I attended the inaugural event held on July 16th, 2020, of the Coaching Ourselves module entitled “Women Rising: Breaking the habits that are holding you back,” prepared by Sally Helgensen, cited by Forbes as the world’s premier expert on women in leadership.

The coaching approach is peer-to-peer, so after a short introduction we were put into breakout rooms. Two of my group members were independent consultants, and two others were women working in male-dominated fields. Key points: difficulty breaking into conversations held between men. One woman who has four daughters sees that her daughters are having a different experience than she has; one of her daughters indicates not feeling or experiencing any sort of discrimination or differences in her work place. We discussed the impact of the generational differences and family upbringing to our perspectives.

The challenge of self promotion and higher expectations of others towards us were shared experiences among the group. The question I raised was whether those higher expectations were real or perceived; and I shared a personal story as an example.

We all took turns sharing our professional intentions. One of the women is an “award-winning team leader,” and yet has difficulty saying this out loud. One participant told her that teams need her. I mentioned what I have learned from @Alan Weiss, which is, “the first sale is to yourself.”

Three interconnected habits that hold women back, according to the Coaching Ourselves module:

Cluster 1: Undervaluing intention

  1. Reluctance to claim their achievements.
  2. Expecting others to spontaneously notice and value their contributions.
  3. Putting their job before their career. This happens because of feelings of loyalty and of being “indispensable” to the boss.

Cluster 2: Trying to do it alone

  • Overvaluing expertise. Expertise is needed for a professional role but not necessarily a pathway to getting a promotion. As one of our participants said, “You’re not less useful as a team member because you don’t understand the technical aspects.”
  • Building rather than leveraging connections.
  • Failing to enlist allies. Thinking, “Who can I work with to get this done?”

Cluster 3: Undermining your ability to lead

  • The perfection traps
  • The disease to please

Cluster 4: Reluctance to communicate strengths

  • Minimizing. words (just, only, maybe…), body language, chronic apologizing.
  • Too much: Information, emotion, background, disclosure…

After the breakout room sessions, Sally Helgensen joined us to answer questions. Interesting questions about leveraging networks without seeming as though we are ‘using” people, and responding to people’s perceptions of us. If you are interested in looking into some of the other free sessions by Coaching Ourselves, visit http://www.coachingourselves.com

If you are interested in being coached through a personalized professional development plan, or in peer-to-peer coaching for your organization, reach out to me at lesley@lesleyantoun.com.

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