Career Coaches: Men Mentoring and Coaching Women

Men mentoring and coaching women - Career Coaches

Men mentoring and coaching women – Career Coaches

Men Mentoring and Coaching Women

Many of the powerful women I interviewed for my book Find Your Inner Red Shoes shared that they had received most of their mentoring and coaching from men. Some had early male career coaches or mentors who made a big impact in their journeys. Some sought out male mentoring and coaching as they moved through the ranks and became these men’s protégés. Regardless of the industry these women were in, they all found men who saw the value in helping them become leaders in their desired field.

The Real Role of Career Coaches

When you look for potential mentors to coach your female employees up the organizational ladder, it’s easy to settle for the more common role of a career coach: Helping people advance in their careers by refining their strengths and overcoming their weaknesses. What is harder to find are career coaches who guide your employees through a process of self-discovery that eventually leads to a better alignment between their inner strengths and passions, and their career track. Someone who functions as a catalyst for your employees’ ambitions and who guides them in the path to self-fulfillment which is the surest way to heightened career engagement and productivity. This is exactly the type of mentor that the successful women I interviewed had!

The Real Role of Career Coaches: Having a Career

The Real Role of Career Coaches

As you look for potential career coaches to match with females on the fast track, keep in mind that mentors don’t need to look like their mentees. For good mentoring and coaching to occur, it’s less important for it to be delivered by someone with the same background/gender as the mentee than by someone with the ability to unleash their mentees’ interests. In addition, what makes a mentor/coach most valuable is the ability to help mentees crack the code for career advancement in the organization—who to approach for what, what strategies will land them a seat at the table, best ways to leverage their background, and so on. In the best-case scenario, as the relationship progresses, mentors become sponsors introducing their mentees to key players and becoming conduits to bigger and better career advancement opportunities.

The Advantage of Men Mentoring and Coaching Women

When the goal is to promote more women to leadership positions and the dominant demographic in power is men, it’s important that men do some of the mentoring and coaching of the high potential women (particularly women from diverse backgrounds) to create a succession plan that includes both genders.

There are many advantages for your company to have men as career coaches for women:

  • Men can help women decipher the unwritten rules of the organization, the ignorance of which can affect women and other groups negatively.
  • Men can become powerful sponsors of the women they are mentoring and coaching, vouching for their abilities and integrity when a desirable position becomes available.
  • The exposure to women’s thought process, collaborative style, and approach to problem-solving can help men see the value of including more women at higher decision-making levels.
  • The positive impact of working with smart women who are advancing through the ranks can help change the perception that they are a threat to men’s power and elicit more support for women in the organization.
Career coaches

Career coaches

Potential Disadvantages of Men Mentoring and Coaching Women

Because men and women have very different management and leadership styles and because in most companies the top echelon of the organization is highly male, when you assign men as career coaches for women there is a  risk of perpetuating the stereotypes that have created the disparity in the first place. So it behooves you to identify the right men for the job.  Men who embrace change and welcome different approaches and ideas. Those who feel comfortable sharing knowledge and power because they understand that in the end the strategy will benefit the entire organization.

Finally, to achieve your goals of promoting more women to the highest decision-making positions, you might need to assign both a male and a female career coach to your fast track employees. The first one will share insights on the way men climb the ladder and the second will hopefully offer the tweaks necessary to succeed as a woman in your particular company.

Developing Effective Leadership Traits with Training for Latinas

Teaching effective leadership traits at McDonald's Women Career Development training - Hilda Gonzalez McDonald's Facilitator

Teaching effective leadership traits at McDonald’s Women Career Development training

Take a peek into the McDonald’s Women Career Development program that teaches effective leadership skills to Latinas to help them move up the ladder!

It was arctic cold at the Hyatt Lodge in Oakbrook, IL, when a group of forty Latinas came together for a full day of leadership training organized for them exclusively by McDonald’s. The frigid temperature (single digits Fahrenheit!) continued outside, but inside it was all excitement and warm camaraderie.

Handpicked by their supervisors, these restaurant managers spent a day away from running multimillion-dollar businesses and identified effective leadership traits and skills that could help them continue to grow in their careers. With the help of a professional facilitator and five “Big Sisters” (senior women in the organization) they spent eight hours bonding with each other while discussing high impact topics.  You could ask why would people who are already so successful need to be made aware of effective leadership traits. Shouldn’t they already have those leadership traits in order to manage multimillion-dollar restaurants?

The truth is that these powerful Latinas are extremely talented managers who have proven to be invaluable to the organization and who posses many of the typical leadership traits you’d expect in people in their positions. But the corporation believes it would benefit even more if these leaders continued to climb the corporate ladder and to do so, they need to expand their skillset. So McDonald’s is set on helping them achieve their full potential and, in the process, continue to develop the pipeline of outstanding women leaders.

Appreciating specific and effective leadership traits

Through engaging small-group discussions followed by larger group sharing, participants discovered a host of leadership traits that they had in common as women and, particularly, as Latinas.  Among them:

Forty restaurant managers meet to identify effective leadership traits that can help them grow even further within the organization

Forty restaurant managers meet to identify effective leadership traits that can help them grow even further within the organization

"Big sisters", senior women within the organization collaborate with professional facilitator to carry out leadership development program

“Big sisters”, senior women within the organization collaborate with professional facilitator to carry out leadership development program

  • Ability to listen to their customers
  • Family orientation that extends to the way they treat employees
  • Ability to multitask and get things done
  • Strength while able to show emotion
  • A focus on getting their target goals accomplished
  • Supportive of other women’s career advancement
  • Focus on the bottom line
  • Excellent communication skills— Many of them are able to speak two or more languages
  • Courage —In many cases as part of their family’s immigrant history
  • Strong ability to work with teams
The Women Career Development program that McDonald's tailored to Latinas teaches them leadership traits needed to move up the ladder

The Women Career Development program that McDonald’s tailored to Latinas teaches them leadership traits needed to move up the ladder

Focusing on areas of opportunity

The setting of the day, a leadership training program exclusively created for Latinas, was a safe backdrop for a candid conversation where participants could openly admit to cultural elements often responsible for holding them back in their careers. These included:

  • Too much emphasis on overcoming weaknesses rather than on becoming better at one’s strengths
  • Fear of asking for feedback
  • Fear of disappointing one’s family by failing
  • Dealing with different family expectations of a woman’s role than participants’ own expectations for themselves (Families that expect women to be home and take care of their families, husbands who may resent their spouses for making more money than they do, etc.)
  • Lack of confidence in one’s leadership abilities even when the evidence points to strong leadership traits
  • Lack of strong written communication skills needed to move to next level
Discussing key concepts in small groups and reporting back to the group at large helps to build confidence in effective leadership traits

Discussing key concepts in small groups and reporting back to the group at large helps to build confidence in effective leadership traits

By admitting to these cultural characteristics (or baggage, as the group decided to call those Latino traits that may get in the way of career growth) and by learning ways to deal with these characteristics, participants felt a sense of relief and possibility. They also opened themselves to being mentored by more senior women in order to take full advantage of the opportunities available to them at their company.

The resounding success of the leadership-training day underscored how programs designed with a specific demographic in mind and delivered by a sensitive team can positively impact employees. McDonald’s made these Latinas feel valued by offering a space to share culturally relevant insights and by making them feel part of a larger network of women ready to support their career success.

[typography font=”Cantarell” size=”13″ size_format=”px” ]What is your company doing to engage Latinas in the workplace and to promote them up the ranks?[/typography]