Tag: "Coaching"

The Real Deal – Media Skills for Women

The Real Deal – Media Skills for Women

‘Step up’, ‘sit at the table’, ‘lean in’. But what does all that mean in terms of practical steps? We’ve heard the soundbite responses to the obstacles encountered by women at work, in society and in our own feelings about self-worth.

We know that attitudes and behaviour need to shift in so many areas. There’s an expectation gap between men and women about salaries and promotion. The often-quoted study about women’s lower self-worth (the job advert posting the salary at 50K getting hardly any female applicants whereas the same job advertised at 30K had a huge response from women) is so well-known because it’s so clear.

We know that the thorny issue of gender roles has roots everywhere: little children watching TV unconsciously absorb that 50% of the boy characters solve their own problems as opposed to 35% of the female characters.

woman-reporterWe know that for adolescent girls, being popular and liked is usually more important than it is for adolescent boys.

We know that gender stereotyping can limit girls’ career choices – and that applications from girls to study car mechanics shot up when Kylie Minogue’s character first wielded a spanner in Neighbours.

We know that even when women big up their achievements at work, employing the same strategies as men to get ahead, they may still be overlooked because the problem lies not in their approach but in the reactions and evaluations of the organisation that employs them.

But we know a lot of other stuff too: that for many people job satisfaction is just as important as climbing the greasy pole; that being liked is no bad thing; that we may have different priorities from men and from each other. And that’s all good.
What we all need to do is start from wherever we are and move on into the jungle one step at a time.

At MEDIA SKILLS FOR WOMEN, we come across one very big issue in different guises. Time and again we coach women whose diffidence and self-doubt is holding them back from unlocking their full potential either as speakers or as people who are going to have to handle media interviews. We’ve worked with women who feel inadequate as speakers because they feel they need to emulate someone else’s style; often they feel that in order to be a good speaker, they have to speak like a man.

We’ve worked with women who are about go on BBC’s Question Time because they are senior or hugely expert in their field and yet believe they’re not good enough, that they’re going to mess up.

A woman’s first step therefore is often to acknowledge some lack of confidence. A large part of our work is to assure women that their own voice, their own style and their own message is more than good enough. That’s what we work on.

In the conquering of unhelpful levels of diffidence, however, we in no way encourage women to emulate the worst bits of (stereotypically) male ‘confidence’: winging it, bullshitting, flying on empty. That is self-evidently not confidence at all but bluster – no good to anyone. We don’t want women to fall from the frying pan into the fire: an impenetrable, rock-hard swagger is not what we’re after for our clients. We’re looking for the real deal and that involves painstaking preparation, ruthless editing, crystalline clarity.

Let’s remember, men have it quite tough too – particularly young men – because of the fear they might lose face if they admit to vulnerability or insecurity. Women find it easier to say they’re unsure about something or to ask for help, and that can be a strength.

In the same way, we feel it’s important that women who are working in politics of any kind, as councillors or MPs, don’t fall from one kind of ghettoisation into another: becoming spokespeople solely on ‘women’s issues’, whether that be workplace discrimination, FGM or sexual violence. The last thing we need is to narrow ourselves right back down again. Issues of gender affect us all. Isn’t that the whole point?

Article first published on: Progressive Women

Authors: Rosalind Adler and Lea Sellers from Media Skills for Women. Media Skills for Women’s training encourages women to examine – and maybe shift – their attitudes to themselves. It is aimed at helping you to exploit your own talent and potential and be the best you can – not just for your own sake but because no one wants to be stepping into a jungle. This is what they say: ‘We want to be creating and entering a world – all of us surely? – where the talents of everyone, regardless of gender, are fully realised and fully employed. That’s how we’ll change the planet, after all’. You can follow Rosalind and Lee on Twitter @speaking_women

Reclaiming ME from motherhood – How coaching helped me change career

Reclaiming ME from motherhood – How coaching helped me change career

I am a Personal and Professional Coach who specialises in helping professional working mums to reconnect to themselves after having their children and follow their passions in their careers. I am a mum to two young boisterous boys (6 & 3) and am very familiar with the challenges of reclaiming myself from motherhood and changing career direction. In this article I will share some of my own journey as a parent and the role coaching had in my re-emergence and transition into a more fulfilling, authentic working role.

Lost and found

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I came to motherhood late (charmingly called an ‘elderly’ first time mother at the ripe old age of 36!) and had had a long career working as an Occupational Therapist in a variety of mental health services prior to the birth of my first son. Despite having always wanted children motherhood came as quite a shock to my system. Yes I had anticipated the 24 hour demands but what I hadn’t expected was the impact on my sense of Self. I felt like I had disappeared into this other person who for the most part was loving, caring and compassionate – but there was no time left for ‘me’. Prior to having my children I was used to doing all sorts of activities to replenish myself – yoga, massage, gym, pilates – now there was no outlet for me anymore. At times I felt low, angry, resentful and lost in the relentlessness of the role.

Part of my problem was my own expectations of what being a mother would be like. I was striving for perfection and unable to appreciate where I was ‘good enough’ in the role. I knew things needed to change – I wanted to relax and just enjoy being a new mum and enjoy this unique and precious time in life. So I employed a Coach who helped me shift my perspective and, more importantly, gave me back a sense of my Self and my own potential. I found the coaching gave me precious time to focus on myself and my needs;  to replenish myself so I came back to motherhood anew. My satisfaction enhanced my relationship with my sons. It also served as a catalyst to me building my own business – prior to having coaching I was aware that I felt dissatisfied and stuck in my profession – but I was so impressed with the results of my coaching that I looked into becoming a coach myself and started my professional coach training.

The growth cycle

How our children grow is well documented but what I hadn’t bargained for was my own ‘growth’ cycle after having my children. Whilst work was still an important part of my identity what I found was that as my priorities changed my ambitions changed with it. During my first maternity leave I suddenly felt a compulsion to become self employed – having never contemplated running a business before – to be able to work on my own terms and fit my work around my other important commitments. Being a Mum unleashed in me a new creativity; an inner capability and resourcefulness and a thirst to grow and develop my talents beyond my existing role where there was no room to progress and I felt stuck and stagnant. While nurturing the growth and development of my sons it became an anathema to me not to nurture my own growth and development alongside.

Coaching for me has been both a catalyst for positive change and a place to reconnect with my Self and my truth. When I get ‘lost’ in the doing and busyness of life and motherhood coaching grounds me in the essence of who I am and what I want to achieve and contribute to this world. It empowers and emboldens me to take steps like writing this article to reach out to other Mums who may share similar struggles.

The Essence of You

If any of my story has resonated with you and where you are at right now I would love to hear from you. I am on a quest to speak to professional working mums who may have lost sight of themselves and who want to reclaim their gifts and passions. You may want to change direction in your career but are unsure what path to take; you may harbour a dream; perhaps you want to set up your own business or go freelance but are struggling to make this a reality on your own. I’m carrying out market research to make sure my coaching will meet your needs and am asking for 45 minutes of your time for a telephone interview in return for a free 45 minute coaching session which will be that elusive thing – precious time just for you.

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Author: Hilary Lees, Essence Coaching. Hilary can be contacted on 01580 752497, hilary@essence-coaching.com, and would love you to take her up on her offer. Don’t hesitate, call now. Offer is valid till 30 June 2013

Why all working pregnant women should have maternity coaching

Why all working pregnant women should have maternity coaching

What’s the impact of your pregnancy at work? And how to best prepare for it? You can do it all on your own, but why not consider maternity coaching?  To fully understand the benefits of maternity coaching to an individual and to a company, let’s look at a case study – Kate, who attended 3 group maternity coaching sessions – during pregnancy, maternity leave and on return to work.

Kate had her first session when she was 20 weeks pregnant. She found that networking with other people in her situation was extremely supportive and has since kept in touch with those colleagues she met.

Kate was concerned about her handover – with headcount reductions, it wasn’t clear who she would be handing over to. During the workshop, she was given a sample handover plan and discussions were held around how to do a thorough and professional handover. Following the workshop, her manager noticed how Kate was very organised and how she proactively set up a keeping in touch plan for her maternity leave.

During her maternity leave, Kate worried about her return to work; how much confidence she felt she had lost; would she be able to request a 4-day working week; would the changes at work affect her role? Her next maternity coaching session allowed Kate to discuss all her concerns, and she realised with relief that she wasn’t alone.

The workshop enabled Kate to work through her return to work options and to prepare her meeting with her line manager. Her manager found that Kate was positive, motivated and professional during their meeting and to her manager’s surprise, had already prepared a list of areas she would like to catch up on, using a couple of Keeping in Touch days.

Following a successful flexible request application, Kate returned to work feeling nervous but positive and prepared. The coaching sessions had helped Kate to prepare and manage her childcare situation, and also provided Kate with some tips on image management.

Kate’s final coaching session was held 2 weeks after her return to work. It covered sharing work/life balance tips and ideas, and Kate found the session on managing your career particularly useful, as it helped her regain some direction.

Not all companies offer maternity coaching, but it is still worth looking into individual coaching sessions. As a more affordable alternative, see what support literature is available through HR – for example Parenting for Professionals Ltd offers a Pregnancy at Work Support Pack which includes a Webcast. It covers some of the key messages, tips and information you can get from attending a maternity coaching workshop during pregnancy, but it is a lot more affordable (£29) and allows you to digest the material in your own time.

Whatever your choice of support, make sure you do address the huge change you are going through at work – putting in some time now to think about the implications of having a family on your job will help you reap the rewards later.

Author: Helen Letchfield is Co-Founder and Principal Facilitator for Parenting for Professionals. As a qualified performance coach, Helen works with parents and parents-to-be to offer support through the challenge of creating a home/work balance. She has 12 years experience in coaching and developing corporate clients and has worked for Barclays Wealth, Credit Suisse, Canon and Harrods. She is a working mum to 2 boys aged 6 and 4.

Sign up to a Monthly update to Mum & Career before 17 May 2012 for your chance to WIN the Pregnancy at Work Support Pack. Signing up will bring you tips and guidance for career-minded mums, delivered straight to your inbox. Signing up is free and easy. 

How do mums returning to work find the right Executive Coach?

How do mums returning to work find the right Executive Coach?

Returning to work is a big step and an executive coach can certainly help you with this transition. But how do you find the right one for you?

Plenty of people claim they are a coach. The boundaries between life coaches, business coaches and executive coaches can often be blurred. As the profession itself is not protected, anyone can claim to be a helping mind – finding the right coach can be like looking for a needle in a haystack.

An executive coach concentrates on you operating within a business context. A good executive coach should take a systemic approach taking all relevant factors – departments, business lines, business contexts, interacting organisations and your family background and current situation – into consideration. In the particular situation of return-to-work mums, it is also very useful to have a coach who can relate to the struggles you face with the balancing act of having children and pushing your career.

An executive coach supports you to achieve specific professional goals with the objective to enhance your corporate career. These include performance management, career transition, developing an executive presence, interpersonal and professional communication, organizational effectiveness, managing career and personal changes, dealing effectively with conflict, and building an effective team within your organization.

 

So what do you need to look out for when selecting an Executive Coach?

Industry Experience and Background

To help you get back into the swing of your career it will be helpful to work with a coach who has actually worked in a similar environment. The person should be able to relate to your business challenges, have an understanding of internal politics and corporate dynamics. The coach is there to help you develop a strategy for your career and navigate through the potential pitfalls. Not necessarily does a coach need to have worked in the exact same industry but certainly experience that is somewhat similar does help.

Credentials, Credibility and Professional Development

The training for becoming a coach can vary from a few days, which clearly is not enough, to a few years. Choose a coach who is fully accredited with one of the main coaching bodies. This will give you a reassurance that the person you work with has got a sound understanding of how people behave and change in a business environment. Also try to select someone who has a quality reputation in the industry, referrals or client testimonials can be helpful. If they are a good executive coach they are likely to be active and visible and belong to the right coaching bodies. For a coach it is also vital to ensure they continue their own journey of learning. You may want to check if they work with a supervisor and what training opportunities they have made use of recently.

The coaching bodies provide more information on finding a coach, and have a (searchable) directory of coaches in your area:

Logistics and Process

Some coaches insist that you come to their office, others are happy to travel to where you are, meet you in a coffee shop or even work by phone or Skype. There are pros and cons of all of these: a change of scenery can help you open up and find a new perspective to the issues you try to grapple with, while meeting the coach at your office can help you save travel time. You need to work out and discuss what works best for you.

The average length of a coaching assignment is between 3 and 6 months. Meetings are usually between 1 and 3 hours and it tends to be most effective to have them every 2 to 4 weeks. Most coaches offer a free introductory session with the purpose of establishing that both sides are comfortable to work with each other. Once you have agreed working together you then discuss in the next session your goals and objectives and possible length of the assignment. The exact process varies between coaches and goals you wish to achieve, so you need to discuss how you want to work with your coach.

Fees and payments

Depending on what you have agreed in terms of logistics – specifics of the assignment, where and how often you meet – fees can vary greatly. For an experienced executive coach you may get a discounted fee for a privately paid assignment starting from £150 pounds per hour, for a senior executive coach working with a CEO of a large organisation, rates per hour can be over £1000. This may sound extortionate but needs to be taken in context: one hour of coaching translates into three to four hours of work for the coach which includes preparation before and a review after each session as well as travel times. Also an experienced executive coaches who brings along a wealth of industry experience seeks to be paid in line with other activities they could undertake.

Data Protection, Confidentiality and Transparency

You are likely to discuss very private issues with your coach. Check your coach has a clear policy on how they treat and protect your information. Along with the rest of the process it should be transparent to you how your coach works and what approach and methods they apply to help you.

So there are a few things you may want to look out for when choosing the right executive coach. However, the bottom line is: you need to feel comfortable with the person who is supposed to help you in this important phase of your life. Ask yourself: do I trust the person, do I like her/him, can I see myself opening up to this coach and really sharing the way I feel? Only if you can build a sound rapport and trust with your executive coach will you both be in a position to challenge each other and provoke the necessary changes in your life which will help you move forward.

Author: Ulrike Dadachanji is an experienced executive coach. For over ten years she has been successfully coaching and mentoring senior leaders in banks and other large corporate organisations, entrepreneurs and high-potentials. Over the years working in large and small corporate organisations, Ulrike realised that the biggest obstacle to success tends to be a lack of understanding: of oneself, of one’s colleagues, or the business situation. Her mission is: help people and companies to work together better, raise their awareness and be more effective.

 

Are you looking to become a coach?

iPEC is now offering a course on becoming a coach in London. The programme starts 8-10 of March 2013. If you book using this link, you will support Mum & Career AND can bring a friend for FREE to the first weekend (value £950,-)

 

Returning to work? – how an Executive Coach can help get your corporate career back on track

Returning to work? – how an Executive Coach can help get your corporate career back on track

After having spent 6 months, a year, or longer being a mum at home, returning to work can be a great challenge. Yes, even if you have done well at university, excelled in our first job and got promoted fast.

It can also be a very lonely and stressful period in life. Your partner might be equally busy, not having an open ear for personal worries. At work your are expected to continue to project the image of being capable and in control, while sleep deprivation is your constant companion. Often the biggest challenge in this period is to get the right support to get your career moving again – this can be offered through executive coaching.

Working with a coach provides you with the time and space to tackle the issues which are important to you in this transition. Over a period of time, usually 3 to 6 months, you regularly meet with your executive coach, define your challenges, devise an action plan and have someone by your side to help you put your career back on track and refocus.

But sometimes your coach is simply there to listen: listen to the difficulties of keeping so many balls in the air, your ideas of how you want to change your situation or your thoughts on what can be done better in your job. Everything that is being discussed with your coach is confidential so it really gives you a space to open up.

How can an Executive Coach support you?

Every woman and situation is different – and so are the coaching assignments. However, the range of issues an executive coach might help you with include the following:

> Regain your confidence

After having been out of work, a lot of women have a sense of inadequacy. A number of worries might go through your head: ‘Am I still good enough to do the job?’, ‘How do I find my feet again after having had a break?’, ‘Will my colleagues or boss still take me seriously after I have been out for so many months?’ A coach works with you on getting back your strength and confidence and helps you assert yourself in these new circumstances.

> Help organise

The new complexity of having a family life and a career does require different organisational skills. You might address questions such as: ‘How can I balance the new demands at home while at the same time keeping my focus on work?’ or ‘How do I set up and manage a support network for when things don’t go to plan?’ Making sure you carve out some ‘me’ time, looking after yourself, is a key factor for making your return to work successful. Together with your coach, you develop a structured plan to identify your needs and how to address them.

> Set the right expectations

Even with the best of organisational skills, being a mother does require having some flexibility particularly at the beginning. It is important to set the right expectations with your manager. You might want to explore possibilities for flexible working in respect to hours and location. Your team and colleagues may need to reshape the way they work with you and understand your external commitments. Your coach will help you to manage the relevant discussions with your manager, team and colleagues.

> Move your career forward and reactivate your network

Having a child at home and a full day of work usually means there is little time left to think about the future. As a result women returning to work often neglect their long-term career aspirations, which means they can be seen as the person who is content with where she is rather than wanting to go places. Once put in this box it can be difficult to rectify the image at a later point. A coach helps you from the beginning to avoid falling into this trap. Together you will look at where and how you can build your internal and external networks and how you can get prepared for the next promotion. You might look at what responsibilities or projects you can take on to help build your profile while still maintaining the balance between family and working life.

Returning back to work is a difficult time for mums. Getting the right support in this period of your life is crucial and can really make a great difference to how you feel, how you are perceived and ultimately how happy you are with this new double demand. Engaging a coach to support you in this process is not just a wise decision but also one that really pays off.

Author: Ulrike Dadachanji is an experienced executive coach. For over ten years she has been successfully coaching and mentoring senior leaders in banks and other large corporate organisations, entrepreneurs and high-potentials. Over the years working in large and small corporate organisations, Ulrike realised that the biggest obstacle to success tends to be a lack of understanding: of oneself, of one’s colleagues, or the business situation. Her mission is: help people and companies to work together better, raise their awareness and be more effective.