Steps Ahead Mentoring: I believe

Posted: March 13, 2014 in Uncategorized
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With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility

A famous statement from the Spider Man films, and one that I think sums up a lot of the human potential/performance situations we see in work.

Many of us have acquired experience, which when matched with developed skill and application of those abilities in delivering great outcomes gives us power. Situational, hierarchical or social power.

It is with that in mind that I think about the use of power. How do we yield our “power-base”? Especially in a profession all about the people and the good things we need people to do in pursuit of organisational or business goals to make successful enterprises and the thus make the “world go ’round”.

Power can be corrupting. Alpha Male syndrome can be protective and destructive yet power can be brilliant. It can push us to achieve what we didn’t even know we could achieve.

Power in this instance is the power of someone with something to offer, sharing that with someone who needs that something, in order to help them build their power-base. Increase their effectiveness. Confidence boosted. Options created. Energy generated.

So that’s why I’ve decided to give what I have to the CIPD’s “Steps Ahead Mentoring” programme.  I am matched and waiting for my collaborator to come back to me and arrange our first chat.

Young people. That group of people who happen to be born before a lot of us and who are now venturing from being educated and prepared to being productive and purposeful about their work. Work being the key society enabler in civilisation, economic prosperity and personal satisfaction.

It’s easy to think “someone else will be better at this than me” or “where will I find the time to help someone younger?” Yet here’s an example that happened to me which made a huge difference in my life and work-related success.

Rewind to 2000. I had just been successful in securing one of the biggest jobs in my entire career. Part of a huge IT-based programme of business improvement and change. I was more excited than you can imagine.

Yet tinged with excitement came huge self-doubt. I was suddenly thrust into a situation with revered academics. Big-hitting business leaders. Experts. Established society leaders and people with brains bigger than planets.

Luckily I had a wise boss. Someone I knew a little before I joined and we set about looking at what value I could add to his work; our work; the work.

He was, and I bet still is, someone who’s intellect could captivate any meeting/presentation and who’s gentle and calm delivery would have people leaning in and tuned in.

I was NONE of those in my mind. Energetic, informed and passionate was – to  me – nowhere near what was required to hold court on the controversial, far-reaching and much-needed topics we were there to deliver on.

And yet he saw something in me – potential perhaps – that he wanted to work with. He was clever enough not to clone me into him. He instead gave me measure, balance, calmness, insight, belief. Belief being the biggest one. He and I double headed presentations and speeches; workshops and meetings and generally became a double act. We complemented each other.

Gradually, as his workload changed and I was more confident, he stepped back. Sometimes he cancelled at late notice. I took it that he believed I could do it and so I got on with it. He then just handed the entire game over to me.

He believed in me. He helped me believe in myself. I felt enabled, empowered and enlightened.

So it’s this BELIEF that I am most looking forward to helping create in my mentee (duff word but has come to be the term we use).

Belief is a powerful thing. It’s the antidote to overconfidence which is where trouble begins. Belief is the key to outstanding human endeavours. It is the crucible factor in us stepping up where others have either messed up or exited swiftly.

Belief is where ideas are given life and drive. Belief is where we can be humble yet confident. Belief is where we go to when we have moments of doubt. Belief is our energy cell that props us up when the other chemicals like adrenalin and dopamine are spent.

Believe in a better future? Then build that with those who are going to live there when we’ve moved on. That’s “young people” by the way.

Cue George Benson/Whitney Houston “Greatest Love Of All”…well that’s got to be better than being a “Belieber” right?



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