How to Mentor for Success the Strictly Come Dancing Way

Mentoring Guide

A mentoring guide. Based on a television show? How’s this going to work then?

Well, last week saw the launch of Strictly Come Dancing 2016. There were glitter balls, there were sequins, there was Claudia Winkleman’s fringe. And there were lots of nerves and probably even a few tears. It was a glorious opening show, full of fun, glitz and glamour – and a rocket ship.

“I’ve never seen so many attractive people in one place outside of a magazine!”  Judge Rinder
“It’s like the biggest premier of your life!” Lesley Joseph

Class of Strictly 2016

The first week of Strictly Come Dancing is always a fascinating one for me as it shows the journey of the professional dancers and the unsuspecting celebrities as they’re matched for the first time.

If you haven’t seen the show, the premise is that a team of professional dancers from all over the world work with some of our most well-loved celebrities. Over the course of the series, they transform them into graceful ballroom dancers.

So, what does this have to do with mentoring?

Well, when it comes to creating a successful mentoring relationship and developing a mentoring guide, the key thing to remember is that you need to know what the person wants and what area they need mentoring in.

(I’ve written about how to get your mentoring programme off to a great start here)

Common Mentoring Challenges.  Specific Mentoring Needs.

Common challenges that people want to solve through mentoring include:

  • Learning to understand the business they work within
  • Improving their confidence, How to achieve their Personal Development Plan
  • Developing their leadership skills
  • How to get to the next step in their career
  • Accessing opportunities for development in training or towards promotion
  • Developing people skills
  • Strategic thinking
  • How to network with senior audiences
  • How to handle financial information

But while the challenges may be common, the mentoring requirements are not.  And that’s true in Strictly too.

In Strictly Come Dancing all the celebrities need to develop their ability to dance – that much is clear – but the specific need for support differs for each individual.  

In mentoring, all individuals want to develop their careers and professional ability – that, too, is clear – but each person’s specific need also differs.

Elements to Consider for Mentoring Success

When it comes to developing a successful mentoring relationship, a keen awareness of the differing needs for skills is vital. On the Strictly dance floor, this need is shown in a number of ways.

All the Strictly contenders need to learn to dance, we’ve established that.

But we need to add to this fact the recognition that they have different strengths and development needs, for example:

– Some are physically strong but may lack rhythm (Greg Rutherford)

– Some are musical but may lack stamina (Melvin Odoom & Will Young)

“There’s a lot to learn. I thought we’d just be touch stepping. I think we’ve been thrown in at the deep end. Can we start a hashtag – #HelpWill?”  Will Young

– Some are used to being in the public eye, but are not used to acting and “performing” (Ed Balls and Naga Munchetty)

“I’m concentrating on not looking like a right idiot.” Ed Balls

The Full Scope of Mentoring Support is Vast

When it comes to successful mentoring in the commercial sphere, each person will also have their personal strengths and development needs. This can expand from sharing skills and experience, to support for people’s different personalities and levels of emotional resilience. It will also differ for different people:

 – Louise Redknapp is musical and has dance and performance experience from her years in Eternal but she lacks confidence having been out of the limelight for so long.  

“I don’t know if I can dance any more, it’s been so long. I hope they don’t expect too much too soon.” Louise Redknapp

She specifically wanted a calm, kind partner (and was thrilled to be paired with Kevin Clifton)

– Daisy Lowe said she hoped for someone who would challenge her and have a sense of humour

“I think I do have quite a good sense of natural rhythm. But I’m very clumsy… I would like someone to be pretty tough with me and work me quite hard.” (she was paired with Aljaz Skorjanec)

– Anastacia has admitted to being a “fighter” and is the only one who has said she wants to win (She was paired with the equally bullish Brendan Cole)

And finally, there are some practical considerations.  

Mentoring Guide Practicalities: The Essentials

In Strictly it’s mostly to do with size and age:

– Melvin Odoom was paired with Janette Manrara, two “pocket rockets.”

– Lesley Joseph (the oldest contender) was paired with Anton du Beke (the oldest professional dancer).  After revealing it would be fan-favourite Anton who Joseph would be twirling around the dance floor with, she said

“This man is a legend, I’m thrilled.” Lesley Joseph

– Claudia Fragapane (the youngest contender) was paired with AJ Pritchard (the youngest or at least one of the youngest professional dancers) and said of the group dance, 

“I get chucked around a lot” Claudia Fragapane

In professional mentoring, the practicalities are less about size and age (can you imagine?!)  Instead, they are more around geography and time.  In simple terms, how easy is it for people to meet.

Without Ambition, Mentoring Cannot Work

Whether it’s Strictly or mentoring, one thing both have in common is that the individuals being developed need to have ambition and want to learn. Without that there’s nothing to work with.

For what it’s worth, there are lots of couples who I will be watching with interest (the full line-up is here) but right now my favourite is Naga Munchetty (with her famous death stare) and Pasha Kovalev. She looked SO stunning! I just loved that red dress. 

So – who have you got your hopes pinned on from the Class of Strictly 2016?

And what about your mentoring programme?  Do you need any help?  I’d love to hear from you – you can get in touch with me here.



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