What distinguishes Kate McGuinness as a coach?
I spent my time in the trenches as an associate at Big Law, served as a partner there for 10 years and then went on to serve as General Counsel of a Fortune 250 company. During this time I experienced many of the challenges that face women today as they struggle to succeed in male-dominated work environments. Also, I experienced the stress of a failed marriage and raising a child as single parent. Because of my experience in Big Law and the C-Suite, I can help clients:
● Meet a higher standard than male counterparts to be considered a success
● Walk the tightrope between being perceived as “too masculine” (aggressive) and “too feminine” (agreeable)
● Decide when or whether to have a child and manage the perception that a mother’s work commitment is diminished
● Be the primary breadwinner in a committed relationship
● Deal with unreasonable work demands from senior partners and clients that skew an already fragile work-life balance
● Combat implicit gender bias, outright gender discrimination and sexual harassment
● Counteract a lack of support from senior women who guard their status as “ice queens” or who snipe at female associates for failing to meet their personal definition of what it means to be a professional
● Evaluate a career change
● Return to work after a long hiatus
● Find fulfillment after retiring
These challenges are described in the terminology of a legal career but the issues are similar in other professional services occupations such as accounting, medicine, engineering, architecture and consulting. In fact, women in just about any occupation may face them.
Exactly how do you help clients?
I can accelerate a client’s progress on the path toward her desired future by:
● Holding her in unconditional positive regard, avoiding judgment and creating a space where she can be authentic and free to experiment, fantasize and strategize without criticism
● Being fully present in the moment with the client
● Asking powerful questions. Often, powerful questions are those the client doesn’t know the answer to immediately but that, upon reflection, enhance the client’s understanding
● Increasing the client’s awareness of her strengths, values and obstacles
● Challenging a client to extend beyond her perceived limits
● Helping the client clarify goals and identify what needs to change to achieve them
● Working with the client to identify practices that support her goals
● Starting and finishing with the client’s agenda. I guide only the process.
How is coaching different from therapy or consulting or mentoring?
Coaches partner with with stable, fully-functioning clients to help them propel themselves to the next level by using the skills, resources and creativity the clients already have.
Therapists treat patients to heal dysfunction and conflict. The focus of therapy tends to be on reviewing the past and prior experiences that have led to the current challenges.
Consultants apply substantive expertise to diagnose problems, prescribe and, sometimes, implement solutions.
Mentors are experienced individuals who share professional tips related to their own growth and development in specific roles, organizations, or areas of expertise.
It may help to understand the differences by considering the maxim “Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
A therapist may help the man understand why he hasn’t been able to catch fish in the past.
A consultant may provide the fish.
A mentor may explain how she learned to fish.
A coach helps the client develop a fishing technique that works in her own unique situation.
What are the steps of the coaching process?
(1) Understanding the current situation by considering you as a whole person in all aspects of your life. This phase may include assessments and gathering data from stakeholders.
(2) Envisioning the desired future: how will your life be different?
(3) Building a plan for change that includes practices to increase your awareness and to bring about behavioral changes.
(4) Executing the plan which will include experiential learning, measuring progress against your goals and, as work advances, developing practices to sustain the change.
(5) Examining the overall effectiveness of the process and providing follow-up and support.
How do I know if I am ready for coaching?
Coaching requires both a time commitment and a financial commitment. The successful client must have a willingness to assess inner strengths and weaknesses and the courage to make behavioral changes. To decide whether you are ready to be coached, take my free coachability quiz.
How do I choose a coach?
It is important to ensure you are working with a certified, professional coach. This means the coach has invested significant effort to obtain coach-specific training and has completed a rigorous credential process, such as the training and certification programs governed by the International Coach Federation.
Beyond certification, you should consider other factors. Coaching will be effective only if you trust and respect the input of your coach. Interview a number of candidates and ask questions such as:
- What are their qualifications to coach? Do they have specialized training and certifications? Do they have relevant professional or life experience? Can they relate personally to you, the issues you want to work on, and the goals you want to achieve?
- What is their coaching philosophy and approach to personal change?
- Do they use a specific coaching model? Ask them to describe it.
- Do they offer a first time complementary session? What is their policy regarding missed/cancelled sessions? How do they charge for their services?
Then there is the chemistry – the all important ‘fit’ that is hard to quantify but essential for success. How does the conversation feel to you, is the coach fully present? Does the coach seem engaged in the conversation? Is the style of the coach one that you find comfortable? Do you sense a connection?
Before starting, ask your coach to provide a written agreement that documents the scope, objectives, timing, fees, the manner in which the coaching engagement will be conducted and anything else that’s important to you.
How do I get started with Empowered Women Coaching?
Contact me directly and I will schedule an initial session to discuss your needs and goals. We will talk about our professional relationship and begin to develop a plan to work together. Once we are both comfortable that it is the right fit, we can map out timing, frequency, and other details.