Mark Bateman, Author at WeQual

Author: Mark Bateman


Is Ambition a Dirty Word?

Is Ambition a Dirty Word?

The VP of a large UK listed company lowered her eyes and whispered, “I want to be the CEO of this company”. It was as if just speaking her ambition out loud was wrong. 

One of the things I’ve learned from working with ambitious women, is that the very word ‘ambitious’ can cause a negative reaction. Why? Because so many within our culture believe that a woman should NOT be ambitious. It’s perceived as too … masculine. 

It’s a good example of the double standards we expect from women. The evidence shows the path to the top is harder for a woman than a man. As Angela Qu (former Chief Procurement Officer at Lufthansa) said at our recent Think Tank on Gender Equality, “Men are promoted on potential, women on achievements”

As men and women, we need to celebrate and champion ambition regardless of gender. Leadership teams which are more diverse do better on every score that matters. They become better places to work, stronger financially, and, critically, more concerned with the wider environment, social and governance (ESG) issues. With everything happening in the world right now – surely we need more of that? 

We need ambitious women as much as we need ambitious men. It’s time to applaud, not chastise, every ambitious woman – and give her all the support we can to rise within our organisations. 

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do.”  Steve Jobs.

As for the VP I mentioned above? I applauded her, as I do every woman who tells me they want to be CEO. Within most of our cultures – it takes courage to not only want it, but to verbalise it. 

  • ambition is good, but being visible with ambition is better 

If you are already a member, we invite you to join us for our next executive coaching event, Shifting Your Mindset for Ambitious Results, taking place on 30 November. At this event we ask you to stop thinking about what society wants from you and to stop apologising for being ambitious. This is a time to focus on what it is that you want and what difference you want to make. 

If you are an ambitious woman leader then join us today. WeQual Global is a private, global network for women executive leaders to connect, share best practice, and learn from one another. Find out more here.

Have you been judged harshly for being ambitious? Maybe you’ve had great sponsors who have supported your ambition? Maybe you disagree with the male/female perspective. Leave your comments below.

Should I stay or should I go?

Should I stay or should I go?

One of the most common questions we get asked is “Should I stay or should I go?”

Do you risk losing the goodwill and relationships you’ve built over years? What if you make a wrong move and it doesn’t work out? How do you decide?

Women tend to stay in companies longer than their male counterparts (though with ‘The Great Resignation’ women are leaving faster than ever before).

Career mobility – the ability to change roles whilst being promoted internally – is a key strategy to support women in their rise to the top. But what if your route is blocked? Or you recognise that you are growing stale and frustrated? How do you decide what to do next?

Here are three questions to think about before making a decision.

1) Are you trying to escape a problem that will follow you?

Deirdre Mahlan, on her last day before retirement as President of Diageo North America, told us about a time when she was tempted with a new role. Her mentor challenged her to fix where she was first, before moving. She was honest with her manager and it resulted in a broader, more challenging role. When she did finally move, it was for the right reasons.

2) Are you clear as to what you want next?

The key here is knowing your personal purpose and desired legacy (impact). 80% of those we speak with are unclear. To get clear – identify your perfect next role. Write down your desired job title, job role, the types of problems you want to solve, the culture (vision, mission, people, values), location and package.

3) If you are tempted by a role – does it align with what you want?

Take the time to do your research and be honest with yourself about the fit. Check in with mentors, or with some leaders who already work (or have worked) within that organisation.

WeQual Global members will be meeting to engage in honest conversation with other women leaders in a similar position: The Great Resignation

Not a menber? Join today* > WeQual Global Membership

* All new members who join in June 2022 will be entered into a draw for a package of three complimentary Executive Coaching sessions worth £3,000 / $3,700.

The H.A.P.P.Y System: 5 Steps to Picking the Best Executive Coach for you

You’ve decided to get some help from an Executive Coach. That’s great news because all the evidence shows that working with a good Executive Coach can positively transform your leadership effectiveness and results. But what makes a good Executive Coach? And how do you find a coach that is a good fit for you?

These are important questions to answer. But as coaching is an unregulated industry it can be difficult to identify the right coach for you.

Let me guide you through five critical components to picking the right Executive Coach for you.


Think Happy

When looking for a good Executive Coach – it’s best to think H.A.P.P.Y. 

Because a good Executive Coach will have these five characteristics:

H  | History – The right experience and background

A  | Ability – Robust qualifications, expertise and ethics

P  | Presence – Are they self aware, intuitive, dedicated to my success?

P  | Personality – Are they credible, do they inspire me?

Y  | You – It’s about you and not them

1 – History

The first thing you should look for is a history of success. 

Because we all judge success differently, look for the type of previous experience that is relevant to you and your circumstances.

For example, if you are a small business owner a coach who has helped SMEs to grow in the past might be more suitable. But if you are an executive leader in a large business, you are more likely to benefit from a proven qualified Executive Coach who can work with  you/your team to further develop leadership effectiveness.

Ask to see a coach’s CV or profile. Check out their digital footprint. Are there client testimonials online, or even video testimonials with more in-depth information.

Questions to ask

  • What is it about your history that makes you the ideal Executive Coach for me? 
  • How does your history make you a good coach for our organisation?
2 – Ability

It takes more than just experience to make the grade as a good Executive Coach. It doesn’t necessarily follow that someone who has ‘been there, done that and bought the T-shirt’ will make a good coach. You need someone with significant personal development and training.

In fact, well-respected figures in the coaching world, like Sir Roger Whitmore, for example, argue that being an ‘expert’ in a particular sector can even hinder a coach’s effectiveness. 

Coaching is not telling someone how to do something better. Rather, it is a transformational process on the basis that you are the expert in your field. A good coach will facilitate increased self-awareness, provide new perspectives and help implement powerful new ways of ‘being’. Working with a good coach can transform both your professional and personal life.

Unless an executive coach has invested heavily in their own personal and professional development they won’t have the skill, ethics, or the empirically-based research-backed approach that you require. 

Postgraduate qualifications are necessary because Executive Coaches work at a deep transformational level with talented business leaders. They need to know that they are helping, and not causing harm.

Questions to ask

  • What personal development have you completed to make you a better coach? 
  • What is your underlying philosophy as an Executive Coach?
3 – Personality

We all need someone to help us along our journey. Someone who asks the right questions; engages us without judgment; helps us understand ourselves better. Someone who challenges our thinking. 

These traits are largely based on a person’s personality and character. And they are traits that a good Executive Coach should have. 

Unfortunately (or fortunately, actually) Executive Coaches do not have tightly defined personality types. However, an important consideration is a coach’s natural inclination towards others. Good coaches are driven by a desire to improve and develop. They have a strong desire to help people, teams, or organisations to perform at their most genuine, authentic, best.

Good coaches bring powerful insight: a highly developed intuition is often a prerequisite. Skillfully they are  able to quickly pick up on hidden issues, ask powerful questions and in the process bring welcome new perspectives. And they should be comfortable challenging and encouraging you from your very first conversation.

Questions to ask

  • Is this coach interested in me? 
  • Did they surprise me with the power of their questions? 
  • Would I want to work with this coach?
4 – Presence

Executives are time-poor. When contemplating a coaching programme, they need to make an instant decision as to whether they are willing to invest the time and energy to work with a particular coach.

If an Executive Coach doesn’t have the presence or gravitas to create the opening required, then the first coaching session is likely to be over before it starts. 

A coach’s gravitas and approach will cause the busy executive to pause, and provide an opportunity for the skilful coach to engage at a meaningful level quickly.

Questions to ask

  • Would I like to spend longer with this coach? 
  • Are they making me think?
5 – You

All the above said, the most important part of the process of choosing a coach is you.

A good Executive Coach will ensure sessions are focused on your agenda, moving you towards agreed goals. Good coaches challenge whilst steering clear of judging or pushing their idea of the ‘right way’ to do something. 

They apply organisational research and proven models with skill. They recognise when interpersonal dynamics derail performance. They understand how psychological factors drive improved effectiveness.

Being emotionally intelligent and self-aware is a key requisite of a good coach. If you feel you are not connecting with your coach, or worse, are competing then it suggests there is not a good fit.

Question to ask

  • Was the session focused on me, or them?
  • Did I feel I was competing for time, or was I given the space to explore my own thoughts and feelings?



History, Ability, Personality, Presence and You. Getting those right ingredients makes for a transformational coaching experience, dedicated to your agenda. The results will be self evident as you transform your own leadership/organisational development, performance and effectiveness.


So, if you find picking the right Executive Coach stressful, don’t worry, be H.A.P.P.Y.!

Mark Bateman is the CEO of WeQual Consulting. If you are looking for proven Executive Coaches for your own development, or for that of your organisation, get in touch at

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