Mentoring relationships: Why they are important

Through my decades of business experience, it has been my privilege to mentor many individuals and groups. Often, this has been during my executive leadership roles but it I also get requests from clients or not-for-profits that are looking for independent ‘power-free’ mentoring for individuals in their organisations.

Mentorship is a relationship. It is a process. It is a sharing of wisdom, experience and know-how to guide the best decisions possible around problem solving, career advice, and general support to an individual that is has hit a turbulent time or perhaps has aspirations for growth. In other words – mentoring can happen for lots of reasons!

For example, I am currently mentoring a CEO who is in a business going through a transformation and new operating model including ever-changing organisation structures. One of the biggest points of value for the CEO is having a mentor that is ‘political and power free’. Because I am not in the organisation, I have no agenda around the topics or problems that need solving. Therefore, I am able to provide independent guidance and expert advice. But, mostly I find that when I can facilitate a conversation with the right questions, then the CEO is coming up with the answers. Isn’t that always the case? However, without this independent guidance, the CEO would not have anyone internal to turn to. The relationship, the process and the expert guidance (including all those questions!) is proving invaluable to setting the strategic direction and improving the CEO’s leadership across the top team and the broader business.

Another example is the CEO of a start-up not-for-profit organisation. Someone with innovative and important ideas, but needed guidance on how to translate these ideas to ‘business speak’ so future stakeholders (and investors) would listen, understand and be inspired to participate. What a pleasure it was to work with this CEO as she learned and applied new ideas to her approach. The not-for-profit is going strong and she continues to lead funding drives at senior government and business tables. The mentor sessions gave her the chance to ask the ‘dumb’ questions, try out her pitches and think through what was potentially holding her back from really getting out there.

These examples are both CEOs, but mentoring is for all levels – in fact, it is critical at all levels of our careers. You can choose to go it alone – but why do that when you have the opportunity to build a mentor relationship that will help guide you through!

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