What do Yoda, Mr. Miyagi from Karate Kid and Warren Buffett have in common?
They are all famous mentors who guide and support others to greater success – whether combating storm troopers, neighborhood bullies or competitive business challenges.
But mentorship isn’t just for Jedis and black belts in training. Nor is it the exclusive domain of large corporations. In fact, for small organizations and non-profits, business mentoring is one of the smartest investments you can make, bringing experience and expertise to the table that complements your own, and offering a fresh perspective.
It can be lonely at the top
Rare is the CEO, Executive Director or VP who has all the answers.
Sure you’re the boss, but you may not have the broad functional experience that equips you with all the knowledge required in your current role. Being at the helm of a company or department is challenging, and there’s no rule that says you have to fly solo. Enlisting the support of a trusted, experienced and knowledgeable mentor or advisor offers many benefits.
“Been there, done that”
The right business mentor can be a valuable asset for your company or NGO. Good mentors will bring a wealth of experience they have accumulated running businesses of their own, and can provide sound advice on:
- People (right people, development, motivation)
- Structure (organization, assignments)
- Processes (internal and external)
- Issues (problem solving)
- Next or new stage of business growth
- Dealing with CEO, board and peers
- Solving business problems – and understanding other functional groups and their impacts.
Some mentors will also work with you on:
- Work/life balance
- Stress management
- Communications skills
- Personal development
Mentors share lessons, mistakes and successes. And give you the opportunity to learn those lessons more quickly and easily. Especially important for new executives, a business mentor can increase your ability to grow into your new role and shorten the time to 100% performance level.
Mentorship in Action: Case Study
Germain Bisson is a Business Sherpa Group business mentor who has literally “been there and done that” with 30+ years in product development, strategic and operational planning, change management, and leadership development.
When he was engaged by a fast-growing startup to mentor their new-ish VP of Development, he instantly understood the challenges. The company’s main product is entering the tornado; opportunities are converting to business at a faster and faster rate. The CEO fears falling behind market demands and says hire, hire, hire.
The Development VP has virtually no experience overseeing rapid growth – he has many questions and concerns, and seemingly no time to develop a strategy.
Germain began by reviewing the current status, organizational expectations and challenges ahead.
“We then worked through the current priorities and management structure changes needed. Significant time was also spent discussing communication tools and techniques to help set expectations, improve delegation outcomes, and maintain a positive workplace culture,” says Germain.
Working in collaboration with the VP, Germain provides advice on setting priorities, management structure modifications, and key leadership skills needed during this period of rapid growth, in particular maintaining effective communications as the team grows.
“We continue to regularly review the effectiveness of the changes in process and adjust to new challenges.” says Germain “And when the time is right, I will recommend that a different mentor round out the mentee’s development by providing fresh and additional perspectives.”
A Faster Path to Success
Paying attention to a reliable sounding board and trusted coach worked for the Karate Kid. And it translates off the big screen also, into every business sector and non-profit organization.
Learn more how a Business Sherpa Group business mentor can help your personal and business growth.
About the Author
Jane Baird has been both mentor and mentee. Her professional experience includes 20+ years of corporate marketing and communications, and extends to non-profit fundraising, cause awareness and donor engagement. Jane helps organizations across sectors transform business targets into marketing strategies and programs that drive brand, sales and profitability. She counts the Business Sherpa Group among her clients.