Direct sales and network marketing offer people a way to work and live within their value systems. This is one of the main reasons women are drawn to this profession in record numbers, now more than ever.

Recently I spoke at a direct selling conference in Australia and was delighted to hear some of the ladies present make the statement, “We will rule the world,” with such conviction and confidence. It was remarkable to see so many women owning their power. As women become more confident, they often exude strength and become more gracefully assertive.

How can women be powerful without overpowering others?
A powerful woman speaks her truth in a respectful manner, turns challenges into opportunities, makes decisions based on the greatest good of all concerned, is honoring and honorable in all her dealings, operates within her strength, works collaboratively with a team, lives her values, asks more than tells, and knows when it is time to lead and time to follow.

An overpowering woman looks to make others inferior so she appears superior, wants complete control, tells more than asks, can be aggressive and overbearing, and many see her as challenging to work with.

Training versus Coaching
The number one retention tool in direct selling and network marketing that supports women to lead in a powerful way is coaching. Because women are natural networkers and nurturers, they have a keen advantage in today’s relationship-focused direct selling world, especially when they understand how to coach others to success.

Principle-Centered Coaching™ is a method of coaching we at the DSWA have been researching and developing since 2002. This is a heart-centered approach that supports others to access their fullest potential to move more rapidly towards their goals. It is a skill set that can fill the gap or build a bridge between what people know how to do (via training) and what they are actually doing.
Coaching is an interactive relationship that supports people to identify and accomplish their personal and professional goals faster than they could do on their own.

Coaching is not hand-holding, fixing, or providing all the answers for team members. That, by contrast, can create dependency. A common example of this is when team members call their leader for a solution each time they have a challenge related to the business. They call because they believe the leader has all the answers. When the leader just gives them the answers, they tend to hold the leader responsible for their failure or success: If the answer or solution does not work, it becomes the leader’s fault.

For years our profession has trained people and called it “coaching.” It is important to understand the unique differences between the two.

As a trainer, we...


As a coach, we...

Are teaching

Support others to learn

Provide the answers

Help others find their own answers

Have a teacher/student interaction

Have a partnership interaction

Focus on the trainer’s agenda

Focus on the team member’s agenda

Know the expertise is with the trainer

Know the expertise is with the team member

Asking the Right Questions
When a leader forms a habit of providing solutions for their team members’ challenges, they may be doing more harm than good. This truth is exemplified by the proverb, Give a person a fish, you feed them for a day. Teach them how to fish, they will eat for a lifetime.”

Once you teach people how to fish, they must actually go do the fishing if they want to eat. They are not dependent on you, but on themselves.

You can teach your people how to “fish” by training them first. Once they know how to fish, then you can instill a sense of belief and confidence within them by applying coaching and asking You’re the Expert questions—because they are the expert in their own lives. This is one of the most valuable skills you can learn to use in coaching.

You’re the Expert questions...

You’re the Expert questions begin with who, what, when, where, how—and rarely with why.

Who questions create an opportunity for team members to think about specific people or groups. “Who are you looking forward to connecting with this week?”

What questions allow a person to look further, explore, and discover his or her own answer. “What do you expect to happen as a result of your follow-up?”

When questions refer to a time or circumstance. “When would you like to have that accomplished?”

Where questions relate to a place or position, direction, source, situation, or even condition. “Where do you feel your time is best invested?”

How questions prompt thoughts around action. “How do you see that happening?”

Why questions often have judgment attached to them. This can create a barrier in communication and negatively affect trust. The most effective way to ask You’re the Expert questions is to come from a place of curiosity.

Powerful women lead with coaching skills. Coaching is a process that prompts self-discovery, accelerates learning, and improves overall performance. To be a successful leader of leaders in today’s direct selling and network marketing world requires knowledge, skills, strategy, and a healthy understanding of the coaching process.


NICKI and GRACE KEOHOHOU are cofounders
of the Direct Selling Women’s Alliance.
Nicki is CEO and her daughter Grace is president.
Both are faculty members of the DSWA Coach Excellence School,
the only coaching school focused exclusively on the
network marketing and direct selling profession.