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How Synergies Between Coaching And Mentoring Are Contributing To The Success Of Women-Only Leadership Development Programs

Dr. Zoran M Pavlovic is a Board Certified Psychiatrist, a Certified Rational Emotional Behavioral (REBT) Psychotherapist by the Albert Ellis Institute in New York, a Certified Executive Coach by the Henley Business School Coaches Center, University of Reading and Associate Certified Coach (ACC) By the International Coaching Federation (ICF). He is a Fellow at the Institute of Coaching (IOC), a McLean Affiliate of Harvard Medical School, and a former member of the Forbes Coaches Council. He is a Columnist for Project Managers at Clinical Researcher, Official Journal of the Association of Clinical Research Professionals (ACRP). He occasionally writes for Life Science Leader Magazine on Leadership in Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Industry.

Executive Contributor Dr. Zoran M Pavlovic

In today's dynamic corporate landscape, leadership development programs are indispensable for fostering future leaders. While coaching has been the cornerstone of many development initiatives, it alone may not suffice, particularly for women leaders. This article explores why mentoring, alongside coaching, is essential in women-only leadership development programs, emphasizing the value of industry-specific experience in coaches and mentors

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The importance of mentoring in leadership development

Mentoring goes beyond the immediate objectives of coaching, which primarily focuses on enhancing specific skills or achieving particular goals. Mentoring fosters long-term personal and professional growth, providing mentees with the wisdom and experience of seasoned professionals. For women leaders, mentoring offers unique benefits:

  1. Role Modeling: Mentors serve as role models, demonstrating effective leadership and navigating career challenges, especially in male-dominated industries.

  2. Emotional Support: Mentors provide a support system, helping women leaders cope with workplace stress and build resilience.

  3. Network Expansion: Mentoring helps women expand their professional networks, which is crucial for career advancement.

  4. Confidence Building: Regular interactions with mentors boost self-confidence, encouraging women to take on leadership roles.

1. Why women leaders benefit more from mentoring than men

  • Addressing Unique Challenges: Women in leadership often face unique challenges that their male counterparts might not encounter, such as gender bias, work-life balance, and underrepresentation in higher management. Mentors who have navigated these challenges can provide specific guidance and strategies to overcome them.

  • Creating Safe Spaces: Women leaders benefit from mentoring relationships that create safe spaces to discuss their experiences and challenges without fear of judgment. This psychological safety fosters open dialogue and honest feedback, which is essential for growth.

  • Building Confidence in Male-Dominated Fields: Mentorship can help women build confidence in industries where they are underrepresented. Mentors can offer encouragement and reassurance, assisting the women in asserting themselves and taking on leadership roles.

  • Providing Role Models: Having successful female role models is particularly important for aspiring women leaders. Mentors can serve as these role models, showing that it is possible to succeed and excel in leadership positions.

Insights from leading consultancies

In its Women in the Workplace report, McKinsey & Company highlights that mentorship and sponsorship significantly impact women's career progression. They found that women with sponsors are more likely to be promoted and have access to high-visibility projects, underscoring the need for mentoring in leadership programs.

Deloitte emphasizes that mentoring and sponsorship are critical for creating an inclusive culture that nurtures diverse leadership. Their research indicates that women who receive mentoring are more likely to stay with their organizations and aspire to leadership roles.

Accenture's "Getting to Equal" research shows that mentorship programs increase job satisfaction and career progression for women. They advocate for structured mentoring programs as part of leadership development to ensure women receive the guidance and support they need.

PwC also supports the integration of mentoring in leadership development. Their "Women in Work" report suggests that mentoring helps bridge the confidence gap and prepares women for leadership by providing insights into organizational politics and strategies.

2. The synergy of coaching and mentoring

Combining coaching and mentoring creates a comprehensive development framework that addresses both immediate and long-term goals. Here’s how these synergies play out:

  • Skill Development and Career Growth: Coaching focuses on skill development and achieving specific objectives while mentoring addresses broader career growth. Together, they ensure that women leaders are not only competent but also prepared for future challenges.

  • Personal and Professional Support: Coaching often centers on professional development, whereas mentoring includes personal support, helping women leaders navigate both career and life challenges.

  • Continuous Feedback and Reflection: Coaching provides constant feedback on performance, while mentoring encourages reflection on experiences and learning. This dual approach fosters a deeper understanding and continuous improvement.

  • Networking and Opportunities: Mentors can introduce mentees to valuable networks and opportunities, while coaches help them develop the skills needed to capitalize on these opportunities.

3. Benefits of mentors with coaching and industry expertise

  • Relevance and Practicality: Coaches with industry-specific experience understand the unique challenges and opportunities within that sector. Their guidance is more relevant and practical, ensuring that the mentee receives actionable advice.

  • Credibility and Trust: Industry-experienced coaches command tremendous respect and trust, making it easier to build rapport with mentees. This trust is crucial for an effective mentoring relationship.

  • Cost-Effectiveness: Engaging a coach who also acts as a mentor is more cost-effective than hiring separate individuals for coaching and mentoring. This integrated approach reduces costs and ensures consistency in guidance and support.

  • Holistic Development: A coach with mentoring capabilities can provide holistic development, addressing both immediate skill gaps and long-term career goals. This comprehensive approach leads to more effective and sustained leadership development.

  • Network Access and Career Advancement: Coaches with industry experience can leverage their networks to provide mentees with valuable connections and career advancement opportunities. This dual role maximizes the benefits of both coaching and mentoring.

The imminent need for gender-specific leadership development programs

Significant differences between men’s and women’s leadership development needs

  • Mindsets and Learning Styles: Men and women often have different mindsets and learning styles. Women may prefer collaborative and experiential learning methods, while men might lean towards competitive and individualistic approaches.

  • Knowledge Transfer: Women may benefit more from relational knowledge transfer, where learning is contextualized within their experiences, compared to men, who might favor more straightforward, factual exchanges.

  • Competency Strengths: Women typically excel in emotional intelligence, empathy, and collaborative skills, which are crucial for modern leadership. Leadership programs must leverage these strengths to develop well-rounded leaders.

  • Opportunities for Development: Women often face fewer opportunities for development due to systemic barriers, such as gender discrimination and lack of access to senior management. Mentoring can bridge this gap by providing tailored guidance and support.

  • Interactions with Senior Management: Women generally interact with senior management fewer times, limiting their exposure to strategic decision-making processes. Mentors can facilitate these interactions, offering insights and opening doors to higher-level engagements.

  • Gender Discrimination: Women face gender-based challenges that men do not, including bias and discrimination. Mentoring provides a platform to address these issues and develop strategies to overcome them.

  • Lower Perception of Personal Achievements: Women often have a lower perception of their achievements and capabilities. Mentors can help reframe these perceptions, boosting confidence and encouraging women to recognize and celebrate their successes.

  • Lower Self-Confidence: Women generally report lower self-confidence compared to men, which can hinder their career progression. Mentoring provides the encouragement and affirmation needed to build and maintain self-confidence.

Different needs in work-life integration

  • Balancing Responsibilities: Women often juggle multiple roles, balancing career and family responsibilities. Mentoring can provide strategies for effective time management and achieving work-life integration.

  • Flexible Work Arrangements: Women may benefit from flexible work arrangements to manage their diverse responsibilities. Mentors can advocate for and guide mentees in negotiating such arrangements.

Fewer opportunities for career development

  • Access to Development Programs: Women may have less access to career development programs. Mentors can help identify and secure these opportunities, ensuring women receive the training and development they need.

  • Promotion and Advancement: Women often experience slower career progression. Mentors can guide navigating organizational politics and promotion strategies.

Well-being coaching and mentoring interventions

  • Addressing Stress and Burnout: Women leaders may experience higher levels of stress and burnout. Well-being coaching and mentoring can offer support and strategies for maintaining mental and physical health.

  • Workplace Wellness Programs: Tailored wellness programs can address the specific needs of women leaders and promote a healthy work-life balance.

Lower salaries

  • Negotiating Salaries: Women often earn less than their male counterparts. Mentors can guide salary negotiation, helping women to advocate for fair compensation.

  • Equal Pay Advocacy: Mentors can support and guide women in advocating for equal pay within their organizations, promoting fairness and equity.


In conclusion, mentoring is a crucial component of women-only leadership development programs. Insights from leading consultancies like McKinsey, Deloitte, Accenture, and PwC underscore the profound impact of mentoring on women's career advancement. When combined with coaching and led by industry-experienced professionals, these programs can significantly enhance the leadership potential of women, driving both personal and organizational success.

Integrating mentoring with coaching creates a powerful, holistic development approach essential for cultivating the next generation of women leaders. As organizations strive for greater diversity and inclusion in leadership, the dual strategy of coaching and mentoring, supported by industry-specific expertise, will prove to be the gold standard in leadership development programs.

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Dr. Zoran M Pavlovic, Executive Coach

Dr. Zoran M Pavlovic is a Board Certified Psychiatrist, a Certified Rational Emotional Behavioral (REBT) Psychotherapist by the Albert Ellis Institute in New York, a Certified Coach by the Henley Business School Coaches Center, University of Reading and holds ACC Credential by the International Coaching Federation (ICF). Dr. Pavlovic has been a Buddhist meditation practitioner for almost 20 years. In 2017, he completed the Mindfulness Tools Course at the Center for Mindfulness at the University of Massachusetts in the United States. Dr. Pavlovic is a goal-driven, strategically minded, and enthusiastic coaching professional with vast knowledge in Coaching Neuroscience and a high level of flexibility in working with corporate and individual coaching clients seeking personal development solutions.





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