How to Keep Women Executives in their Roles

KarenBusiness success, Coaching, Company Culture, Leadership


We collectively are starved for it (’cause guess what? Zoom isn’t enough…).

And women executives – despite being surrounded by people much of the day most days – are more starved than most.

Starved for the safe spaces to process, emote, solve, feel and reflect in community.

Starved for the experience of feeling they can be themselves, and starved for the experience of being really seen.

And starved for confirmation that they’re not alone in feeling exhausted, frustrated, burned out, gaslit and overwhelmed.

Rumeet Billan, Ph.D. of Women of Influence summarized the current issue with women in the workplace not as a war to attract talent, but as a war to RETAIN talent (not that I love the “war” metaphor, but you get the idea). And we know from the McKinsey & Company / Lean In research released last fall that women executives are leaving their roles in disturbing numbers.

My own research says that most women actually like their jobs and their teams. They’re frustrated and exhausted by excessive demands on results that ignore the humans that have to deliver those results. They’re frustrated at the politics, the game-playing, the inefficient use of time and the difficulty in knowing who to trust. And they’re exhausted by the multiple demands on them across all aspects of their lives that feel relentless and unsolvable.

Until and unless much changes about company culture there’s one way you can support your women executives such that there’s a better chance they’ll figure out how to stay.

Get them a coach.

This isn’t a “hire us” promo (although we’d be delighted if you do, of course). This is a “get them any coach who’s trained, experienced and qualified to support senior level executives through complex challenges” recommendation.

Absent strong mentorship, company-sponsored/initiated wellness initiatives, flexible work policies and due diligence around equitable hiring and compensation, a one-on-one relationship with a coach can make all the difference to a woman executive who’s struggling to solve for her many challenges, concerns and frustrations. A coach can help the woman feel heard, can affirm their experiences as reasonable, and support their ability to build skills and take actions to advocate for their own needs and success.

Because here’s the thing. This whole “work isn’t working for women” thing has two participants in it. And while I’m going to be tirelessly working with leaders to improve the world of work for everyone, the individuals have their own roles to play.

So if you want your women leaders to stick around, offer them the opportunity to work with a coach.

Women – before you make a big decision rooted in frustration and overwhelm, ask for the opportunity to work with a coach.

It’s not the permanent solution, but it can start to turn the tide. Because – and here’s my biggest fear – if the majority of women decide that they cannot function in the conventional organizations and workplaces such that they leave – what impetus for change will remain?

Of course, if you’d like to talk about how our coaches can help, please get in touch. And even if you’d just like some assistance in knowing what to look for when it comes to finding a coach, we’re happy to chat.