The Value of Business Coaching and Mentorship
Coaching and mentoring are increasingly becoming some of the most profound ways of developing and also supporting female leaders especially within Africa. There is currently a clear indication that women who choose to be coached and mentored rise up the career ladder much faster, showcasing excellent performance in their jobs.
Both interventions work alongside traditional interventions such as training and practical methods that aid personal and professional growth. Today, life for the African woman has changed as she finds herself competing with global talent given the uptake of technology, which has diminished geographical boundaries. It is definitely not business as usual. Careers are now moving at supersonic speeds and savvy women are no longer thinking about taking simple steps, they are daring to take quantum leaps towards top leadership positions.
Women in leadership on the continent should not be a simple statistic. They need to deliver stratospheric results in order to sustain their positions. Therefore, women have to battle and walk through the jungle of life seamlessly, and if this means seeking help, so be it.
Breaking down psychological barriers then becomes a formidable skill for any woman who wants to rise up in leadership, and sustain that position.
According to the UK’s leading mentor-matching organisation, Mentoring.org, young adults who were at risk of falling off the track but had a mentor are:
- 55% more likely to enrol in college
- 78% more likely to volunteer regularly
- 90% are interested in becoming a mentor
- 130% more likely to hold leadership positions.
Mentorship is a natural space for women because it is relationship-based and women are relationship builders. This means that it requires a form of admiration and positive relationship between the two people so that it can be an effective journey that can also last for a longer time. It also requires some chemistry between mentor and mentee in order for both to reap the full benefits of mentorship.
Today the woman leader has realised that a mentor can be either male or female and age is also not a barrier as long as the mentor has superior knowledge, skill, experience or exposure in the area she is seeking to be assisted with.
In her book ‘Lean In’, Sheryl Sandberg alluded to the fact that one does not have to have 100% excellence in order to go for an opportunity. She goes on to advise that women should learn to seize opportunities that might be a shoe size bigger (or more!), then find ways to grow into the right fit along the way.
As women aspire towards leadership roles, along the journey of life we usually find that opportunities present themselves especially when we do not feel wholly ready. As women our minds battle with many things and self-speech is normal; we are never entirely ready for marriage, we are never completely ready for a career change, we are never fully ready for children and we are never exactly fit for an executive leadership position!. But the good question to ask ourselves is, ‘Who is honestly, ever ready?’
There is a great strategy being used by those women who dare to take on such opportunities in order to actualize their aspirations. On a personal level I have seen it work for ladies who said “yes”, and then what they did was to look for somebody who had succeeded before them to help them through a steep learning curve or major transition.
More often now, women who are afraid of stepping into the unknown waters are choosing to ‘pivot’ or ‘piggy-back’ into the water with the help of those who are experienced enough to understand how deep or cool the water is. It really helps to listen to the stories of others who have been through the jungle before you and who are willing to share with you how they combated the hungry roaring lion, how they dealt with the green snakes in the grass, how they managed to spot the chameleons that took on the color of everything around them, and even how they survived the poisonous plants that looked so delicious when they felt hungry. If you ever want to know how on earth did one go through the jungle, it is best for you to ask someone who has actually done it and succeeded.
A real example could be a woman who wants to open a chain of African cuisine restaurants but knows nothing about pitching to investors. She would definitely benefit from speaking to someone else who owns a chain, manages a chain or has invested in another chain of restaurants before to mentor her towards this audacious goal.
Coaching provides positive support, feedback and advice on an individual or group basis to improve personal effectiveness in the business setting. Business coaching is also called executive coaching, corporate coaching or leadership coaching.
Coaches can have a great positive impact on women in leadership positions especially when they would like to advance towards specific professional goals.
Coaching has been a great way for women to get help along a journey that requires transition or is confusing or whereby there is a need to unlock an internal resource or potential that is already within. Good coaches are now popular and they use skilful questioning to be able to help women in executive positions unpack the things hindering them from really achieving your full potential or even reaching a simple decision.
The most common types of coaching that women seek are life coaches, and this is simply because as a natural multi-tasker, sometimes the illusion of being ‘super-woman or super-mom’ can become a real threat. Human beings need to remain authentic to their inner centre and accept when the journey is to too tough to tread alone and this is where women are increasingly seeking help.
Today’s woman is confident enough to understand that her mother or her best friend cannot solve all her challenges. Therefore, seeking coaches to help her work through issues such as life-work balance, managing objection at work, effective leadership, or even public speaking.
Case Study – Lynnette Wairimu – Richemele International – Executive Business Manager
“I don’t want to look back when I am 40 and say that I could have done this, or I should have done that.” This is what Lynnette lives by. She started her mentorship journey about 2 years back and she believes there’s no substitute for the kind of wisdom and experience that a mentor can offer.
She adds “For anybody starting out in business or struggling with all of the different roles and responsibilities, lacking confidence in making decisions, or wasting time trying things that don’t prove to be useful can be problematic. I, therefore, chose a mentor that not only has a strong business and analytical background, but also a personality that could help direct my choleric energy towards positive results. Admiration and trust take centre place in our relationship. My advice to young female leaders is that finding the right answers and solutions with the help of a great mentor can make a young individual more effective, quickly. As my mentor says ‘If you want to get to your destination faster but with a smooth ride, choose a Rolls Royce not a bicycle!’”
It is important to note that both coaching and mentorship relationships might require an investment of time and finance. However, driven women understand the priceless value and return on investment when they reap positive impact, personally and professionally. Finally, given the excellent benefits, corporates and small business owners are now embracing coaching and mentorship as growth and development interventions. This has facilitated the rise in corporate level programs, some of them specifically targeting women.