The Power of Mentoring

Mentoring WorksLearn once, do once, teach once

This wonderful adage reminds us how effective learning, applying that learning and most importantly, sharing that learning can be, to strengthen and deepen your understanding and your experiences.

Many of the world’s most successful leaders work with a mentor or a coach to achieve the results they want both in their personal and in their business lives. They also mentor other people so that all their knowledge, learning and habits are handed on to other future leaders. You may be thinking “I’m not a leader because I don’t run a multi-million dollar company”, but think about this for a moment… Whether you are a stay at home parent, an entrepreneur, an employee or an eclectic mix of all, you are a leader to someone.

What messages do you want your kids, family, colleagues, boss, assistant or general tribe to receive from the way you lead? What I mean by leading is – how are you showing up each day? Who are you being? You know it all starts with self leadership, so start taking yourself and the roles you have chosen in life seriously. This doesn’t mean removing all the joy and passion you have in your life, but think about who is watching you and copying your habits ……… when you make a mistake, big or small, do you want your kids or colleagues to hear you endlessly berating yourself; or do you want them to witness something more resourceful like you acknowledging the mistake, sharing what you learned from the mistake and noting what you will do differently to prevent it happening again?

As a coach who works primarily with women, I always encourage my clients to share what they have learned about themselves and their resourceful strategies and habits with others. It’s called paying it forward. In other words, I encourage my clients to step up and mentor others. I was so excited to see that Australia’s most inspiring female leaders advocate this same approach.

The “Telstra Women in Business Awards” annual event attracts the most successful, inspirational and influential business women who deliver keynote speeches and address some of the main issues that have challenged the workplace over the past 20 years, since the awards were launched. If you can’t wait to find out what the finalists agreed were the top 10 key pieces of advice they have for you, skip to the end of the article, but do remember to come back and read the rest ………

The Game Changer

One of the most interesting points that has been highlighted this year, is the focus on mentoring and coaching and how important it is for organisations to have a strategy in place to ensure that women support other women on their career journey. The Australian government WGEA report states that the leadership pipeline isn’t working: women struggle to get past the lowest levels of management, and they occupy only a quarter of positions in the top 3 levels of management. A survey of leading Australian businesswomen found that 78% believe that active sponsorship, as well as mentoring are essential tools to breaking down barriers for women to succeed in the current environment. It would seem that women need to support other women in order to change the rules of the game.

The most exciting statistic (yes, stats excite me!) which I have read is that 83% of survey respondents firmly believe that women need to develop the confidence to challenge and influence authority which will be the key driver in our success in business. How to do that effectively? Get an awesome mentor and learn their skills and attributes was the response! It is worth noting that simply learning the skills is not enough. It is essential that you apply the skills to your own career path and model the habits and behaviour of your mentor and other people who are getting the results you want in life.

Vanessa Nolan-Woods, General Manager at Commonwealth Bank’s Women in Focus said; “when women work collectively to help each other, we will see more women thrive in business”. Who doesn’t want to be a part of that movement? While there are no quick fixes for increasing the representation of women in senior leadership positions and achieving pay equality, the finalists named sponsorship and mentoring as key to tackling gender equality in the workplace. Get on board!

Of those surveyed, 84% happily take on the role as mentor for the next generation of women, while 73% currently have or have had a mentor or sponsor. Remember – these are some of the most successful women in business and they are not afraid to appear “vulnerable” in that they ask for advice and help from the people who are ahead of them in the game and crucially, they listen to that advice. Think about how much you already know and could share to help someone else succeed quickly and with a lot less headaches than you may have experienced!

Sustained Success

Just before I share the top 10 key pieces of advice with you, one other important area that was highlighted as key in their sustained success was Health. In order to prevent burnout, the Award finalists emphasised the importance of exercise, with 96% believing their physical fitness influenced their focus and positivity at work. Other tips included diarising personal time, taking regular short breaks and meditation.

Advice from those in the know

In the spirit of women helping women, here is the list of their ultimate top 10 tips to help you make a difference.

  1. Be honest with yourself and others
  2. Listen to all advice, but stay true to your beliefs and values *
  3. Back yourself and draw on your intuition and emotional intelligence to make better choices
  4. Never give up or let your ego get in the way
  5. If you are a leader, scaffold other women to follow your path
  6. Be your authentic self
  7. Lead with confidence, flexibility and compassion
  8. Praise, praise, praise
  9. Learn to say ‘no’ at times and don’t apologise for it
  10. Be exceptional at what you do. Always.

A Quick Check in

* This is an area I would love to explore further with you. Take a moment now to think what your values are. What are your ground rules? Are you living by them or do you sometimes compromise them to fit in, or to accommodate others’ demands? Refer back to tip 1. Be honest …………

* Are your beliefs actually serving you? I mean, are they helping you get what you want in life? Sometimes things we believe to be “true” are no longer appropriate, relevant or useful. Did you know that your beliefs are pretty much shaped by others anyway AND they are in fact convenient assumptions. They are basically “made up” to help you make sense of the world, and because they are made up, it is easy to let go of those that no longer serve, support, nurture or challenge you and find new beliefs which will do just that!

Enjoy your journey!

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