Home Tools and Applications Executive Coaching Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

Executive Coaches Share Openly and Unselfishly: Dynamic Panel Discussion at ICF Annual Conference 2003

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Bill: A majority of the people in this room are women. In executive coaching, the majority of people who do executive coaching are women. The majority of the people being coached are men. So, one of the interesting things about our profession is the fact that male executives are more often than not being coached by a woman. I’ve given a number of speeches over the years and the one that has generated the most attention is one I did in Los Angeles several years ago, on the subject of gender-the relationship of male coaches to female clients or colleagues we call them–vice versa. I think it’s such a critical point for women as coaches who are coaching men. Often, for the men there is a powerful (and sometimes disturbing) realization: this is a woman who they wish their significant other could be like. I think this is an important issue. I see this again and again. I talk with men who have female coaches and they say: “I wish my wife could listen to me the way my coach does.” That’s profoundly unfair to the wife because they’re involved in the issue. Many of the women I work with as coaches say one of the first things they do is they want to meet with the man’s significant other, at least once, so they recognize that this female coach is not a threat.

Mary Beth: Here is one distinction I see when I talk to the bosses of my clients, who are impatient with their direct reports for not displaying more executive potential. I find that the bosses of men can get frustrated that these men don’t take more initiative when the opportunity arises. They seem to want more direction. Whereas the women seem to take a lot of initiative but they’re not good at setting boundaries­ they take on way too many things. And then they don’t have an executive presence because now they’re running around trying to be all things to all people. They can easily become burned out because they’re taking on too many things.

Bob: One of the biggest challenges for the male executives is how they have to shift when it’s time for women to come into the boy’s club. There are very significant coaching needs so they can clearly understand how to make that shift.

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