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Coaching Women Leaders with Whole Brain® Thinking

by | Jun 30, 2022

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In a recent Certified Practitioners Workshop, Master Facilitator and Green Leaf Consulting founder, Cynthia Radford discussed the 7 Power Gaps that prevent professional women from achieving their highest potential (researched and written by Kathy Caprino).

A power gap between leaders and their staff can have disastrous consequences for an organisation. It can cause the leader to become isolated and out of touch with what’s going on, and it can blind them to potential problems. The larger the power gap, the more dangerous it can become.

To avoid these dangers, leaders need to be aware of the potential for a power gap to develop and take steps to prevent it. They should stay connected with their staff, and keep communication open. Leaders should also be willing to listen to feedback, even if it’s critical.

Women will have a higher chance of experiencing power gaps in the workplace compared to men. We have listed seven of the most common power gaps that women leaders may experience during their time at work. By utilising Whole Brain® Thinking, strong leaders may be able to overcome these gaps and challenges and thrive within their organisation.

Power Gap 1: Not recognising your special talents, abilities and accomplishments

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I’m not special or talented in any way.”

This gap touches on the difficulty that many women have in recognising and naming their special talents, abilities and skills. Many feel they’re not “special” at all. If you can’t name how you stand out and what you do that’s unique and valuable, or if you can’t recognise what you do well and how your work and contributions are important, then you can’t leverage your strengths or effectively monetise them. And you won’t thrive in your work.

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Data points on the HBDI®, looking at your key descriptors, and looking at your work elements.

B Quadrant: Clusters on the HBDI®, to help see where your strengths lie and help identify which areas you can get more experienced at.

C Quadrant: Ask your workmates what your strengths are, and follow the trends from there.

D Quadrant: What hobbies bring you joy? What takes you to your happy place and what skills are you using in these areas.

Power Gap 2: Communicating from fear not strength

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I can’t speak up confidently or with authority.” Women often struggle with how to communicate their accomplishments and abilities or what they need and want in a clear, confident way. They fear they’ll sound like they’re “bragging” or that they’re trying to grab too much of the credit for the great outcomes they’ve produced or supported. And many have been penalised or punished for appearing too “assertive” or confident so they’re afraid to speak up powerfully.

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Track how often you use weaker language to help you create data points.

B Quadrant: Create a list of agenda points before meetings to help make sure you talk about all the important information you want to cover.

C Quadrant: Get feedback from colleagues on how you are communicating, can be done by getting them to proofread your emails as an example. 

D Quadrant: Imagining potential outcomes, what would happen if I did speak up?

Power Gap 3: Reluctance to ask for what you deserve

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I feel I deserve more, but I’m afraid to ask and don’t know how.” The majority of women I work with are stymied as to how to ask for a raise or promotion, or even how to determine the very first step to figuring out what they should be asking for, to build a better, more rewarding career. An example of this: Research has shown that 57% of men negotiate their very first salary out of school, whereas only 7% of women do so, which creates an inequity from the very first step in our careers.

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Go back to previous projects and look at the areas where you excelled to help create a factual business case to present.

B Quadrant: Planning out a decision tree to help create a game plan for each of the scenarios that could unfold.

C Quadrant: Supporting others, share your story to help everyone see where you are coming from and why you feel this way.

D Quadrant: Envisioning the conversation and what a successful outcome would feel like.

Power Gap 4: Isolating from influential support

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I hate networking and connecting with strangers or even the idea of going about finding a mentor or sponsor. It’s so awkward and uncomfortable.” Many professional women – both introverted and extroverted alike – can’t stand to network and feel it’s fake, awkward and uncomfortable. 

But without building a powerful support community that can help you grow, and without expanding your online and in-person network of colleagues and powerful supporters and ambassadors who can help you grow, you’ll limit your access to exciting new opportunities and roles.

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Listing individuals that you should know within your industry.

B Quadrant: Create a mission statement and make a plan for yourself.

C Quadrant: Name influential people you might tend to avoid and talk through how they could help you.

D Quadrant: Generate your curiosity and envision what it could do for you.

Power Gap 5: Acquiescing instead of saying “STOP!” to mistreatment

People with this gap often tell themselves: “It’s so unfair what I’m going through and seeing around me, but I can’t challenge it.” Most of us who’ve ever worked in an organisation for any amount of time have personally witnessed behaviour that made us deeply uncomfortable or afraid, and we went home that night struggling with how best to handle it.

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Look at your stress profile, does it impede you from speaking up?

B Quadrant: As a leader, are you doing all you can to keep the organisation safe for others? This could be done through updating company policies.

C Quadrant: Take notice of what behaviours are being displayed in the organisation that don’t align with your values.

D Quadrant: Future framing – where are you now and where do you want to be?

Power Gap 6: Losing sight of your thrilling dream

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I have no idea what would make me happier or how I would even get there.” Many professional women know what they DON’T want in their jobs and careers but can’t name what they do want. That’s a challenge that will keep you trapped in an unhappy career or situation. 

Do you find it hard to identify what you long to do? Or have you lost sight of a thrilling dream or vision you once had for your career that now feels out of reach?

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Research and KPI’s. What would success look like to you?

B Quadrant: Planning, what actions would it take to achieve your goal.

C Quadrant: Mentor to help keep you on track, create a good support group.

D Quadrant: Journaling and asking the big question: Why?

Power Gap 7: Allowing the past to continue to affect you

People with this gap often tell themselves: “I’m affected by what’s happened to me and I can’t get over it.” This final power gap is very potent and keeps many professional women from moving forward to a happier career. They’re demoralised, confused and upset by what’s happened to them in the past and it’s affecting them today.  

This includes pain or emotional challenges that emerged from childhood as well as present issues such as working with a toxic or narcissistic manager who’s crushed their self-esteem, or being treated in a way that makes them deeply question themselves. It also includes failing at a project or endeavour that leaves them feeling ashamed, insecure, and “less than.”

How Whole Brain® Thinking can help:

A Quadrant: Identifying your challenges.

B Quadrant: What practical resources do you need to help you?

C Quadrant: Communicating with a friend, mentor, or therapist to help work through some of your issues.

D Quadrant: Looking at the bigger picture of healing, and what that future would look like?

Have you personally had to deal with any of these power gaps throughout your career? These 7 Power Gaps prevent 98% of professional women from achieving their highest potential in their careers and as leaders who make a positive difference. 75% are hindered by three or more gaps.

Whole Brain® Thinking insights help spark self-awareness, create practical action, and nurture lasting change necessary to bridge these power gaps.

If you’d like a useful resource, download the 7 Power Gaps infographic here.

If you want to learn more about how Whole Brain® Thinking and the HBDI® can help you and your organisation, have a look at how it works here or get in touch and we’ll help you find the right solution.

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