Guest post by serial entrepreneur and business coach Bev James (learn more about Bev at the end of this post)
The need for business coaches is on the rise. The economic and employment climate are changing and for many, advice and encouragement can be a great investment.
With this in mind, and with the jobs market uncertain, it could be an ideal opportunity to indulge in this area this is an area you’re thinking about indulging in, it is generally said that to become a coach you must possess certain qualities. These include: Empathy, honesty, motivational, compassionate, firm and able to offer a fresh perspective.
The gender stereotype
It’s interesting that a lot of these qualities fit well with typical stereotypes associated with women.
This is not at all to say that men don’t make fantastic coaches or possess these qualities too but this is no longer just a man’s world and women will have differing strengths or needs.
Generally, a business coach will fit well with a certain client because they will have some form of experience or prior knowledge in their specific area. The same can apply with genders. In some cases, a business woman may feel that a female coach would be more beneficial and understanding.
Asking for a help is weak, it’s a good business decision
Sometimes women will require a coach. These women may already be in a strong position in the workplace but they could use another woman’s perspective from time to time. Here’s why. Although it is certainly improving and women now have more power, rights and freedom than we did, let’s say, 50 years ago, there are still rooms for improvement.
For example, every person – not just women – has the right to a family. It is true that paternity leave is on the up and there are more stay-at-home dads than ever before. Saying this however, it is still the female who must carry the child and who will undoubtedly need some form of maternity leave for her body to recover. Not wanting to display this as a negative, but it would be naive to act as though this doesn’t come into the equation when she is being hired for another position or being considered for promotion. It is of course illegal to use this against her, but the possibility of absence is very real.
For this reason, a large number of women are either putting off having children until later life, or are sacrificing the ideal of having a family altogether in a bid to keep up with men on the career ladder. This is not new.
However, this can be an incredibly emotional decision that requires advice both on a personal and business level, for which a woman mentor is ideal.
This is just one example. The thing is, the jobs market is far more competitive than it ever was in the past. Access to technology and education in the last decade has ensured that anyone and everyone can advance themselves, regardless of gender or background. With this in mind, for the first time in history, graduates and younger employees can have just as much knowledge about an industry as someone who employs them.
There may still be some catching up to do
If you’ve been in a career for a while, it’s easy to become locked into certain habits and ways of working but sometimes an outside opinion can be just what is needed to revitalize a company. This is regardless of gender. But let’s bring it back to business women for a minute.
In a recent article published by The Guardian, based on figures published by The Office of National Statistics, it was shown that women in London are less likely to be in work, and if they are working, they’re less likely to be paid as much as their male counterparts. Some of this will undoubtedly boil down to stereotypes.
It is environments like this in which a business mentor can be incredibly valuable for women in business. Take a look again at those qualities for a successful coach. There is nothing there that a woman can’t offer.
For women to be able to grow in companies as well as deal with these stereotype issues and overcoming adversity, help is sometimes a great idea. No longer is it seen as weak to ask for outside assistance but is a wise and informed business move.
The business coach in all of us can be unleashed if we get the correct training. Of course it doesn’t matter what gender you are, but perhaps it’s time to use those stereotypes for your benefit.
About the Author: Bev James is a successful serial entrepreneur and business coach with more than 20 years’ experience in diverse sectors including coaching, training, recruitment and health & fitness. She was appointed MD & Head of Training for The Coaching Academy in 2008, the world’s largest training school for coaches. As a business coach, she enjoys troubleshooting and business turnaround projects and very close to her heart is the people element of business life.