Michael : Jude, thank you very much for taking part in this podcast on mentoring. Can I ask you to kick off by introducing yourself, saying a little bit about your experience, and a little bit about what mentoring you do with CEO’s.
Judith : Hi. I’m the MD of Dynamic Transitions which is a leadership company, and we specialise in working with troublesome talent, or mavericks if you will – and we improve leadership skills for organisations.
What we do is we enable individuals and businesses to achieve maverick mastery. We define ‘maverick’ as being wilfully independent, being talented and being different. So when you have mastery you have the ability to blend your knowledge and your skills in a really focus way to achieve your goals. The CEO’s have really big issues – whether they’re the CEO’s of a large corporate company or a CEO of their own business.
Michael : What are the sort of issues that they have?
Judith : If you’re a CEO business-owner, you might not have the turnover that you like and you’re forever running after the next best thing -because what Ive found is that once a business owner has found a certain level of success in their business they get bored, and rather than leverage on that success they run off and try to find something else – and what that can mean is that true success can become really elusive.
And if you’re a CEO of a large organisation they often have a team of directors that are not working together in a beneficial way and the CEO himself is unable to effect change. So perhaps he doesn’t have a sounding board that he can trust. Or often its his own behaviour that is causing people to lose productivity.
Michael : Do you have a personal preference of whether you work with smaller companies or larger companies?
Judith : No, because I like the challenge of working with different people, who are challenging within themselves – whilst I like the difficulty and variety of the circumstances between the two groups.
Michael : If you had to break mentoring down into a number of key steps, what would they be and whats important about each step?
Judith : I would say that if you look at mentoring, between CEO’s, I think you have to distinguish a business owner and somebody who owns a larger company, because what they need is quite different – So for an example point of view I’ll pick a business owner.
One of the first things that needs to happen is that you need to establish what the CEO’s objectives and priorities are. You need to understand what the business is. And understanding the business means understanding what is behind the business. Quite often companies have been going for a long period of time, they’ve moved away from their core activity, and there’s lots of things within the business that they could be selling they could be divesting, that could be invested in – or that could be found in upsale – but its hidden, they don’t see it because they’re so busy delivering their key skill whether its training or selling a product.
Business’s need to also spend a period of time understanding how to articulate what they do effectively so that they can gain advocates for their services. And personally one of the things that I do when i network with people is help build reputation and credibility with the individual and the business – developing a good networking strategy, as well as covering the regular mentoring issues and such to the sounding board, providing solutions for business problems and being a strategic partner to the business.
Michael : If we were to go to a particular mentoring meeting, what are the things that you keep track of during that meeting?
Judith : Working with me in terms of mentoring means that in following a session there are assignments that need to be done. There are key activities that need to take place before the next month, and sometimes beyond that – and that ensures that you keep on track. So one of the things that we would be doing is tracking the progress of those assignments as well as making sure that we’re tracking progress towards longer term objectives.
So for example, we could be having a mentoring session and dealing with some particular issues – and often there’s a fork in activity, you can decide to develop one stream or another and they both might be important, so what we do is we prioritise it. And then the one that is less important, we will put a date to begin looking at that in the future – so we need to make sure that we never forget future objectives and future deadlines.
Michael : One of the things that you mentioned earlier was the differences between mentoring and coaching. As far as a CEO goes, when would you suggest that he think about a coach, when would you suggest he or she thought about a mentor? And are they sometimes interchangeable?
Judith : I think the terminology itself is interchangeable for a lot of people. Personally I think that mentoring and coaching is on a continuum. With coaching being less active, less proactive, more passive from the coaches point of view, than mentoring. Because mentoring for me is a transfer of skills and knowledge which takes place rather quickly. With coaching its more about asking the CEO questions to come back and provide for you.
There’s a big difference in how you achieve that and what you’re doing. So in terms of how you would pick a coach – I guess a CEO should pick a coach when they have a lot of time to achieve what they need to achieve, that what they want to discover is more behavioural and they want to understand what it is that they need to learn from or to change. I think a mentor is for when you have less time to do something, when you’re prepared to accept advice on how to do something, rather than spending more time deciding whether you want to do it or not.
And also when you’re looking for an expert in the field that you’re looking for.
Michael : OI think that’s a very clean definition an description that you’ve come up with, although I appreciate there are lots of different approaches. So tell me, when do you do mentoring – when and where? Is it something that you do face to face, do you do it online? Do you do it during the day, during the night? just where and when do you do it?
Judith : I guess it’s possible that i could do it during the night but I would want to be paid a lot more. I do mentoring face to face, but I also do mentoring via the phone because some of my clients aren’t in an easy-to-get-to location. I do mentoring half a day a month. That allows the appropriate amount of time to deal with an issue in a right way, and also following a session with me they’ll have work to do, so they’ll need time to do that.
Michael : I like that. And what do you actually do?
Judith : In terms of actuality, if you could break it down to listening to the issues that they’re raising, providing practical advice on how to resolve them, providing insight into how to make their business more profitable and how to make it grow and actually being available to them when they need me to be there – and quite often people in a similar position and in similar roles, only work in a set period and are not really there when you’ve got an issue straight away.
So for example, I often might have a client that needs to send a document out to one of their client, and then they’re just not sure that they’re happy with it.
Michael : What experience o you have that allowed you to become a mentor? Did it just happen or i it evolve over time?
Judith : It really evolved over time. I was finding myself that over my corporate experiences that i was often becoming the hub for information, and people were coming to me for advice. I was often advising the senior team and the board on how the business was doing against strategic and operational objectives. I was directing senior teams in various directions towards their performance and the key activities needed to meet the objectives.
and it kind of happened on a step-by-step process. Even as a junior employee I had to provide advice to my managers as to how they could do something better.
Michael : And what do you believe about yourself as so far as mentoring?
Judith : I believe that there’s a solution to everything and that I’m able to support the individual through the crisis that they face.
Michael : And what do you believe about your clients when you’re mentoring them?
Judith : I believe that they wish to achieve the best that they can. And that whatever they’re doing, they’re doing so because they believe that its the best for right now.
Michael : Do you have a mission? Who is Jude when you’re mentoring somebody?
Judith : Well I can only be myself, I’m not very good at being somebody else. I guess if I had to have a mission it would be making people aware of the consequences of what they do. I think that’s probably a thing that a mentor should do anyway.
Michael : Interesting. And if you had to chose a great mentor for yourself, or even a great mentor that you had to recommend to a CEO, that for some reason you couldn’t deal with him – how would you you know who to chose?
Judith : They would need to have experience in the issues that I or the CEO were supporting. They would need to understand me or my business really well. And they need to be insightful. And I guess that they need to know how to react to me.
Michael : Totally different question. If you had to describe a mentoring relationship as a metaphor, or a story, cartoon characters, animals, mythological creatures – anything you so chose – how would you describe it?
Judith : That’s quite difficult. I guess the mentoring relationship is like having a trusted guide that provides you with a torch when you cant see, a map when you are lost, and a beacon of expertise and safety as you’re navigating through rough waters and you don’t want to hit the rocks.
I suppose that a mentor is a strategic partner that wants you to succeed and cares about you as a person.
Michael : Excellent, OK. I really appreciate that. Just to finish off – is there anything that you would like to bring up that is important in mentoring that we haven’t covered or is there anything that you would like to emphasise to our listeners because you think that it’s really important as far as mentoring goes?
Judith : It is really important that it’s the right person that is mentoring you. You need to be able to get on with them, they need to be able to understand you and you’re business, and its somebody that you really need to trust. So its somebody that you need to feel safe with, but also somebody that will challenge you hard when you need to be challenged. And they should also understand what you want to achieve and how you’re going to achieve that.
Michael : OK – somebody that you can be safe with somebody that is prepared to challenge you hard. I like that. So is there anything that you’re doing now that you’d like to plug for our listeners so that they know that they can contact you if they want your services?
Judith : Well, what Ive done most recently – over the last month or so is that I have updated my business mentoring programme for 2009. So I guess if I had to plug something it would be my business mentoring programme, enabling individuals to achieve maverick mastery to increase their turnover, improve their business and how to interact with themselves and their suppliers in a much better way.
Michael : And how do people contact you?
Judith : They can contact me via my email which is firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone on 02082880512
Michael : Thank you very much indeed.
Judith : You’re welcome, thank you Mike.
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