Executive Coaching for Women: My Experience

Executive coaching for women has become increasingly popular over the years, and for good reason.

Studies have shown an incredible return on investment in executive coaching (nearly 6X the cost). Benefits include improved productivity, retention, management skills, teamwork, and job satisfaction.

An executive coach can push you to do your best work, provide a confidential sounding board, and identify missing skills or practices.

Women are still underrepresented in leadership positions, and the benefits of coaching can be crucial in progressing women’s careers. According to a McKinsey study, women are just as ambitious as men, but they face stronger headwinds than men, making it harder to advance. An executive coach can help navigate these challenges.

Deciding to hire an executive coach

I’ve always loved to work. Over nearly two decades, I progressed from an entry-level to an executive-level position. I’ve enjoyed and learned so much from the entire journey.

However, during the time in my life when I thought of hiring an executive coach, I felt very stressed. Juggling my three kids (with a half dozen extracurricular activities), husband, and demanding job were challenging my sanity. I’m also the sole breadwinner in my house, so taking a break or working less was not an option!

I needed some help maneuvering through this situation, so I hired an executive coach.

This decision and the learnings gained through executive coaching propelled me on multiple levels.

Executive Coaching for Women: Finding a coach

There are many ways to structure executive coaching, including one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and in-person or online. In addition, some coaches have pre-planned programs with steps, and some operate in a more open and flexible format.

To find an executive coach, the first thing I did was start asking other executive women for recommendations.

There are also plenty of online resources to help find the right coach. Two of my favorite tools are International Coaching Foundation’s Coach Finder and Career Contessa’s pre-vetted coaches.

Be sure to read reviews, understand the coach’s experience, and learn about any coaching certifications or training they may have.

The cost for executive coaching can range anywhere from $100 to $350+ per session. Multi-week programs can vary from $1,200 to $10,000+, depending on the length and intensity.

I talked to a few executive coaches to understand available formats, methods, and mindsets. I also wanted a coach who had experience working in Corporate America. One of the coaches I talked to seemed to understand my goals and challenges, and I connected with her, so I went for it.

Executive Coaching for Women: My Program

The program I chose included four main parts. But we started with a get-to-know-you survey and an introductory call. My coach also asked me for my LinkedIn profile, personality test results, and information on my goals for the coaching.

Then it was time to get started.

ONE: Self-Guided Work

The program included several self-guided assignments made up of watching videos and doing homework.

The self-guided topics included:

  • Reviewing past successes and career history
  • Reflecting on fulfillment levels along the way
  • Developing a plan to have maximum fulfillment in both work and personal life
  • Identifying your personal brand
  • Updating your resume and LinkedIn profile
  • Networking

The self-guided work was a great way to clarify what’s working and what’s not so you can fix it.

TWO: Coaching Calls

After completing each assignment, I submitted it to the coach for review. She reviewed it, and then we discussed it in a coaching call.

I found the combination of doing the self-guided work and then having the coach talk me through it very helpful.

Even though she didn’t know me very well, she was able to narrow in on interesting things that helped me overcome issues and think about things differently.

She quickly spotted areas where I felt fulfilled and what that could mean, helped me see other ways of dealing with things I was struggling with and challenged me to be more authentic in my work life.

THREE: Group Coaching

This program included optional weekly group coaching sessions. The format of these calls was relatively open – people brought up any issue they were struggling with, and the coach and other coachees weighed in with thoughts.

I was surprised at how helpful it was to meet other people going through the same coaching process as me and hear them discussing their issues with the coach and the group.

FOUR: Client Retreat

Lastly, the coach hosted an annual in-person client retreat with other women who have done the coaching programs.

It’s a day and a half of learning, growing, and developing new relationships.

This retreat was exceptionally well done, and I got so much out of it. It was like hitting the reset button — I came away motivated and ready to tackle anything that came my way.

Executive Coaching for Women: The Results

I found the experience overall to be incredibly beneficial and worth every penny. Some insights I had were:

  • I love doing the type of work I do. I was reminded that I’d been striving for a position like the one I have for many years. I felt a greater sense of gratitude.
  • I realized there were ways to make my work life more enjoyable, but I had to be more intentional about incorporating them in my day-to-day routine. There were many learning opportunities, leadership opportunities, and networking opportunities, I just had to make an effort to make it happen.
  • I needed to commit to better balance in my work and home life. I found ways to improve both work and home life through delegating, asking for what I needed, and using my time better.
  • I need a group of women supporters. I work in a discipline with few women leaders, so often there is no one to talk to about my unique challenges. I needed this group of women and their support.
  • I realized I am in control of my destiny and that if my life doesn’t feel like it’s working, it’s my responsibility to make it different. There’s always another way.
  • The coach challenged me to pay more attention to my health, including improving my sleepdaily meditation, and eating healthier foods.

Executive coaching for women

Hiring an executive coach was a step outside my comfort zone, but I’m so glad I did it. It opened up a whole new world of possibilities and opportunities. I feel more in control and responsible for my destiny.

About the author

Nina Sheridan is a seasoned author at Latterly.org, a blog renowned for its insightful exploration of the increasingly interconnected worlds of business, technology, and lifestyle. With a keen eye for the dynamic interplay between these sectors, Nina brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to her writing. Her expertise lies in dissecting complex topics and presenting them in an accessible, engaging manner that resonates with a diverse audience.