Throughout my twenty-five years of Executive Leadership in the not for profit sector I employed an external mentor.
A mentor JD
A mentor’s role is somewhere in-between a business coach, a practice supervisor and a pastoral worker: The business coach for strategy and organisational development, funding and finance. The clinical supervisor to ensure I stay on top of the executive game and emergent trends, advising on ethical decisions and staff relationships. And the pastoral, for those times of aloneness, bewilderment – the I’m ready to quit days.
I roll all three of them up together into one catch phrase ‘Executive Mentor.’
What mentoring isn’t
I’ve never considered that recognising the need for independent mentoring was in any sense an admission of personal lack or insufficiency. Rather I think of it as a place of shared strength. It is a place that I can voice what is on my mind without any judgement, seek out a remedy together when facing a challenge or conundrum and importantly a preventative of the that executive demolisher isolation.
I find it interesting that highly demanding positions often within the health, legal, social work and therapeutic professions have supervision as a requirement. Many of us in the community sector are likewise involved in those sectors and the demands that we all no come with them. Add to that your role as chief executive, director of agency manager there is a lot to personally hold.
Independence is everything
I’d like to make one crystal clear. Your mentor should never be your chair, board member, trusted colleague, or your partner. Independence from your organisation is essential to feel really safe and to dig deeply into the management, ethical and personal spheres.
Executive Mentoring is not expected to replace team decision making, the advice of key staff or board feedback. Executive mentoring provides the space to ‘defrag’, re-think and build confidence and fine tune your art of leadership.
Ploughshare provides executive mentoring as part of its core services and programmes