The Courageous Truth about Women and Time Management

A Blog Post by Brian Miller

I didn’t pursue it, but I find myself coaching several excellent women leaders. I’d be thrilled to coach even more. In my experience, women leaders have an advantage because they don’t allow any pretense about performance. Where a man may want to project with me that he has most everything under control, women leaders tend to appreciate that they have someone to discuss the more difficult issues. My expectation is that these women will an easier time rising through the ranks because they are learning to expand their leadership capacity through coaching.

In the past few months, I’ve had women leaders share this coaching topic with me: I need to be more productive. It’s become what we call a Yellow Flag word. In soccer, the yellow flag comes out when there is a caution. When I hear “more productive,” I’m listening very closely for deeper issues.

In particular with the women I coach, “more productive” has meant two things.

  1. There is a brand new initiative I want to start without letting go of anything else.
  2. There are some family issues, and I’m struggling because I don’t have any margin with my schedule.

I’ve written some very encouraging words about women leaders, but one area of struggle is self-identity. In American culture, they often have trouble seeing themselves as leaders, especially leaders on the rise. Therefore, they insist on turning in almost perfect performances so that they appear at least equal with their male colleagues.

To a fault, I want to honor the agenda of my female clients because frankly, they almost always work harder than my male clients. I want them to find their success. However, I would be doing them a disservice if I didn’t make the observation that though they rarely say it, they would like more margin, and not feel as constantly pressed.

One of my favorite questions for creating awareness in my clients is:

What are you willing to give up to make this happen?

The Best 15 Minute Coaching Session Ever

the best 15 minute coaching session everWe train coaches at Coach Approach Ministries. And one thing that sets us apart is that when you train with us, you will do a lot of coaching. There are lots of ways to learn coaching, but perhaps the best way is to coach in front of others and get immediate feedback. When we do this, we always add one element that always makes it much harder. We limit the amount of time you have, anywhere from ten minutes to twenty.

I don’t think I know one coach who prefers a fifteen minute session to a sixty minute session. There is something about the clock that makes us nervous. Fifteen minutes just isn’t enough time to establish a coaching relationship, discover an actionable topic, deeply explore the possibilities, design appropriate and action, and build in accountability. Too short!

Let me give you five advantages to short coaching sessions.

  1. You can concentrate on the person.
  2. You can clarify their desire.
  3. Use most powerful questions you have.
  4. You don’t have to stick the landing.
  5. Give the person permission to act.

You Can Concentrate on the Person

I don’t know anyone who can be fully present for an entire hour. At some point, you will lose focus and fade into another thought. But fifteen minutes is a nice challenge. Listen to every word your client says. Listen to how they say it. Listen for any pain behind it. Listen to when the joy releases. Listen to their word choices. Listen for where they get stuck. You won’t create a solution. You will hear it.

It is fair to say that no one has given them a full fifteen minutes of full presence in a long time. You will bring hope and healing just by making yourself available. Turn up your curiosity about what makes this person tick. Coach the person, not the problem.

Three Coaching Benefits Worth Every Penny

If you’re asking, why should I get a coach?  How can it be worth the money?  You’re not the only one.  I ask myself that question from time to time.  And thankfully, I am always happy with the answer.

There are three areas that always seem to clear up when we begin to coach.

  • Clarity of thinking
  • Priorities
  • Willingness to overcome fears or awkwardness

I’ll write a post on each of these but let me give some brief points on each one.

Clarity of Thinking

Most people have fuzzy thinking.  They don’t see the future clearly, and they see the steps to get their even fuzzier.  Coaching clarifies what we are trying to accomplish.

  • We often have unrealistic expectations.
  • We often haven’t made clear to others around us what we are hoping to accomplish.
  • We often haven’t communicated to others what we expect of them.
  • We haven’t thought through first steps to get to where we want to go.

Priorities

Once we figure out what we want to accomplish, we realize we are doing a ton of tasks that don’t move us toward where we want to go.  And then we find out, we can’t stop doing them!  Somebody expects us to do them.  The first step to take is to set aside a chunk of time one or two mornings a week to concentrate on what you want to do.

You should set aside everything else.  Turn off email.  Turn off your phone if you can.  People can do without contacting you for two hours.  I’ve started doing this with writing sermons and blog posts.

Overcoming Fear or Awkwardness

We aren’t always aware of our fears.  Sometimes we are afraid to step forward because it will make others feel awkward.  Many people have a fear of starting for fear they will fail to accomplish the task.  Coaching fills the person with encouragement and celebrates all forward movement.  Fear can overshadow the fact that you are making progress.  You can feel like a failure even you are almost to the finish line.

Which of these three are holding you back?  If you could set aside one morning per week, what would you love to work on?