Great leadership skills will help to get you through your divorce. 

I know you are thinking: What has leadership got to do with getting divorced?  

Spending some time with an executive coach might help you, and your organisation, in ways that you have not thought about.  

One of my favourite quotes from the book “Dare to lead” by Brené Brown, is this: 

“In tough conversations, hard meetings, and emotionally charged decision making, leaders need the grounded confidence to stay tethered to their values, respond rather than react emotionally, and operate from self-awareness, not self-protection.”

If you substitute the word “leader” for “professional women, who are getting divorced,” the parallels are uncanny, and many family lawyers would agree with the sentiment.

In the UK, 1/3 marriages end in divorce and the average age of women is 43.9.

Someone on your team is going through a divorce.

It does not matter who you are, if your relationship is not going well at home then it will have an impact on your performance at work. We have all experienced what the aftermath of a disagreement feels like. Multiply it tenfold and you have scratched the surface of what a divorce can do. It can be exceedingly difficult to leave complex emotions at home and flip a switch so that you can focus on work (or anything else for that matter).  

Divorce can rock your sense of who you are, and your emotional backpack can hook you into unhelpful cycles of thinking. It can feel hard to move forwards when you are stuck in the middle of overwhelm.  

In her book “Dare to Lead,” Brené Brown discusses the skills required to be daring leaders. One of the key messages is that to lead with courage, leaders need to realise that vulnerability is not a weakness. 

She defines vulnerability as “the emotion that we experience during times of uncertainty, risk, and emotional exposure…It’s having the courage to show up when you can’t control the outcome.” 

That is another big tick in the box for divorce.

Showing up with vulnerability is hard at the best of times and even harder to do it when you are stressed. 

I am an executive coach, who helps professional women navigate their divorce. It is increasingly obvious that the skills, which women need when they are going through a divorce, overlap with the skills required for great leadership.

Leaders are often offered executive coaching to improve performance both at a personal and organisational level. A coaching style of leadership is strongly associated with organisational development.

Many organisations see the value of executive coaching to “sharpen the leadership skills of high-potential individuals.” Organisations are also increasingly stating that wellbeing and mental health are their priorities. McKinsey has reported that employee mental health is a major concern for employers. However, 70% of employees reported difficulty in accessing counselling or similar services.  

The McKinsey report states that: 

“A majority of employers (about 70 percent) report they plan to invest in mental health resources by starting, continuing, or expanding benefits in 2021. The most common reasons reported for expanding support are to promote employee productivity, increase satisfaction, and attract/compete for talent.”

The Deloitte women@work 2022 report, confirms a worrying trend that the Great Resignation is set to continue. The survey reported that: 

“Women are more likely to be looking for a new role than they were a year ago, and burnout is the top driving factor: nearly 40% of women actively looking for a new employer cited it as the main reason. Over half of women want to leave their employer in the next two years, and only 10% plan to stay with their current employer for more than five years.”

The PWC 25th annual CEO report  highlights the concerns of CEOs and Elona Mortimer-Zhika, CEO of IRIS Software Group, is quoted as saying: 

“You can’t have any conversation now without talking about ESG, net zero and equality. I get interviewed about it by new recruits. People expect this. They want to work for companies that are kind, that are giving back, that are sustainable.”

Organisations can no longer afford to pay lip service to these issues. It would be better not to lose the talent in the first place. It is far more expensive to recruit rather than retain talented women. 

What can that mean for professional women who are getting divorced? 


  1. You already have some great leadership skills in your toolbox. You can use these transferrable skills in your divorce right now. 
  • Communication skills  
  • Problem solving skills 
  • Time management 
  • Goal setting 
  • If you are feeling unsure or overwhelmed, a coach will be able to help you discover and transfer your skills. You may need some help to put down your emotional backpack so that you can function at your best. 


    2. Ask for help.  

  • You may not know about the support services which are available to you. Many organisations have Employee Assistance Packages.  


    3. As your employer about the possibility of coaching.  

  • A good coach will help you to get from the “hot mess,” that you are in now, to the person you want to be.   


    4. Explain the benefits of coaching to your employer.  

  • They will be interested to know how it will benefit their organisation. Your leadership skills will be enhanced, and the ripple effects will be felt throughout your department and organisation. 



If you are an HR executive or CEO of an organisation

Please put your ideas and promises into action. The ROI for your organisation and savings on recruitment fees will make the investment in your current female talent worthwhile.