COACHING WOMEN IN CONSTRUCTION SO THEY ‘DO THE RIGHT THING’

This blog reflects on a group exercise I facilitated with women in construction, where we sought to better understand the power of coaching to develop mindsets, networks and skills; and in doing so to enable them to consistently do the right thing.

The leadership challenge lies in “doing the right thing”, not in just doing things right.

In order to consistently do the right thing, and to do so authentically, women in construction want to proactively take control of their destiny. This requires them to create conditions that enable them to be their best. The construction industry is a tough industry with an image problem but one that increasingly recognises  success is “all about people.” That being said, claimed values of inclusion are not consistently practiced and “middle aged white guys” continue to hold the power.

Rather than waiting for employers or the “system” to create conditions where they can thrive, women in construction need to draw on their own agency to create change. To do so demands that they invest in their own development – and this is where coaching has a role to play.

The power of coaching lies in meeting people’s fundamental human need to be truly heard

Coaching is a helping conversation where each partner holds equal power. The relationship is underpinned by an assumption that the client has the self-efficacy to solve their own challenges. The coach is a thought-partner who listens deeply and with unconditional positive regard for the client. In doing so, the coach creates a safe space and holds up a mirror to the client. This helps them to reflect deeply, find their voice, surface their assumptions, think through how to behave in different scenarios, and practice new behaviours.

Coaching conversations become the safe space for women in construction to:

  • Pause from their habitual busyness; to move away from a state of reactivity and to reflect on themselves and their situation.
  • Consider whether there is alignment between their personal and organisational goals; and where there is not to set a course for change.
  • Think and prepare for presentations, strategic change, and role transitions; so that they can work intentionally and perform at their peak.
  • Work with their shadows and the unintended consequences of their strengths.

The power of coaching is elusive, but it is powerful

In industries where people are constantly on the go; where they are trained and rewarded for fixing problems quickly and efficiently; they have little time and few incentives to slow down, take a deep breath and reflect. Coaching is the pause button. And it is in the pause that we re-discover ourselves and generate the energy for self-development.

In my next blog post I will be explore how the coaching process enhances the Engineering Mindset that values solving problems, and thus should be more widely valued in the construction industry.

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