Mentoring is an increasingly popular tool for supporting personal development. It is hard to imagine any senior manager ‘worth their salt’ not having experienced a mentoring relationship at some stage.
The mentors I have used have had a strong impact on my career choices and success. I have always looked to be mentored by people I admire and who I feel can bring with them a great deal of knowledge and experience. I have also tended to look for mentors outside my own organisation so that I can get different perspectives and broaden my network. It is not unusual for me to have more than one mentor at any one time.
I recently moved into new role within my organisation, which has taken me beyond my comfort zones of HR and organisational development.
My current mentor, Paul Sheehan, is chief executive of Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council. We used to work together many years ago. I always admired his knowledge, professionalism and his ability to stay calm under pressure. He was a natural choice for me when looking for someone who could support me in making the transition into a broader role. I describe him as a wise owl – someone who has helped guide me through a few difficult issues and prepared me for the new role I have taken on.
What Paul does really well is to help me establish priorities and stay focused. He also shares his wisdom and experience and offers different solutions that I may not have thought of.
Intrinsic to any mentoring relationship is a strong degree of trust and mutual respect. Sometimes you have to ‘bare your soul’ to get the most out of the relationship. You can only do this with confidence if you have a strong degree of trust.