Coaching Men vs Women (Skai Ltd Research)
Coaching Men vs Coaching Women Research Summary – August 2007 BACKGROUND SKAI is a long established leadership development consultancy, that has coached 100’s of senior leaders, men and women, over the years. As an organisation founded by four women, we have always fought shy of any gender-based typecasting, taking the stance that all people are different, regardless of their sex. More recently, we have been asked to get involved in furthering the cause of women leaders, as many organisations are interested in tapping this pool of talent.
They have found it very challenging to do so, and recent research done by a leading consultancy shows that women in middle managerial positions are exiting the workplace faster than ever. Whilst women at the most senior levels are slowly increasing, if the pool of talent below them is getting smaller and smaller then it’s only a matter of time before this positive and hard-fought trend alters. As we build an ever-larger case history for coaching, we at SKAI can see that much as it sometimes pains us to admit it, there ARE it seems generalised, but still significant differences to at least consider when coaching men vs coaching women.
It is often extremely useful to be able to show such data to our coachees, as even if they feel they differ from the generalisations, it helps them enormously to understand how they risk being perceived by others, and adopt suitable mitigating strategies. So, in order to help our clients wanting to promote more women, to inform our own coaching practice, and to provide data for our coaches, we felt the time was right to dig deeper into the experiences a large number of coaches have had. What follows is a summary of the research we carried out during the summer of 2007, together with some of our observations and conclusions.
RESULTS SUMMARY DETAILS OF PARTICIPANTS 53 people responded to the questionnaire providing information on a total of 297 coaching relationships 41% were women and 59% were men The majority (87%) coached in the UK rather than in Europe or internationally Most (77%) were professional external coaches, 23% were internal coaches either as dedicated coaches (6%) or coaching as part of their role as a manager (17%) Most participants (61%) spent on average less than 20% of their available work time on coaching activities. 22% of coaches spent 60% of their available time or more on coaching activities. 7% spent nearly all of their available work time on coaching. (This includes set up, organisation, review, administration etc. as well as actual face-to-face coaching time) Nearly half of the paid coaches charged in excess of ? 200 per hour. Nearly a third charged between ? 150 and ? 200 per hour 64% had been coaching for more than 5 years. 23% had been coaching for less than 3 years Of those coaching in excess of 5 years, the majority (58%) charged in excess of ? 200 per hour. Of those coaching less than 5 years 20% charged in excess of ? 200 per hour Most coaches (55%) had coached less than 15 people over the previous 2 years. 5% of coaches had however coached well in excess of this number (over 30), bringing the average number of people coached to around 18. 34% of coaches had coached less than 10 people over the previous 2 years Most coaches (55%) coached equal numbers of men and women. 26% of coaches coached more men. 19% of coaches coached more women Of the coaches who coached more men (14 coaches), 71% of them were male themselves. Of the coaches who coached more women (10 coaches), 80% were women themselves. Of those who coached similar numbers of men vs women (29 coaches), 69% were men. © SKAI Associates Ltd 2008 Page 1 V1 © SKAI Ltd 2007
Coaching Men vs Coaching Women Research Summary – August 2007 MOST COMMON COACHING GOALS We asked coaches to provide information on coaching goals for three of their male coachees, and on three of their female coachees. For some of the coaches who had smaller portfolios there were omissions to the data – 15 men and 6 women. Thus the final tally is data for 144 male coachees and for 153 female ones, 297 in total. Yellow denote where the rankings between men and women differ by 2 places. Red denotes where the rankings between men and women differ by 3 places. Male Coachees Female Coachees Where This Rank Where This Rank Applied Applied
Personal impact and gravitas 59 – 41% 3 81 – 53% 1 Improving relationship at work 65 – 45% 2 60 – 39% 3 Leadership skills 74 – 51% 1 58 – 38% 4 Career advancement 56 – 39% 4 72 – 47% 2 Worklife balance 44 – 30% 7 49 – 32% 6 Stress mitigation 23 – 16% 9 29 – 19% 8 Improved strategic thinking 54 – 37% 6 54 – 35% 5 Time management 32 – 22% 8 25 – 16% 9 Communication skills 55 – 38% 5 46 – 30% 7 Other goals 18 – 12% 10 22 – 14% 10 Goal Area MOST COMMON PERSONAL DRIVERS Coaches were asked what they thought their coachees top three drivers were – again for 3 male coachees and for 3 female ones.
As before incomplete results were obtained – a shortfall of 18 men leaving a total of 141 male coachees, and a shortfall of 11 women leaving a total of 148 female coachees. A sample of 289 in all. Yellow denote where the rankings between men and women differ by 2 places. Red denotes where the rankings between men and women differ by 3 places.
Male Coachees Female Coachees Where This Rank Where This Was Rank Was Cited Cited Challenge 52 – 37% 2 47 – 32% 1 Communication 20 – 14% 7 20 – 14% 7 Excitement 9 – 6% 11 8 – 5% 11 Fast pace 14 – 10% 8 11 – 7% 10 Freedom 13 – 9% 9 14 – 9% 9 Fun 11 – 8% 10 8 – 5% 11 Independence 20 – 14% 7 26 – 18% 5 Influencing 33 – 23% 3 44 – 30% 2 Leadership 56 – 40% 1 36 – 24% 3 Learning 18 – 13% 6 21 – 14% 7 Making decisions 31 – 22% 4 21 – 14% 7 Place of work 11 – 8% 10 10 – 7% 10 Problem solving 30 – 21% 5 20 – 14% 7 Recognition 31 – 22% 4 26 – 18% 5 Relationships 20 – 14% 7 30 – 20% 4 Self expression 12 – 8% 10 23 – 15% 6 Status 26 – 18% 6 16 – 11% 8 Variety 7 – 5% 12 8 – 5% 11 Working with others 7 – 5% 12 8 – 5% 11 Other 14 – 10% 8 14 – 9% 9 Drivers © SKAI Associates Ltd 2008 Page 2 V1 © SKAI Ltd 2007 Coaching Men vs Coaching Women Research Summary – August 2007 ABOUT WHAT TYPICALLY HOLDS PEOPLE BACK WHEN BEING COACHED The coaches were asked what they felt held their male coachees back, and what held their female coachees back. 9% of coaches (most of whom were men) said there was no difference in the things that held men vs women back. 91% cited differences.
The following table shows the top three reasons given for each, and the corresponding percentage of total answers: Reason 1 Reason 2 Reason 3 Other reasons • Lack of self confidence/belief/fea r of failure (15%) • Fixed perceptions of things and people – inflexible and don’t learn (15%) • Poor self awareness, wont accept learning needs or feedback (15%) • Guilt – cannot spend time on selves, what about everyone else, poor at making requests and planning (12%) • Need for more recognition and reward than is available – cannot self-advocate and harbour resentments (10%) Men Balancing a high task focus with the need to actively and sensitively manage relationships 22% of total
Overly status conscious, unable to admit weakness or ask for help, poor collaboration skills 17% of total Poor at time management, too much operational focus at expense of strategic, poor at delegation 17% of total Women Limited self belief, over self deprecation and general lack of personal confidence 37% of total Low levels of vision and ambition, poor self awareness of ability, riskaverse 22% of total Unwilling to confront/have tough discussions thus not rated by type A men/organisations and seen as too reasonable – in effect conflicting personal values 18% of total COACHES COACHING RESULTS – MEN VS WOMEN The coaches were asked to say whether they felt they got better coaching results with men, or women. 2% of coaches felt there was a difference. (This 62% was split 54% men/45% women). Of the 62% who felt there was a difference, 30% thought they got better results with men, and 70% thought they got better results with women. Of the 30% who thought they got better results with men, 70% were men themselves, 30% were women. Of the 70% who thought they got better results with women, 47% were men and 52% were women. Where better results with men were achieved, the three most commonly stated reasons were: • • • Men are more decisive and get moving faster Men are less defensive and insecure, and are thus more willing to listen to challenge Men are more prepared to challenge the status quo.
Where better results with women were achieved, the three most commonly stated reasons were: • • • Women are generally more receptive to coaching, and are much more prepared to be open Women are more emotionally intelligent Women are more prepared to learn and improve, are receptive to ideas and actions. Page 3 V1 © SKAI Associates Ltd 2008 © SKAI Ltd 2007 Coaching Men vs Coaching Women Research Summary – August 2007 COACHES PREFERENCE FOR COACHING MEN OR WOMEN 58% of coaches said they had a preference – 29% said they preferred coaching men, and 71% said they preferred coaching women. Of the 29% who said they preferred coaching men, 55% were men and 45% were women.
Of the 71% who said they preferred coaching women, 59% were men and 41% were women. OBSERVATIONS Many coaches spend a surprisingly low amount of their available work time on coaching. Most have other sources of income-earning activity as well. Most experienced coaches (5 years+) charge over ? 200 per hour – it is unusual for less experienced coaches to charge this amount. Most coaches coach a small number of people (7 per annum or less), but there is a sizeable minority group who coach a significantly higher numbers than this. Likely coaching earnings for one of these “super” coaches will be in the region of ? 36k pa+. Average earnings for all coaches is around ? 1k pa, but the majority will be earning less than ? 13kpa. This correlates with the recent ICF/PWC global coaching study Most coaches coach equal numbers of men and women. We know from our previous research that coaching is usually only offered at senior management level and above, and that there are disproportionately low numbers of women in this audience. Therefore it is apparent that disproportionately larger numbers of women are taking up coaching offers than men. The majority of coaches said they had a gender preference (although a significant number also said they didn’t mind who they coached). Of these there was a marked preference for coaching women.
Data points to this being because women are experienced as more receptive and “up for” coaching, which also fits with the feminine tendency to have less self belief and confidence. Coaches report that women are potentially more open to learning (as long as they are not asked to take unacceptable levels of risk) which is appealing to coaches, who want to get on and do their job rather than walk on eggs or deal with having to prove coaching as a concept before even getting started. Coaches did however find the male tendencies to decisiveness and action appealing, and the female ones of neediness for recognition, and harbouring resentment wearing Coaches were even more emphatic that they felt they got better coaching results from women – in the main this was because of women’s greater receptiveness.
Women are also far less confident however, and thus less likely to challenge the coach or coaching as a principle, which may account for some of the coaches’ opinions here in that they get a more comfortable ride with a female client , and feel they are definitely making a difference (as the female client is less likely to confront the coach if they feel the coaching isn’t of value). A small number of coaches expressed strong opinion that there were no gender differences when coaching men and women, but the volume of data collected would seem to indicate this is not the case. Even though it is regarded as “non PC” by some to refer to gender differences, it would seem that they are real. Coaching goals differed between men and women. The key difference was a much greater focus on leadership by men than by women, who seem to be less personally ambitious or power hungry.
Women on the other hand were more inclined than men to work on their personal impact and gravitas. Given the fact that women were also less confrontational and assertive, it would seem likely that their coaching is focusing on different ways to make their presence felt effectively – a good thing. Women also tended to want coaching on career advancement – men had greater self belief, perhaps meaning they didn’t feel they needed support on this score. Men on the Page 4 V1 © SKAI Associates Ltd 2008 © SKAI Ltd 2007 Coaching Men vs Coaching Women Research Summary – August 2007 other hand needed more coaching help for communication skills and relationship building than women , who were more confident in these areas .
Men and women are driven by different things at work. Men are far more excited by decision making, problem solving and fast pace than women, but women value relationships and self expression much more than men. Men are more motivated than women by being leaders and having status, but women value independence (doing things in their way rather than being dictated to) more than men, who find it easier to fit in to corporate norms. There was some evidence that women with family responsibilities feel this more. Both sexes valued challenge, ability to influence and recognition – surely a good shorthand for growing successful leaders, men and women. Men and women are held back by different things.
Men are held back by extreme task focus, poor relationship building and management skills, and inability to admit weakness/learning need or ask for help (gives some insight into why they are less receptive to coaching). Women are significantly lacking in self belief, have much lower levels of vision and ambition and are conflict and risk averse. Given that most organisations are culturally more male dominated, it’s useful to ask the question “what would the female traits, if nurtured, bring to the organisation? ” Successful coaching will not turn a woman into a man to be successful, but find ways to have a woman’s natural traits and abilities deployed at scale in the workplace.
One speculates that their greater abilities at collaboration would deliver creativity, and their conflict and risk averse nature bring about more organisational resilience and band width (and perhaps be nicer places to be for more people). It is interesting to compare these findings with SKAI’s earlier research on uninspiring leaders, a disproportionate number of whom were women. It would seem likely that these “toxic” female leaders had in fact made their way by trying to ape male behaviour whilst having female traits – an unsuccessful strategy as far as their subordinates were concerned, and one suspects a very stressful and unrewarding one for the women themselves. Irena Sobolewska SKAI Ltd irena. sobolewska@skai. co. uk © SKAI Associates Ltd 2008 Page 5 V1 © SKAI Ltd 2007