Ask anyone who's had the opportunity and they'll tell you it was a life changing experience. So, what makes executive mentoring such a powerful method for developing business leaders?
Without the necessary skill and experience, you’d never attempt to renovate a house without the help of an expert. Even if you were capable, you would still need the help of registered professionals like a plumber or electrician to complete the job successfully. If not, you'd risk the safety of everyone inside.
So, why would you think it possible to run a business and solve every challenge without ever seeking the advice or help of an expert. Yet, that is exactly what many business leaders do; refusing to ask for help in the belief that to do is a sign of failure. While it's acceptable and even expected that we should seek the advice and opinion of those we respect when it comes to our personal life, the same can't be said when it comes to business, even though the stakes are often higher.
It goes without saying that confidentiality is critical, particularly where sensitive matters are involved. Sharing information with the wrong people can quickly backfire and cause untold damage to a Company as well as be a career limiting move. But the fact remains that business leaders find themselves increasingly isolated with little or no access to independent advice, alternative thinking or even a second opinion.
It can be terribly ‘lonely at the top’, but it doesn’t have to be, and it shouldn’t be. It’s a well-established fact with universal agreement - isolation is not a healthy. For business leader it can be down-right dangerous because the fact is - no individual has all the knowledge, skill and ability that's needed to address every single challenge faced by a business. Seeking help is not a sign of weakness or defeat, but rather a sign of emotional intelligence, effective reasoning and the ability to think and act objectively.
Business leaders today face far more complex issues than ever before. The pace of consumer led change, a more diverse workforce, the growing demands of stakeholders and aggressive and unpredictable tactics by competitors; are just a few of them. On top of are issues we all face like information overload and keeping up with technology.
Executive mentoring programs have proven to be an extraordinarily successful solution. As well as individual development, Executive Mentoring encourages a performance driven culture within a company. It’s by no means remedial and should only be considered for those who demonstrated the ability to shape the company’s future.
While the first hurdle is recognising you need an Executive Mentor, the second is finding a suitable match. For this, there are 2 considerations:
1. Experience & Track Record
An Executive Mentor doesn’t need to be from the same industry. In fact, many would argue that it's better if they’re not. But they must have at least 5 to 10 years’ experience as a senior executive with a high level of business acumen and a proven track record of success.
2. People Development
An Executive Mentor must have demonstrated they can lead and develop people. They require an understanding of human behaviour and the ability to cut through the noise and excuses. Most importantly they must be someone you respect, trust and who you can communicate with openly and honestly.
You see, the role of an Executive Mentor is to provide guidance, encouragement and support. They should inspire you, challenge the status quo and provide the necessary insight to influence your behaviour. By sharing their knowledge and wisdom, you gain greater insight and that leads to better decision making.
The typical outcomes to be expected from an Executive Mentoring Program are:
More clearly defined goals & a structured plan to achieve them
24/7 access to expert knowledge & experience
Reduced levels of stress
Exposure to new ideas, insights and alternative ways of thinking
Guidance to improve team leadership and people management skills