Last updated 28 June, 2023

Reclaiming the spotlight: coaching strategies for female leaders returning to work

Empowering women in leadership roles has gained recognition in recent years. However, many women still face a significant challenge in re-entering the workforce after taking a break for reasons such as maternity leave, caregiving, or personal pursuits. To make the transition smooth and help them reach their potential, returning female leaders can benefit from targeted coaching. Here we will outline six impactful coaching focus areas that cater specifically to women returning to work, aiming to provide optimal support for their professional growth and success.

1. Acknowledge Their Unique Journey

Returning to work after a career break can be an emotional and daunting experience for many women. Acknowledge and validate their journey, recognise the skills, knowledge, and experience they bring, and help them appreciate their personal growth. Creating a supportive and non-judgmental environment is the cornerstone of a successful coaching experience.

2. Tailor Coaching Programs to Individual Needs

Every returning female leader has unique goals, aspirations, and challenges. One-size-fits-all coaching programs may not address their specific needs effectively. Instead, they may benefit from a more personalised approach where assessments are conducted alongside discussions to better understand their aspirations, strengths, areas for development, and concerns. Customised coaching programs can help them navigate challenges and boost their confidence as they reintegrate into the workforce.

3. Building Confidence and Overcoming Imposter Syndrome

Many women returning to work may experience imposter syndrome, doubting their abilities and feeling like they don’t belong. Coaching is critical in building their self-confidence, reframing negative self-perceptions, and cultivating a growth mindset. Coaches can help them identify their unique strengths, celebrate their achievements, and develop strategies to overcome self-doubt, fostering a positive and empowering mindset.

4. Skills Development and Upskilling

Returning female leaders possess valuable skills. However, it’s essential to address any gaps resulting from their career break or changes in their industry. Coaching can facilitate skills development and upskilling through helping women set and attain goals related to pursuing new training, as well as seeking mentoring and guidance. Coaches can help identify areas where additional learning or upskilling is required and design a roadmap for acquiring new knowledge and enhancing existing competencies.

5. Work-Life Integration and Resilience

Balancing professional responsibilities with personal commitments is a challenge for many women. Effective coaching can help returning female leaders develop strategies to integrate work and life successfully, ensuring they maintain their overall wellbeing. Coaches can guide them in setting boundaries, managing time effectively, delegating tasks, and creating support networks. Additionally, resilience-building techniques, stress management strategies, and self-care practices can help them navigate the demands of their professional and personal lives.

6. Networking Opportunities

Building a robust professional network is crucial for career advancement. Coaches can support returning female leaders by providing guidance on networking strategies and helping them to get connected with relevant industry professionals. Additionally, coaches can assist these women in defining and building their personal brand, ensuring that they effectively communicate their skills, expertise, and unique value proposition to potential employers or collaborators. By crafting a compelling personal brand, returning female leaders can differentiate themselves in the competitive job market and seize new opportunities with confidence.

Empowering Returning Female Leaders

Empowering returning female leaders with targeted coaching is beneficial to foster diversity, inclusion, and gender equality in leadership positions. Supporting and providing coaching for returning women leaders is the first step towards creating an environment where women can thrive and make significant contributions. By acknowledging their journey, tailoring coaching programs, building confidence, developing skills, promoting work-life integration, and facilitating networking opportunities, organisations can support the success of these remarkable leaders.

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