Mentor or coach – to be or not to be?

Written by Sid Jashnani  |  25, November, 2020  |  0 Comments

I have always been keen to identify blind spots in my life and business. That is where EO has been fantastic. First with Forum. Then with broader member engagement.

I've reached out to specific EO members when I've been stuck on a particular problem or situation, whether it's formal or non-formal. And I usually had a positive experience with that.

I was successful most of the time, but sometimes it did not work. And I've never experienced a structured way of doing this; it was always ad hoc. And when I shared this with my Forum, some had similar experiences too. And I just thought there has to be a better way. That is what attracted me to the mentorship programme. It could add much value to the EO experience.

I don't want to get married but I'll go on a date

I've been speaking with EO alumni, and people who've been interested in mentoring in the past and the consensus is "they don't want to get into a marriage, but they are happy to go on a date."

There are two common points of friction, both which I also experienced as a mentor.

1. The first meeting is good, and maybe the second too. But if there is no chemistry, moving beyond that can be problematic - which is when you find there is no defined exit clause. Before you know it you're ghosting the other person; I'm busy, I've got something going on, I'm travelling and stuff like that. It can all become so uncomfortable, and you end up feeling bad about the whole thing. Nobody wants that.

2. Then there is the scenario where everything starts well but, eventually, what it gets down to is the mentee looking to gain access to the mentor's network. "Hey, Sid introduce me to all your clients, because I want to sell them XYZ." And you know it's just plain wrong.

Does this relationship need to be more transactional?

I have found a recurring view is that this relationship needs to be more transactional. For example, let's say you are looking to raise capital for the first time - who has experience of doing that? Could we have a chat - maybe share the background, a point of view, or pointers on what you had to avoid.

It could be there is value beyond an initial call, but it is without an assumption that there will necessarily be a long-term commitment - a more acceptable ask of would-be mentors maybe. And without that assumption, a potential EO mentor might be more inclined to commit to the five-hour mentor coaching available to members – because they would no longer run the risk of 'getting trapped'. But equally, they wouldn't necessarily feel an obligation to take on that coaching to be in a position to enter into a mentoring agreement. 

The challenge in bringing a mentorship programme back to our chapter is not a lack of mentee interest by all accounts; it is the reticence of mentors to get involved. So this matters.

Is there an opportunity to involve YPO?

Another exciting perspective came out of conversations with YPO. They don't want to get involved with an EO mentorship programme, not least because of their difficulties making a programme work too. That said, they were open to potentially approaching this from a different perspective.

What we have been exploring is making the profiles of individual YPO members, and dates they could be available to attend a Forum lunch (for example) around a specific subject area where they have in-depth knowledge and experience. It might include individuals who have done eight or nine-figure exits, or launched significant entities in emerging markets, or overcome significant failures to emerge stronger. To be explored and refined, but you get the gist — six to eight people in a closed, interactive environment in an open discussion around a shared interest.

What do you think – could this have legs?

Seriously, I would like to know. We have a short survey around this and other questions about a new mentoring programme, and it would be helpful to get your feedback. It would take just a minute – so please participate.

What makes the ideal mentor and how to behave like the perfect mentee

In my experience, the best mentors display these attributes:

  • Have achieved something significant in business or personal life
  • Ready, willing and able to give time
  • Willing to share their experience
  • Predisposed to making a difference to someone else's life

If those qualities are missing the relationship won't happen. It will always feel like an obligation rather than giving back. And 'significance' is not necessarily monetary or a grand success – it could be overcoming failure after failure to finally breakthrough or a meaningful pivot that changed everything (just by way of example).

And from a mentee perspective, they behave this way:

  • Show up on time every time
  • Trust and respect the process
  • Not out to make a buck
  • Open and honest

These things are non-negotiable, I think. We probably need an agreement that people sign up too. A straightforward pact that says we both agree to this at a minimum bar to getting involved with each other. What do you think? Is that a good idea? Let me know in this short survey.

Should this be a mentoring and coaching programme?

I have had several conversations with Global and potential participants around whether this should be a mentoring and coaching programme. From a broad perspective, I see mentoring as being more directive and a longer-term process based on mutual trust and respect. And coaching more inclined towards helping an individual find their solution over a shorter period. The latter certainly sounds more Gestalt.

I've been speaking with quite a few people about potentially becoming a mentor or a coach, and they all have the same question. A question I'm struggling with a bit. And that's what the time commitment is?

It comes back to the underlying problem of getting a programme like this underway – and that is a supply and demand gap. We have a surplus of mentees and a shortage of mentors (and coaches). Without defining the commitment in a way that is acceptable to mentor/coach prospects, we won't close that gap.

So please share your thoughts. Mentors or Coaches, or both? What do you think the right time commitment should be?

Right now I'm recording all of my calls and sharing them with Global and trying to glean input and insight from as broad a base as I can so filling in this survey will be very helpful indeed.


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