Mentoring Women for Career Development

Mentoring Women Blog


I have been mentoring women for decades, well before we knew the word “mentoring” or “coaching”. As women develop their careers, there are particular challenges they face that are unique to them. While we have come a long way in reducing those challenges, they still persist. While there are CEOs and leaders who have acknowledged these challenges and made changes in their organisations that proactively support women’s career development, there are still many obstacles that are in the way. That’s where mentoring becomes such an important process in supporting women to reach their full potential.

It is my experience that the women who come to me are already very competent and highly motivated, yet they so frequently feel they are stopped in their tracks by systems and/or a social reality that does not allow them to go where they want to go. It is often difficult to find, within their existing organisations, the supportive career development that would take them forward.

This is where mentoring is so successful. It focuses on the very challenges each individual woman is facing, and they are different for each. It helps them discover talents and abilities they didn’t know they had.  It helps them articulate their skills and see them in a context that foreshadows their future career aspirations. It is very empowering, resulting in them confidently seeing and seizing opportunities.

Mentoring Women

While my mentoring is very individualised and personalised, there are six issues that I will ensure the women I mentor are attending to. Some have already mastered some; few have mastered all. If you want to develop and enhance your career opportunities here are my recommendations for what you need to prioritise.

What Women Need To Do To Advance Their Careers

Have A Career Development Plan

You need to have a vision for where you want your career to go and why and have a plan for making it happen. This will build on your existing skills, seeking opportunities that will develop and enhance them. I can help you map those skills and their transferability, as well as help you gain insight into your talents and abilities of which you may not have been aware. The mentoring will also help you become aware of your skill gaps and how you can develop those to achieve your career vision. Obviously in these uncertain and unpredictable times, such a plan needs to have flexibility and adaptability built into it. It is not a linear, step by step plan either. The career ladder was broken a long time ago.

Develop Your Network

Women, particularly mothers, have traditionally not prioritised this, given the demands and prioritising of family outside of work. Yet your network represents your net-worth career wise and is crucially important. No longer can you develop your career just on WHAT you know. WHO you know is now often more important. These are the people both within and outside your existing organisation who can support and promote your career advancement. Being a strong networker myself I have well developed skills in helping the women I mentor build those important connections and relationships.

Build A Social Media Presence

Like it or not, you need a presence on social media. In the mentoring, I will work with you to develop a social media strategy and reason for being there. That will determine which social media platform/s will give you the outcome you want, the most impact. I will then help you create a profile there and work with you on how to use that media to build your professional brand, your professional identity, what you want to be known for.

Create Your Professional Identity

As I’ve said above this is part of creating your professional brand. You gain clarity about how you want to show up. You need to spend as much time working on who you want to BE, as you do on what you want to DO. People “buy” who you are, not what you “sell”. This is about becoming clear about your values so that who you are, what you believe, what you do, and how you do it are all congruent. My experience and expertise is in this very area and in the mentoring I will take you on a journey which will lead you to create and enhance that professional identity.

Learn To Self-Promote

Women have tended not to be good at this. Yet it is very important for women to find ways  to be visible and to have their experience and expertise acknowledged. Surveys reveal they recognise that their lack of confidence in their abilities jeopardises their careers. One Harvard Business Review survey showed that two thirds of women did not consider they could be CEOs until someone else told them. Women find that there are too many male role models whose ways of self-promoting do not sit well with them. Unable to find women whose ways of self-promoting resonate with them, they tend to shy away from any self-promotion. I can help women self-promote and find opportunities to be visible that sit well with them.

Integrate Work And Family

This is one of the greatest challenges for women whether they are mothers or child free because they tend to prioritise family and close relationships over everything else. When the going gets tough they too often choose family because they can’t see another way through. When they prioritise work, often because they feel they have no choice, they then experience guilt and anguish. Today we live in a space where women can have everything – but not all at once. The planning for how we can have it all is an exciting one that I can help you navigate in mentoring. It is possible to find ways to bring about a creative flow between work and family.

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