Richard Branson says “If you ask any successful business person, they will always have had a great mentor at some point along the road.”
And he’s right.
I was recently lucky enough to hear Nikki King OBE, MD of Isuzu trucks share her story of success and sure enough, one of the key points she made was the valuable role different mentors had played at different times.
This impressive lady rose from a broken marriage and no obvious prospects to boss – then sold the enterprise to the parent business in Japan. She let nothing stand in her way – including learning Japanese.
My own career is not in the same league as Nikki’s. But nonetheless, when I look back on it, I have to agree on the invaluable role that mentors have played and still play in helping me achieve my personal definition of success.
I can name some key individuals who have been a mentor to me and who helped me achieve the success I’ve achieved.
When I moved from P&G to Prontaprint early on in my career, I received invaluable support from a consultant I worked with who acted as a mentor and helped me develop the commercial understanding I needed to work with small business owners.
When I was working towards a specific promotion in Accenture, I needed a mentor who knew what it would take to be successful. An ideal mentor was either someone who had been through it themselves or someone who understood how the promotion board made decisions. I asked a manager I knew to mentor me who had experience of both. And yes. I got the promotion!
When I joined Avanade as a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, one of the senior executives became a mentor to me and helped me understand the Microsoft culture and how it was different to Accenture.
And I still have a mentor who I value highly. My personal Yoda is a gentleman called Ian Brodie who helps me think through what I need to do about marketing and developing my business.
There are a range of definitions of mentoring. But for me, I would sum it up as saying
Mentoring allows you to share and learn from experience (your own and others)
So think about your own experience and your own relationships. Who do you mentor? Who mentors you?
If you aren’t involved in giving and receiving mentoring, you’re missing an enormous opportunity to share and learn from experience.
And think about what experience you can share to help others and make yourself available so they feel able to approach you.