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A Rising Female Leader

Shabana, an upcoming leader in a growing organisation, had made fantastic progress in her role as a senior manager. She and her team were achieving excellence, and she was known as an expert in her field.


An opportunity was identified by Shabana’s line manager and director, Dilshad. Dilshad saw potential in Shabana and wanted to prepare her for a director role. Shabana, a working mum with three under 5s, had a difficult choice; she wanted to seize the opportunity but did not want to miss time with her children in their early years.  

Shabana and Dilshad invited The Leadership Coaches leadership coach Zoé Lewis to work with Shabana.  

Co-Creating The Contract

Shabana, Dilshad, and Zoe met before the coaching, twice during the coaching journey and a final time. They agreed on expectations, roles, responsibilities, and objectives for the coaching.   

During the one-to-one coaching sessions, Shabana was able to share her experiences and emotions confidentially with Zoé and safely explore how she could overcome challenges and make progress towards her objectives.  

Key Focus Areas  

During the coaching, Shabana addressed many challenges, especially those affecting women rising to leadership:  

  • Self-belief and working through imposter syndrome  

  • Believing strong women do it all themselves – knowing that it’s a strength to work with others and not have all the answers herself.  

  • Being a mum to her children and finding ways to switch off from work to enjoy the time with her family  

  • Owning her seat at the leadership table – feeling that she belonged at the table, had value to add and could speak and listen in the measure required of the situation.  

  • Having a fear of stepping out of the safety zone of being the expert and moving into strategic leadership. 

  • Presenting ideas to the board and receiving incredible feedback on presence, articulation, and credibility. 

Looking Back On The Journey  

Looking back on the journey, Shabana described it as feeling like “two steps forward and one step back”, acknowledging that much of the time when progress was made, there was another challenge waiting to send her back to feeling like she hadn’t made much progress at all. At the end of the coaching journey, she reflected, “I can now see the big difference when I look back at the whole experience, and I am ready to learn in the role of director. Even though it still feels a little daunting, I can see how my confidence has grown and that I can be visible with others in the leadership team, I can own my role and am credible among my peers.”

Dilshad reflected that Shabana’s team was now the highest functioning team in their area and that her leadership presence and credibility had grown substantially during this time. He acknowledged her transition and growing ability to let go of the detail, focus on strategic direction, and enable her team to take ownership and accountability whilst maintaining strong relationships.  

What Next?  

Shabana is excitedly heading off on maternity leave with her fourth child and feels in a prime position for promotion upon her return. Dilshad welcomes seeing Shabana applying for Director roles and is delighted to see more women in leadership role modelling that women can indeed have it all. 

*Shabana and Dilshad: names have been changed for confidentiality purposes. 

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