Posts Tagged ‘Mentorship’

By David Pasieka

I had a young CEO approach me the other day with a question that had been puzzling for her for some time.

“What is the difference between a Coach and a Mentor? Could I benefit from having Both?”

As I promote my ability to be the Entrepreneur’s Entrepreneur providing both Coaching and Mentoring services, (www.cedarvue.ca) I felt compelled to respond.

Mentors can historically be linked back to the Trojan War when Odysseus, the King of Ithaca entrusted his kingdom and the care of his son to Mentor. A common definition would include words such as : “trusted, wise, counselor, guide, teacher, role model, resource, support mechanism or sounding board”. Mentors are usually self selected by the individual and the relationship is built on a solid foundation of chemistry and trust. The focus of the Mentor’s program is all about the individual and will be dynamic and fluid depending on the client’s changing needs.

A key trait of a Mentor’s work is that the Mentee may choose to be selective of the advice they choose to heed. Mentors will Facilitate, Question, Listen, Challenge, Build and Inspire but for the most part, allow the Mentee to find their “own path through the forest“. Much of my work as a Mentor is personally enriching – there is not a session that I have with a Mentee where I didn’t add to my long list of key learnings.

Coaches on the other hand are established to: “instruct, direct and teach individuals or teams to improve in a sport, skill or subject“. Coaches are usually focused on performance improvement and follow a very specific and regimented program agenda. (When was the last time your hockey coach asked what does the team want to work on today?) Unlike a One on One Mentor program, a Coach could be working on an individual or team basis. Coaches bring both a perceived and real sense of authority or power to the relationship. Ultimately, the Coach is driving “compliance” to the advice and instruction. Results are clearly measured and linked back to the Coaching agenda.

In response to the Headline question it’s probably both. On the personal level, many would suggest that having a wise Mentor would be one of the most valuable career assets a leader could have. Coaches will also be critical in ensuring that individual and team performance levels are consistently challenged and achieved.

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here. Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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By Michael Hepworth

Part 2

Yesterday in Part 1, I talked about how mentors have been important in my life and how they contribute to a successful business. Today, I want to talk about how to find the right mentor.

First off, write down the goals you want to achieve. Then decide where you need help. Once you have that list, look around in your industry for people who are successful. Ideally try to find people who have retired recently. They are often at loose ends; bored with doing nothing and willing to help. Also, if their retirement is recent, they are still current, which is critical. Another source is subject matter experts in the field you need to learn about.

The easiest way to reach these people is to write them a short note, expressing admiration for their careers and achievements. This must be sincere as any insincerity will be immediately recognizable.

Ask for the opportunity to meet with them over lunch and outline the area or issue on which you are looking for advice. This first meeting should be exploratory. You need to know if you get along, and understand what this person can teach you. You also need to find out your potential mentor’s level of interest in this kind of role and you need to understand what he or she wants in return and what each of you expects from the relationship. I would not discuss compensation until you are sure you want to work together.

Some questions you should have in the back of your mind include:

  • is this someone I can trust?
  • Is this someone I can confide it?
  • Is this someone who can give me relevant advice, feedback and support?
  • Is this someone with sufficient technical knowledge to be able to help me learn what I need to learn?

Be prepared to pay top dollar for this kind of help, after all these people can help you accelerate your progress dramatically and you can learn from every mistake they have made. Imagine what it would have been worth to me to have solved my problem in a matter of days or weeks instead of years! But don’t pay more than you are comfortable with. Follow your instincts.

Before each meeting decide what you want from the discussion and outline this before you begin. This also will give you a measure of success. When working with your mentor, it is important to keep track of your progress so that both of you can see the benefits of working together. It will also be important to let your mentor know what you are learning as you progress through the relationship.

I believe in multiple mentors. I like to choose people with different skill-sets and perspectives. This not only gives me depth in the chosen area, but also the opportunity to compare different perspectives where appropriate.

Sometimes the people you would like to have as mentors are already in the business of giving advice. If this is the case, respect that. This is how they earn their living; don’t expect them to do something for you outside of what they normally do. If you need their skills and can afford to pay them, often this is a great way to accelerate your success.

Michael Hepworth is a serial entrepreneur, with a history of successful start-ups and exits. His newest venture is Alternative Fuels Corporation. www.alternativefuelscorp.com

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By David Pasieka

Fresh out of school I started my career at one of the icons of Canadian business – Bell Canada. Included in the icon group were other national brands such as IBM, Xerox, Petro Canada and Imperial Oil. At the time, the world was still thinking about starting and finishing your working life with the same company. These organizations were legendary for Leadership Training, Skills Development and Coaching programs that included “a new job every 6 months”.

On my first day on the job, I was given a team of 12 individuals who I had to coach, motivate and manage. To support my efforts, I was sent to leadership training courses every 6 months to fill in the gaps. In hindsight, I now realize how fortunate I was to be part of a New Graduate Training program – my education and practical on the job training has been part of my fabric ever since.

In today’s world a lot has changed. Clearly, the concept of employment for life” has a new time horizon and companies are spending less on their graduate programs. Company training and education services have also been severely cut back. Gone are the days where companies would hire you for your ability to learn and proceed to train you to fill in the gaps. Recruitment today is looking for the individuals who can do the job with their existing tool sets and hit the ground running.

Working with our new breed of entrepreneurs has a different twist. A full 50% of entrepreneurs fall between the ages of 19 and 30. How and where do these individuals get their training and skills development in today’s environment?

In a recent study conducted by OI Partners (www.oipartners.net) a number of key items were identified that were consistently leading to the failure of newly minted leaders. Five of these factors include:

  1. Leadership & Delegation – the ability to get results through others.
  2. Motivation – the ability to rally the troops to higher levels.
  3. Communication – the ability to provide clear and concise messages.
  4. Personal Skills – the ability to relate on an interpersonal level.
  5. Recognition – the wiliness to celebrate the successes no matter how small.

When you scan this list you conclude these factors can be theoretically” studied, but the realty is that they have to be “experienced”. So where do entrepreneurs get the experience to fill the gap?

In a previous blog,we chatted about the importance of Advisory Boards and their impact on improving company success. These boards are helpful to gain traction in the marketplace – but today’s young entrepreneurs will need more. To supplement the experience & training gaps, a strong prescription of Mentorship from a seasoned “been there done it” Coach is clearly warranted.

Coaches will come in many forms and range from a “certified” professional, to a relative or simply a trusted friend. Often coaches are joined together in business forums, where the entrepreneur can open up amongst a group of peers in a “risk free” environment. Regardless of the background or format, the coach will need to add value by identifying and filling critical experience gaps. Rounding out the theoretical with practical experience, will clearly enhance the probability of commercial success.

David Pasieka is the Entrepreneur-in-Residence at the RIC Centre. Learn more here.  Visit Our Contributors page for more information about David. Read his blog at www.cedarvue.blogspot.com

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