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Title: How to coach a woman: a practitioner’s manual,Author: Lynette Allen and Meg Reid,Publisher: Crown House PublishingPrice: £29.50ISBN: 978-1845906764
Initially I was a little anxious that the emphasis on gender differences in this book might cloak the fact that each individual who comes for coaching is just that, and deserves to be treated as an individual. However, anyone following the advice about training and developing themselves as a coach would soon understand that, and therefore pick up how they might use the sensible suggestions about working with women to best effect.
On the front cover, the book is described as, “a refreshingly different guide to becoming an ethical and responsible coach” – and it’s an apt description. Simply written in plain English, it deals with the basic steps a coach should make, introduces a number of tools and techniques (without labelling them unhelpfully) and works on developing coaching skills in those who want to follow this as a career. There is passing reference to managers who use coaching as a style, but this is more a manual (with helpful CD containing tools and forms which a novice coach will find the basis for business) for those training as coaches.
The premise of the authors is that the genders are different, and require different approaches in coaching. They cite six key principles to coaching a woman. Namely: women want to feel their relationship is unique; they learn best through discussion, and have highly developed verbal skills; have the ability to fix several problems at the same time, even when talking about only one; are emotionally literate, and willing to explore and express emotions; are able to use visualisation very effectively; and are more self-critical.
They identify ten popular female niches where coaches could specialise, at work, with particular topics and are profiles. The assertions of gender difference aren’t oppressively backed with research, although there are references to work done by Spender, Archer, Alexander and others, and a 2008 survey. The focus of the book is on coaching and they reinforce TGROW as a tool and add their own acronym FEMALE. In a chapter about questions, they concentrate on how questions can best appeal to a woman – stating that women being better at identifying “ intention, atmosphere, ulterior motives and quick eye movements….”. In the one on the power of being heard, they highlight their survey demonstrating how important it is to a woman to be listened to. Low self-esteem has its own chapter, and the wheel of life, values, beliefs and emotions exercises are used with women in mind. The last chapter gives advice about qualifications and what to look for in a training provider.
Kate Pinder is an established national coach and development specialist and currently an associate with SOLACE and other national organisations.