When talking about the importance of mentoring, the American author and businessman Zig Ziglar couldn’t have said it any better – ‘A lot of people have gone further than they thought they could because someone else thought they could.’
Leave your ego behind
I chose to apply for the mentor programme as I felt the need to exercise my thoughts, questions and concerns on the industry and indeed my career to someone outside of my own workplace. I was a new member of WIPR and at that time a Board Director at LUCHFORD with my sights on an MD position. Whilst I have a super network of ex-colleagues, existing co-workers and am even lucky enough to have a Father in the profession my ego is small enough to realise I could benefit from a trusted mentor where I could be indulgent in conversation and learning.
Even so I came up against some feeling that it wasn’t necessary. It made me question if the competitiveness of the working world was conducive to honest development? I knew I would benefit from it but did it make me look weak in admitting this?
Going back a step
As a parent I see my children being coached, guided and taught with encouragement in buckets. So why is it that as adults such relationships are scarce in finding that professional satisfaction?
Being paired with Misha was exactly that. Someone who knows all too well about an authentic blend between creativity and experiential, but with the wisdom and experience of rising to MD and working through negotiations to do just that. We set boundaries and expectations and from this first lunch trust was borne.
Misha and I met frequently and she also made herself available for questions, often spontaneous ones on a Sunday or evenings and this was immensely appreciated. Sometimes I just needed that second opinion and she went beyond the call of duty to support me.
Being a mentee means taking on a role, it takes work and this is certainly not the job of the mentor – they are just the facilitator. Share your goals, commit, show up, say thanks, record your progress and give back.
A mentor/mentee relationship
At the very outset I made it clear that I was keen to progress through the company and we broke down the skillset required from financial planning through to HR and operations, client servicing and new business. Misha was crucial in connecting the dots between my abilities and my potential and I learnt so much from her own tales of agency life.
As a result of the mentor programme I am more confident in my management style, I have a consistency of leadership and am focused on my compass for success both within LUCHFORD and personally. I am 100% clear on what I need to deliver for the agency and have set myself high targets for creating an infectious and positive culture within the company. Whilst I have big financial targets to achieve I now know that these can be delivered without compromising on basic decency and sincerity. I was also promoted to deputy MD in January.
Pay it forward
Final piece of advice for potential mentees. If you have a good experience pay it forward. I am now mentoring a brilliant woman at Cancer Research UK and if I can be half as decent as Misha I’ll be happy.