The Power of Mentoring

09 March 2018

I was lucky enough recently to be at a Women Ahead 30% Club cross-company mentoring scheme event. Wow, what a title for an event for a start! So, let me explain what this is actually about.

The 30% Club launched as a campaign in the UK in 2010 with a goal of achieving a minimum of 30% women on FTSE-100 boards. So far it has made great in-roads in this area with the current figure at 27.9% up from 12.5%. One of its aims is to help businesses improve diversity at all levels, through initiatives such as mentoring. The cross-company mentoring scheme is open to all industry sectors and sees companies putting female mentees on the scheme to be matched with mentors (male or female) in a different industry. Throughout the programme there are events and speaker-series. The latest one I attended included a keynote from Dame Helena Morrissey on the launch of her new book ‘It’s a Good Time To Be A Girl’.

Dame Helena gave a fascinating insight into her own career progress with some inspiring career advice for women today. However, the tips she gave are not just applicable to women, everyone can benefit from taking her advice no matter what gender, age, career background or aspiration. I thought I would share her top tips with you.

Leap before you look!
How many times have we not done something because we have over-thought the consequences or talked ourselves out of it because we think we are not good enough or do not deserve it. I know I have in the past. So this tip is about taking a chance and grabbing an opportunity by the horns. Try it.

Think big, start small, but start now.
Every journey starts with a single step and sometimes all you need is that first step to get going. The impetus of moving forward is so important in making progress, so get out there and take a step in the right direction today.

Play to your strengths, work your differences.
It is very easy to always focus on what we can not do, rather than what we can do. Yet, the more we can build on our strengths, the better we become in those areas without too much effort, and at the same time we still have the ability to mitigate our differences or even turn them around to become strengths.

Act confidently!
Ah, here we go, who has heard the phrase ‘fake it until you make it’, well it appears there’s some truth in the power this brings. Who’d have thought it. But, on a serious note, just believing that you can do something gets you in the right frame of mind and if you can add a confident stance (think hands on hips Wonder Woman style) then the inner belief is evident externally too.

See your career as a labyrinth, not a ladder.
Sometimes a sideways move is not always a bad thing, it can be just what is required in order to position yourself for an opportunity downstream as well as building different skills and experiences. Career progression is not always linear so be prepared to be flexible in order to progress.

Get a mentor (or two!)
Oh, the power of mentoring! Everyone should have a mentor. I have got two at the moment, both of whom help me continue to develop in different ways. I see mentoring as an ongoing discussion with someone I trust to help me address certain aspects of my work, but equally it can be used in so many different ways. 

Help others where you can – pay it forward
Being in a leadership and management position means we really should be focussing on developing our teams, and I am sure this is at the forefront of most people’s minds on a daily basis. But what else can you do, perhaps offering to mentor someone in a different team, or providing that leg up to someone with longer term potential. Whatever it is, seek out the opportunities to help and pay it forward.

If you want to be a CEO, go for it!
Absolutely – reach for the stars and you might just land on the moon. Seriously, everyone has different levels of ambition so working out what your own potential could be is an important first step. If you see yourself being a CEO in the future that is a good place to start, you then just need to work out the path that will get you there. Remember taking that first step on the labyrinthine path that is your career is just what you need to do to get started.

Remember there is no single ‘right’ path – live your life.
Just because someone else took a particular path doesn’t mean you have to. Listen to your inner self as that is the way to true happiness in your career.

It’s a good time to be a girl – but it’s not all sorted just yet.
Yes, I agree, it is a good time to be a girl, and with International Women’s Day this week we should all celebrate the women in our life and pass on these tips to help them navigate through their careers.