It has become clear in this past year of crisis that women need support more than ever.

How can we as coaches make a difference to our female clients if we don’t coach women differently from men?

Just in the past week I have coached several women who were struggling with work overload, juggling their professional commitments with home-schooling children and still largely responsible for running the household.

One woman told me she never had time for herself; fully committed to her work she had accumulated 34 holiday days; she always did all her shopping online even before lockdown because it was something she could do when everyone else was asleep; she didn’t have time to talk to her children about anything other than their school work. And she was at pains to say she had a supportive husband.

She said she had read all the books about coping with stress, just as she had read all the diet books. She just couldn’t put any of it into practice.

Women have had the power of choice taken away from them. They find themselves on a treadmill with no idea of how they got there and no idea how to get off. As coaches our job is to give them back the power of choice: to choose whether they want to get off the treadmill. The choice is the first step to the future.

We need to coach women to find the confidence to make the important choices in their lives by asking powerful questions about choice, questions that will probably surprise them, because nobody has taken the time or shown the interest to ask these questions before. And many women have not thought it worthwhile to ask them of themselves.

  1. How do you want to live?

We can offer pictures that will release associations

  1. What do you see when you look forward?

A guided visualisation can be useful here. Take the coachee on their path to a future place and let them see, feel, smell and hear what it is like.

  1. What words do you choose to live by and which do you reject?

The coachee may find her own words. If she needs help, we can offer pairs of opposites:  woe or wisdom…fear or peace….blame or compassion….neglect or care; and explore what these mean in practice.

Is any of this different to the way you would coach a male client? No, probably not. But the context is almost certainly different. The expectations may be different. The beliefs are probably different. And as coaches we should be aware of these differences. If we are not sensitive towards the challenges that women face because they are women, we are not serving our female clients well enough.

Career and Leadership Coach Susan Doering is passionate to help clients solve challenges and achieve their goals, by guiding, empowering and enabling them to work at their best.