Lastest news

How to equip leaders to build the future

Jun 29, 2018
Navigating the road less travelled is much more enjoyable with a guide who has taken all the steps themselves before you. While no less of a challenge, having this guiding example can zero your focus, remove any self-confidence issues and give a clear direction of travel.

As it is in travel, so it is in the business world. 

Back in late 2015, the Irish Management Institute (IMI) in partnership with the 30% Club Ireland, piloted a new cross-company mentoring scheme to raise up high-performing leaders from all sectors to reach their potential.  

Effective formula

The formula is very simple – matching senior, experienced leaders (mentors) with mid-career high potentials (mentees) delivered cross-company and sector.  

The real impact and difference in this scheme is the external cross matching. As an example, a mentee from a retail background can be matched with a mentor from a professional services firm.  Importantly, and in alignment with the 30% Club’s mission to develop a broader pipeline of women and ‘balance the pyramid’ at all levels, there must be at least 50% female representation in the mentee selection.  

Giving back

A mentor will be able to give guidance on how to better navigate the mentee's career.  Tapping into the experience of a trusted and experienced mentor can be invaluable for anyone trying to move to the next stage in their career, improve personal performance or to just navigate a particularly challenging time.

Louise O’Leary, Chartered Accountant and a senior recruitment manager at The Panel, began working with a mentor in April 2017. The relationship has improved her confidence about her personal leadership style and how she interacts with and influences people, she said.

‘’It makes you assess your own perceptions and values,” she said. “And it definitely helps in terms of giving you the confidence to influence people, to manage and lead, and to bring people on board with you.”

The two meet, usually over breakfast, for a couple of hours every six to eight weeks.

“Because my mentor is very senior, I thought it might be quite formal and intimidating,” said O’Leary. “But he brings it back to a level where we’re literally just having a chat and he’s giving his perspective and asking the hard questions that make you look at yourself. It helps you feel things out and see the gaps.”

The key to this success was getting matched up with someone whose background and experience suits her specific requirements but were very different from her own. 

“It opens up a pool of experienced people that you wouldn’t normally have access to,” she said. “It would be very difficult for me to go and find a mentor in my own network who would be experienced enough to be able to mentor me.”

Relationship management

As well as giving you advice on how to grow your network, navigate your career and build your capabilities, an external mentor can give you guidance on managing certain relationships, such as with your boss. it can be very hard to have that conversation with someone else in your own organisation.

David Magee is the Head of Membership in IMI.