff through increased personal effectiveness
Embrace feedback as an improvement tool
Bolster your self-determination
Understand the necessity of good communications
Key into gender-based behavior
Improve your decision-making skills
Develop your team-building know-how
Utilize proven conflict-resolution techniques
Take more than one perspective on issues
Understand the environment in which you work
Improve your problem-solving abilities
Develop a flexible management style
Plan an appropriate approach
Execute winning business strategies
Develop a talent pool and create loyalty
Cultivate a network that helps you and your organization
Establish priorities and receive exceptional performance reviews
Balance work and life priorities
Each of us has been given the gift of choice and the power to act. How we do that is up to us. Executive coaches routinely offer their clients a safe and confidential environment in which they can share both their personal and professional concerns.
"When Doing It All Won't Do: A self-coaching guide for career women" by Barbara McEwen & John G. Agno.
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