Success coaches promise to help you guide your career and teach you how to handle the nuances of the corporate world. There are some 47,500 professional career coaches worldwide, according to a survey by International Coaching Federation. Coaching sessions can run around $100-an-hour. But do women, whose corporate climb is riddled with various obstacles unique to being female in the business world, need a different type of coaching?
“Yes,” says career expert and life coach Stacia Pierce, CEO of Ultimate Lifestyle Enterprises. “Anyone who wants to get more clarity and accelerate their success needs a life coach. A coach can help you see the possibilities and accomplish your dreams and goals much faster than you would on your own.”
Pierce points out career coaching is especially helpful to women because it helps increase their confidence; provides targeted mentoring; offers proven, expert advice from someone who is already successful; and because women wear a lot of hats, a good coach can help create systems that result in a productive, profitable and enjoyable life.
According to Pierce, women face the tug-of-war between home and work life. “The ever-looming question of whether or not balance between home and the workplace is attainable,” she says. “It is important to understand that balance is relative and not constant- there will be times when you have to put more into your work to make life better for your family. Schedule in vacations and block off time to spend with your family. Set your priorities daily and give attention to what is pressing. I’ve discovered that many women have found creative ways to be there for their family while performing well on the job. There are many options, from telecommuting to having a home-based business.”
Getting the family to support your efforts is important. “Communication is key. Make sure your family understands what you do and what your goals are. Also, plan carefully and put systems in place so that all aspects of your life can run smoothly,” says Pierce.
Another reason career coaching may be more important to women is the void of other women in the upper echelons of the business world, meaning a lack of women mentors. “Women, more than men, lack the mentorship or sponsorship in higher places that can speak on their behalf and pull them forward,” she says. “Without this kind of support, women are less likely to ask for raises or even apply for advanced positions.”
Women have been known to take criticism more personally on the job than men and at times having a career coach to turn to can help women deal with rough patches. Coaching, says Pierce, can also show women how to maneuver up the ladder and not be afraid to toot their own horn. “When you show loyalty, tenacity and commitment to getting things done with excellence, you get noticed,” she explains. “When your boss asks you what your goals are, tell him. You’re most likely to be elevated and supported to the next level when you have expressed your goals and demonstrated that you are serious about advancement. Eventually, your small victories can add up to a big win on the next level.”
Career coaches can help women devise ways around the ever-looming glass ceiling or help you strategize other career options. “Don’t focus on limitations– focus on possibilities. Sometimes we have to make our own way and be willing to do something you’ve never done to get what you really want. That may mean creating a new position for yourself or launching your own business,” says Pierce.
And women sometimes when faced with other female executives look at them as the enemy rather than an ally. “You should treat others how you want to be treated. Celebrate your contemporary’s success and support one another’s endeavors. Try to avoid wasting time on small issues that cause rifts. When you show genuine support and give positive feedback, you break down the intimidating barriers that may be standing in the way of a good working relationship,” says Pierce. “Also, there’s nothing wrong with competition. Men respectfully compete and work together all the time. Women can do the same,” she adds.
Coaching can really come in handy for women who are bosses, says Pierce. “Some people may think women bosses are mean, spiteful and too bossy when they are just being firm, decisive and assertive. While you can’t really change others’ perceptions (that’s up to the individual), as a female leader strive to be fair, excellent and always on top of your game,” she notes. “Your consistent work ethic, personable communication and attention to detail will take you a lot further than worrying about what people may think about you being their boss.”