Why Mentoring Endures
September 30th, 2022
I’ll always remember my first day as Chief Executive of Rumbalara, an Aboriginal sporting and community development organisation. I’d been told the finances were a little “delicate”, so the first meetings scheduled were with the organisation’s accountant and Treasurer. The accountant told me that we were six-eight weeks away from insolvency and the Treasurer explained that he was “not very good with numbers” and “just signed things”. Oh dear. I suddenly felt very alone: there was no other senior manager in the organisation.
Fortunately, the wisdom of the Indigenous culture came to the rescue: for thousands of years huge importance has been placed on a system of Elders, where experienced community members guide the less experienced. Consequently, Rumbalara’s Chairman intuitively saw the need for mentoring. My two subsequent mentors would help make my working life so much easier, effective and enjoyable. This made life outside of work far more pleasant too.
From then on, I’ve been ‘sold’ on the value of mentoring and since founding mch in 2005; I’ve been drawn to mentoring work in various guises. However, my passion for mentoring would count for little if it wasn’t in continual demand. So, what creates the demand?
I believe the answer lies in the characteristics of a healthy mentoring relationship. A great mentor is independent, experienced and skilled and their sole focus is to help their mentee. In addition to their expertise and motivation, they give enough time to the relationship to enable genuine progress. Who wouldn’t benefit from having such a person in their life?
While mentoring’s focus is very much on the mentee, almost all mentors I’ve spoken with gain just as much from the relationship. In addition to the ‘warm glow’ that comes with being of service to someone else, mentoring offers an ideal environment for self-reflection and for enhancing the emotional intelligence and communication skills required for great management and leadership.
If you haven’t already, I hope you find yourself a mentor or mentee (or perhaps both).