Guest Post: Inspiring Women to Lead
There are many types of coaches. Me? I focus on job search strategy, through great resumes, cover letters, networking, social media and interview skills. Using my background as a recruiter forms the foundation - using that street cred to help. Others focus on the psychological areas of coaching, helping people find that direction, understand themselves, gain confidence, and feel empowered to do what’s best for them. Cindy Nash-Hooker, owner of Gold Dog Consulting (and longtime HR executive , is just such a coach. She helped me tremendously as I took my first step into steering my own ship, and continues to be a wonderful resource. I refer many recruiting clients to her for her HR expertise and leadership guidance, as well as prospective clients whose needs I think would be better served by her.
With that, I have asked Cindy to talk about something she is passionate about – working with women to help them become confident and powerful, so that they achieve their career goals. Here are some of her thoughts on how we as women can support, inspire, and lead.
How can women inspire and coach the women who report to them?
In my entire professional career, I’ve had two women supervisors who have inspired me. I’m 52, so that isn’t great, but I will take it. Because of that I chose to become a leader, and to commit to growing other women leaders. My advice to all women leaders is that there will always be someone younger or less experienced than you who asks for advice or help. Be nice, be grateful and find some time to give them.
Right out of college, I was networking my ass off. I was contacting some college alumni. I cold-called a well-positioned VP and asked for an informational interview. She said, “I don’t do that. I don’t find that they are helpful to you or to me.” That was over 18 years ago, and I still remember the rejection clearly. It wasn’t even a helpful rejection.
Since then, I’ve been blessed to be in many leadership positions and I am eternally grateful for the intelligent, strong, generous, warm and beautifully imperfect women that have reported to me, and to the women who have reached out to me for advice or guidance.
Here are five lessons that I have learned to help inspire and grow women leaders:
Build confidence. One of the most pervasive reasons for women to not assume leadership positions is confidence. They doubt their abilities, they under appreciate their wealth of knowledge and experience and they are afraid of failure. Help cultivate these three attributes and you will have rock star employees.
Encourage them to find a coach. While I may be biased, the coaching profession has come a long way to establish its credibility and usefulness in the workplace. I wish I would have had a coach when I was 30. Coaching provides the space for women to truly connect with their emotional intelligence and intuition. Why is that important? Tapping into the source of knowing can provide great clarity and decision-making. You can’t move forward unless you are able to make decisions and act.
Set your ego aside. In his book, Good to Great, Jim Collins talks about a Level 5 leader. While he’s talking about creating great institutions, you cannot make a great institution unless you have great people. He says, “It’s not that Level 5 leaders have no ego or self-interests. Indeed, they are incredibly ambitious—but their ambition is first and foremost for the institution, not themselves.”
Listen. Really listen. Because of lack of clarity (noted above) sometimes women don’t really know what they want. Yes, it’s up to them to figure it out; however, we can ask the compelling questions that stop them in their tracks and cause them to change their perspective, make a decision and do wonderful things.
Celebrate. Once we’ve had a success, women tend to move on to the next challenge. Force those budding rock stars to enjoy the moment of success, not matter how small it is. Give a card, send an email, announce at a staff meeting—anything, just encourage a moment of success. This helps build confidence and helps us to remember the sweet spot. Feeling success when it happens helps us stay in the moment a bit longer. This helps build confidence!
I always say to managers that leading people is the hardest job you will ever have. It’s also really extremely satisfying. I truly desire that those I have supervised or mentored be successful and become awesome leaders.
Want to learn more about Cindy’s work with teams, executives, and other individuals? Find her online at www.golddogconsulting.com.