The power of mentoring

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The power of mentoring

20 Oct 2021  by Sara Hope  Programme

The power of mentoring image

National Mentoring Day 27 October

I wouldn't be where I am today without the fantastic workplace mentors who have supported me, and continue to support me, along the way.

Sometimes the conversations have been part of a formal programme and at other times they have been amazing individuals who have listened, created a space for me to learn and helped me to believe in myself.

Sadly, two are no longer here (John Bailey and Jim Muir) but I know their wisdom is never far away.

So much learning comes from being involved in all these conversations and mentoring is a very individual experience.  The trust and quality of the relationship is built by the two people involved and a mentor that is great for one person, may not be great for another.

However, there are some key attributes that I have experienced in all the mentors I have worked with.  In fact, they are attributes I associate with any great leader or manager.

They listen – Listening is a skill that is just as important as being able to speak.  Being listened to, and feeling heard, helps grow trust in the mentoring relationship and deepens thinking. 

They ask great questions – I often recall a question that one of my mentors asked me when I left corporate life to embark on a new stage in my career.  “Do you want to create a business or is it a lifestyle choice?”  That question automatically made me think differently and helped bring some clarity to my plans.  

They understand the importance of connecting – all great mentoring relationships start with the building of rapport and trust. One of the most impactful ways to connect is through sharing personal stories and getting curious about the person you are talking to.  Often, we call it ‘small talk’ but the reality is, it’s the kind of chat that needs to be embraced and appreciated in a mentoring relationship.

They offer no judgement – mentoring requires you to question the intent behind everything you say. A great mentor acts with their mentee in mind at all times and ensures that all they say and do is for their benefit alone.

They are curious – great mentors free themselves up from feeling the need to be “experts”, they understand that they are there to help their mentee think.

They think about the conversational environment – some of the most inspiring mentoring conversations I have had have been outside, often walking side by side.  Evidence  shows that spending time outdoors can reduce stress levels, increase creativity and innovation, and help our brains and bodies stay healthy – all of which can foster a more impactful mentoring relationship.

Above all, I think one of the most important attributes I value in my mentoring relationships is that my mentors truly believe that this is a two-way learning partnership. When I look for a mentor, the first thing that is front of mind is finding someone who says that they expect and want to learn just as much as me.

As we approach national mentoring day, it’s a great opportunity to reflect on the impact these kinds of attributes have on our ability to think and learn.  And if you haven’t got a mentor? I invite you to go out and find one – you won’t regret it!

by Sara Hope of Conversation Space

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