Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: The Role of Coaching and Mentoring (Part 1)

Episode 34 October 27, 2021 00:47:37
Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: The Role of Coaching and Mentoring (Part 1)
The Edge: A Skillsoft Podcast
Developing Tomorrow’s Leaders Today: The Role of Coaching and Mentoring (Part 1)

Oct 27 2021 | 00:47:37


Hosted By

Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek

Show Notes

Part 1: October 27th marks National Mentoring Day: a day to celebrate coaches, mentors, and those who help us achieve professional and personal growth. Here at Skillsoft, we believe in the transformative power of mentorship and coaching and recognize the role these will play in the future of leadership development for leaders at all levels. To highlight this, host Michelle Boockoff-Bajdek, is joined by two professionals in the mentoring and coaching space – Caroline Taylor, former CMO for IBM's Global Markets, and Beth Egan, an Executive Coach and Masterclass Speaker.

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Episode Transcript

Speaker 1 00:00:07 The views expressed by guests are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Skillsoft. Speaker 2 00:00:13 Welcome to the edge, a Skillsoft podcast for learners and leaders alike. In every episode, we engage in candid thought provoking conversations on the topic of learning and growth in the workplace. And on today's episode, we're going to celebrate those people who play pivotal roles in our lives, in our careers and in our personal professional growth. And these are our mentors and our coaches. And in case you didn't know today, October 27, it's national mentoring day. Yay. And this was started in 2014 by award-winning business mentor, Chelsea baker, to recognize and celebrate mentorship in all forms. Now I, myself am a huge believer in the transformative power of mentorship, and I've had several of my own along the way. I'd love to give a shout out to Kathy calling and nascent, Kathy Colta and Michelle Fitzpatrick. And, and frankly, all of those who followed I've also had the honor of serving as a mentor to others. Speaker 2 00:01:15 And it is so rewarding to work with talented individuals and be a part of their growth. All right now onto the facts. Why is mentorship so important? And for those being mentored, we know that the benefits are clear, right? So in an analysis of 43 different studies from the past 30 years, SAP HR research found a positive correlation between career outcomes and mentorship. So compared to non mentored employees, mentored employees, a received higher compensation, B a greater number of promotions, C always feel more satisfied and committed than their non mentored peers and D are more likely to believe that they will advance in their career. But mentorship and coaching are also good for business. 71% of fortune 500 companies have mentoring programs and 63% of organizations use executive coaching to support their leaders. Why? Because investing in leadership development pays off in reduced employee turnover. Speaker 2 00:02:27 It also improves business performance, productivity and innovation. And at Skillsoft, we recognize the critical function, mentorship and coaching play in developing tomorrow's leaders. Today, we recently acquired pluma a leading digital professional development and executive coaching platform deepening our own leadership portfolio by adding that individualized coaching component. And so today I could not be more excited to share with you two special conversations with two incredible female leaders on the topic of mentorship, coaching and the future of leadership development. Now it is my honor to sit down first with Caroline Taylor, an experienced international marketing leader and change agent, and oh yes. My mentor Caroline has spent more than 30 years in the technology sector. Most recently as chief marketing officer for IBM's global markets, she's a passionate advocate for diversity equity and inclusion. And in January of 2017, she was appointed an officer of the most excellent order of the British empire for her services to marketing diversity and the prevention of human trafficking. Speaker 2 00:03:45 Now, I also had the privilege of speaking with Beth Egan and executive coach and masterclass speaker known as the growth mindset coach for executive Beth brings 21 years of strategic and operational experience with the Coca-Cola company to her role. As an executive coach, Beth combines her business experience with behavioral science as a certified professional coach and assessor to help clients accelerate their leadership potential. And we here at Skillsoft are lucky enough to call Beth a member of the family through her role as an executive coach. Pluma. Now, before we head into my conversation with Caroline, I thought I'd share a little bit of a background on how we became acquainted and how she became my mentor. Now here's a story. So I had joined IBM via the acquisition of the weather company and early on in my tenure at IBM, I traveled to the UK to participate in IBM's world of Watson event. Speaker 2 00:04:45 The host Caroline was all inspiring. She was up on stage speaking with customers, thought leaders, as she provided her own perspective as well on the future of work, I was in awe fast forward a few months. And once again, I came face-to-face with Caroline because she was asked to speak with a number of marketing leaders from across newer acquisitions about how to navigate IBM. And she had shared some of her own experiences. And once again, I was mesmerized. I immediately reached out to my liaison, Carol and said, pulleys, will you make an introduction? And she did more than that. She asked Caroline, if she would serve as my mentor, it was life changing. And while I've long since gone from IBM and Caroline has retired from the company, I still seek her guidance. Recently, I asked her a question I've been grappling with, how do you move an organization through significant change, especially as people are starting to fatigue. Speaker 2 00:05:47 And she had this to say, stay relentlessly positive, remind people of the why and demonstrate accomplishments already made, employ the nudge theory, get people to move towards something and make sure they feel invested. And then the third, and perhaps the most important look at the change through their eyes change is uncomfortable. And so you need to stay empathetic. And that has helped guide me through all of the change that we've experienced here at Skillsoft. And so I am thrilled to invite Caroline onto the edge for this very special episode. So with that, let's jump in Caroline. Welcome. Thank you for joining me on the edge of, Speaker 3 00:06:36 I am delighted to be joining. You would be even more pleased if we were face-to-face Michelle, my friend, but it's delightful to see your lovely face fever wonders of the internet. Speaker 2 00:06:45 One day, Caroline, soon, one day, I promise we will be there and it, you know, it is such a pleasure for me to have you on this. It, it, it feels a little bit like what we call here, old home day, connecting and catching up. And, you know, as I told everybody in my introduction, I have been fortunate enough to call you my mentor. And I am so grateful for the relationship that we developed and started, uh, at IBM. And look, it wasn't just that your leadership they are to me was so impressive, but it really was a lot of the work that I I've seen you do outside of IBM, including on behalf of stop the traffic, a pioneer in human traffic, trafficking prevention. And you've inspired so many people to recognize that work. Doesn't always have to be only about doing things, right, but also about doing the right thing. Speaker 2 00:07:39 And so having you as a mentor has had a real transformational impact. I don't think I'd be working for a company that had this higher purpose calling without that notion of we can still do the right thing. And so I'm very grateful that you were my mentor. I'm grateful that we stayed in touch and I am thankful for all that you have done. Now I will stop with the kudos, but cause I'm a big fan, but before we jump into the discussion on mentorship, look, I don't think that I've done anything but scratch the surface on who you are and all of the amazing things about you. So why don't you tell us a little bit more about yourself, your impressive career and anything else you'd like to share with our listeners? Speaker 3 00:08:20 Sure. Um, well, oh my goodness. I can't possibly live up to that introduction. So, uh, well, okay. I'm going to maybe I'll go backwards. So I'm currently on sabbatical. Um, I've had about 35 years in the corporate world in professional marketing. Um, most recently my, until I went on sabbatical, uh, last year, um, was working as the chief marketing officer for IBM's global markets, which really is that international marketing teams around the world, which was a, an amazing job. Albeit it did mean I spent a stupid amount of time in airports and on airplanes and all of that, but I did get to know people around the world, which is a complete privilege. Um, so I was at IBM for I think 23 and a bit years and did a number of a number of marketing leadership roles there and in the UK, uh, for Europe and then for the global team. Speaker 3 00:09:12 Uh, so I'll just play back the thing. Um, I sort of fell into marketing somewhat accidentally many, many, many years ago. I didn't do a marketing degree. I studied life sciences at college. Um, didn't intend to be in marketing, certainly didn't intend to be in technology, uh, dabbled a little bit selling fine wine. That was that, that was a fun stage. Um, built some very useful personal knowledge there. So I've had this extraordinary career, which has just been one opportunity after another and, um, and you know, wherever, wherever I could. And it made sense, I kind of grabbed him with both hands and figured out what I might do with this new, new opportunity, new life, new, new world. Um, and the great thing about doing all of those jobs that I've done over the years, but IBM and other companies has been the opportunity to do other stuff that uses the skills that I was acquiring through the years. Speaker 3 00:10:04 Um, so Michelle, you referenced, um, working with stop the traffic. Um, so I chaired their board, um, for seven years. Um, and I've worked with them for sort of seven years prior to that and still actually engaged with them as a strategic advisor. Um, so, and with other organizations as well, along the way. Um, and, and so it's a, it's an amazing opportunity to take your professional skills, um, and develop and develop and develop through different opportunities and different roles at one does, um, and, and apply them to something else. Um, and I think for a lot of us in our careers, we sort of, you feel this tension between, uh, a moral imperative to do something that's going to make the world a better place in some way, shape or form. And the reality of needing, needing a job, um, that is both fulfilling, but also pays the mortgage and all those other things. Speaker 3 00:10:57 And actually, I think in this instance, one can have it all in as much as you can have the job that pays well and is fulfilling, but at the same time, you can then use some of your spare time, uh, carve out some spare time, uh, and use that to the benefit of organizations and causes that perhaps in a million years, couldn't afford to pay you what you currently are, uh, in, you know, um, but really, really would value your input, your help, your contributions. So it's been an amazing thing like that. And then I guess aside from that, um, I'm married. I have two up daughters, they're now both married and they each have two children, so I'm a granny. Um, and, uh, and that's probably my proudest role these days. Um, probably my proudest role ever curiously and certainly the most fun. Um, so there you go. I think that it does that kind of give a sense of who on earth this woman is. Speaker 2 00:11:54 Absolutely. Absolutely. And, and, you know, you said something that I really, really loved this notion of opportunity taking advantage, full advantage of opportunities that came your way. But then also I would say probably giving opportunities to others, which, which would lead in then to our discussion on mentorship and look, it's October 27 national mentorship day. And I think it's important that we talk about what mentorship is, how it can be effective. And, you know, for me, I think what's most vital is how do you seek out and find someone who is going to be that right fit, who is going to be that support that guide and potentially be someone who can help you with opportunities. Um, but what does that mean really? What, what is the right fit? What makes for a successful and prosperous mentoring relationship? I'd love to get your thoughts on that. Speaker 3 00:13:02 It's such an interesting one, isn't it? Because, um, we all have informal mentors in our friends and, uh, and you know, maybe people we grew up with in school, college, um, previous jobs, you know, um, and there are people that we can rely on for help and support and advice. And that's great, but I think one of the joys of mentorship is it gives you an extra, at least one extra human being that you have every right to call upon, uh, for, uh, for, you know, helping support guidance, um, as you've faced whatever opportunity or challenge you might be staring, staring up in the face. So, um, so I think that's that that's, that's really brilliant about it. So the don't have to be somebody you're going to be best friends with. They don't have to be somebody you want to go out for a drink on a Friday night with, they do need to be somebody that you're going to respect because you, because otherwise you're not going to really want to take much notice of their opinion. Speaker 3 00:14:01 Um, and that, and that's really important. Um, I think that, I think that, I mean, I'm just trying to think back, cause I've kind of looked for mentors. Um, over the years, you, you look for somebody who maybe has been where you are and has moved through that phase. And so maybe have some life experience that would be valuable. Um, that could be as simple as, um, you've got young, a young family and maybe you're newly back to work after maternity leave. And, and, uh, maybe in that particular moment, you might really value a mentor who was a working mother, you know, or, or, or a working father who has primary childcare responsibility, because some of the little challenges you're going to face and have to deal with may, well, you know, fall into that space, it's finding some of this, that there needs to be some connection, something that you have in common with that person, it might be, uh, it might be that you, um, really would value somebody who to mental you, who may have got past different obstacles and the ones you think you are facing, but nonetheless, um, they they've managed it. Speaker 3 00:15:13 And so learning from their experience would be really, really helpful. Um, Michelle, do you, and I, I mean, I, I guess our first connection point was that we both got acquired by IBM at some point in our, in our careers. And, um, and so the navigating of that was a, you know, it was a, uh, uh, uh, a common point that we could start from. Um, so, so I think it has all of those things. And quite often it's reaching out to somebody else in the, in your organization. So I'd really love. I really would like to get a mentor. And these are the things I'm thinking about and is there somebody you would recommend? Um, and then even once you've identified a potential mentor, then it's really important to meet and to have a really open and honest chat to make sure that you both believe you can build the trust that will be necessary for that relationship to be really fruitful. Speaker 2 00:16:02 You know, it's funny, I will, I think you probably know this, but the first time I saw you was not, when we were having that conversation with all of the other newly acquired marketing leaders. But, but when I saw you on stage at world of Watson and I, my, my initial reaction was I want to be her. I mean, and I don't mean that in a, you know, it, but, but really this is what I aspire to do. And to be, you were having conversations with customers and with luminaries and, and you put on an event that was so powerful for the organization. And for me, it was this, the type of career that I would love to have. I didn't know who you were as a person until you did come and speak to us. And then I talked to Carol being about you. Speaker 2 00:16:50 And, and that, that I think was the moment at which I recognized. It's great to see someone and say, yes, I would love to have her or him or them as a mentor, but is, can we build that trust? And you just talked a little bit about trust, both having it and creating it. And inevitably I think trust is really that magical element that's needed to create a safe space so that the individual who's being mentored feels comfortable, raising problems, challenges, maybe needs to bend. I know you and I had had, we've had a couple of venting sessions ourselves, but then also to be proud enough to share successes, I remember walking into your office one day and I just couldn't even, I was brimming with excitement over something amazing that had happened and I wanted to share it. And so it was a source of pride to be able to do that with you. So, you know what, I think it'd be great to talk a little bit about ways in which you've seen mentorship be successful, but also about those elements that are so in fact critical. Speaker 3 00:18:04 Yeah. Um, isn't it, it's so interesting, isn't it? I mean, I've been assigned mentors, you know, in a, in a formal program in my career that were completely pointless and meaningless and had one meeting and never went any further than that, because there wa there was no spark, there was no interest, um, from the, from the proposed mentor, almost like I have to have a mentee. So you might as well be it kind of attitude. Um, I think one of the things that I found is is that if you, as the, as the mentor are willing to be open and maybe share personal or more challenging things that you probably wouldn't share on a stage in front of a hundred people, um, I think that starts to really build trust that willingness to share, um, your own vulnerability, uh, really helps to build trust and makes, I mean, it's almost like, you know, you are giving away not quite a secret, but you know what I mean, a moment of vulnerability you're giving away something of yourself to that person. Speaker 3 00:19:08 It gives them the confidence that they actually could do the same in return. Um, and so I think, I think that's, I've found that's worked, um, well to sort of just get that, get over that first hurdle. And then of course, it's, it's conversation by conversation, um, that builds piece by piece by piece, like it does in, in any relationship. Um, and of course the point is to never do anything that breaks that trust. So one of the things I've been in situations where some mentee has wanted to talk to me about something, you know, difficult for them and, and the right next step, as far as I could see was to take it to a another person. But obviously you could only do that with the express permission of the, of the mentee who who's brought you that challenge or whatever. So, um, so I think now that, you know, making sure you never overstep, uh, you know, your, um, your own, uh, role in this, um, um, making sure you're not kind of take over or make decisions for them. Speaker 3 00:20:13 Um, I think that's been really, really important. Um, and I just think that the, the mentors I had over the years that really helped me were also people who did, were able to do quite practical things. So sometimes the smallest act can actually make a huge difference. I, I, when I was early in IBM, come in through acquisition, um, I had, uh, I had a great role. Um, I was up for promotion. There was a very formal process in Europe at that stage about promotions. And we went to this promotion board. None of them had the faintest clue who on earth I was, and on that basis, they weren't going to approve the promotion. Um, and so I got assigned a mentor on the back of that experience and he was fabulous and he said, well, we'll fix that one straight away. It's as much on them that they don't know you, but, you know, nevermind. Speaker 3 00:21:07 Well, you know, we, well let's work with what we've got. So he just started inviting me to meetings that were literally nothing to do with me just, but not even as an observer. Yeah. Because Caroline come in and you can pretend you're a consultant, you know, come into the meeting and, you know, um, and you'll meet all these people. And, um, and if you have something to contribute, then contribute to it, you know, feel free. And like, uh, he very rapidly helped me establish a network within the bigger mainstream IBM and the people who would be influential when my promotion, uh, approval came back up again. And so it was a really practical, simple thing that he was able to do by dent of his role. But, but, but, but actually made the most enormous difference. You know, I say sometimes I think a lot of it is about finding those opportunities to, to be seen. Um, I I've spent my career telling people that it's important to be fabulous, but it's probably more important to be visibly fabulous. And, and, and he, you know, well, I'm not going to claim the fabulous bit, but at least he helped me be visible. Speaker 2 00:22:13 You are fabulous. And I, you know, I love that though. And in look, I'll be quite candid. You did that for me. I came in to IBM via an acquisition. It makes it a lot harder if you don't have an advocate or a champion, somebody who, um, you know, you, you, you clearly have to have the skills, right. You can't just walk in and expect that you're going to be gifted something, but when you have those skills and you've got the capabilities, you need somebody who's going to not only believe in you, but serve as your champion within the organization, um, and then help you when you feel a little bit like, oh my gosh, can I do this right? I mean, because there, there, there was a bit of that, but, but I will tell you, I don't think I could have gotten to my role as CMO of IBM Watson without your guidance, mentorship and support. So thank you for that. And look, we, we know, I mean, research will prove out what you and I are talking, that there are myriad benefits. We know that mentored employees receive higher compensation, more promotions, they feel more satisfied in their careers. And, and this is I think, important, right? More likely to believe that they are going to advance in their careers because they've got somebody there to help Speaker 3 00:23:22 Them. That is so true, right? Speaker 2 00:23:25 It does. It makes sense. You've got someone in your corner and that person is helping you navigate the obstacles and challenges that you're facing. Speaker 3 00:23:34 You know, Michelle, I think the other thing as well, and you touched on this with somebody, who's your champion. They'll only champion you if they believe in you. Um, but having someone who believes in you is so powerful, it's such a powerful force to actually help you believe in yourself, you know, male or female. We talk about imposter syndrome, it's alive and well in most human beings at some level. Um, and, and, and that sense of having all the skills, all the experience, but not quite believing the other people will see that having somebody who reminds you, that they do see that is amazing. You know, it, it, it, it, it's an amazing thing. And so I think that championing, but that belief, um, is massively important. And as you get to, and as you get to know a mentee, I mean, the long-term mentoring relationships typically come about, um, you know, as a result of building that relationship and, and having, and having that belief and having that bond, um, you know, between you and I, and it just, you know, I, again, I found that has made the most enormous difference and those moments in your life, and I don't know, a single human being who doesn't have them as you, I can think of one, but he's a politician. Speaker 3 00:24:50 That's not they're there. Um, but you know, we all do it. Don't, we all have a doubt or sex in our minds about different things. And to have somebody in your corner who believes in you, who isn't your manager, who isn't, you know, he's not paid to do that, but actually does know what they're talking about. Cause they know you well enough and they see what you can and you can't do it. It's, it's such a powerful thing. It's such an enabling thing. Speaker 2 00:25:14 And it's so rewarding. You know, I've been fortunate enough to mentor several people, men, women. Um, I will tell you that there was a young woman who walked into my office for an executive interview. Somebody had asked if I would take an E I, and I said, of course I would. And she came in and was so just incredibly thoughtful. I didn't have a role for her at the time, but she was, it was so she was so incredibly thoughtful. She had lots of wonderful ideas. She knew what she wanted, but needed guidance and support. And she immediately said in the event that you have a job for me, I'd love to work for you in the event that you don't, I'd love for you to mentor me. And so both things believe it or not happened. I served as her mentor for a number of years. Speaker 2 00:26:08 And when I had a role, she was someone I thought of because of that bond, that relationship and that trust that we had built. And because I also was very familiar with her skills, as well as where she had gaps that we could work on together. Um, so for me, what I, I, I probably learned as much as a mentor as I have given guidance, right. It's a two way street and we're learning and we're gaining perspective. So I love, and it, and I I'm sure hopefully, you know, you'll feel the same way, but I'd love to hear what you've learned from your own mentees. And, and then, you know, I want to talk a little bit about why this is so important for organizations, why this should be an organizational imperative for organizations to invest in mentorship. Speaker 3 00:27:01 Yeah, well, I mean, absolutely. I, I would say that I haven't ever had a mentoring relationship where I've been the mentor where I haven't learned loads and I haven't benefited enormously. Um, sometimes it's just been a good laugh on a bad day, um, because Lord knows we need that. Um, so I've really, really, really, I, I don't view it in a hierarchical sense. I definitely view it as a peer to peer relationship. Um, and, and sure, we often seek mentors who are further ahead on the career journey then than we are as individuals, because you know, those people have had the experiences, but that's not always the case. And sometimes actually having a peer mentor is specifically at the same level as you is, is super helpful. Um, and you know, Michelle, you know, you and I, again, I, it's so interesting as you explore a challenge that somebody else's face is dealing with. Speaker 3 00:28:02 You learn, you learn two things. I guess you learn a little bit about yourself, about how you would think about that, especially if it's something you haven't actually had to navigate yet. So, oh, now I've navigated it in theory with Michelle. Now I know I've got, I'm a step ahead for when I have to deal with that, which is fabulous, but you also learn different stuff because there, you know, you, I think when you and I were first working together, I was in a European role. You were in a global role. So again, getting, I was able to tap into you to get, you know, your global perspective, how you, how you looked at things. I mean, it was so, you know, the, the value is definitely a two-way street. So wonderful from that perspective. The other thing that I'm a real fan of is the idea of reverse mentoring, which is some, sometimes that gets viewed as hierarchical, like a junior person mentoring a senior person at, and by the way, any chief executive listening to this, get yourself a junior mentor tomorrow now this afternoon, um, because the, the, the value of having that really great connection into what's really happening on the ground as it were, um, is, is magnificent. Speaker 3 00:29:12 So that's great, but reverse mentoring. Um, that's not necessarily hierarchical, but just people who have maybe different life experiences. So, um, when I was IBM's CMO for the UK and Ireland, uh, my boss decided that he wanted his leadership, his executive team to be, um, uh, reverse mentor, um, by, by somebody from a, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, uh, diversity and inclusion group that was different to you. So, Caroline, you don't need to be mentored about gender, but you might find it useful to be gendered, to be mentored about LGBT or, or ethnicity or disability or whatever. Um, and it was absolutely brilliant. Um, and I had multiple diverse mentors because I just found, I found the experience of, again, having that safe space to ask questions that I might be uncomfortable to ask, just, you know, randomly of people whose lived experience was different from mine, because I wasn't black because I wasn't a lesbian because I didn't have a physical disability. Speaker 3 00:30:19 Um, the lived experience of those people, those individuals was so valuable for me to learn from. And I think from their perspective, every single person that they could educate better was another, another move forward. You know, another positive, because as much as I like to think I was a very inclusive human being and I genuinely care about fairness very deeply. And so I didn't want, I didn't ever want to be treating somebody differently because of the color of their skin or, uh, or somebody said to me the other day, the amount of pigment they had, which is a great way of thinking about it. Um, I wanted, you know, but it's amazing how that one's environment makes you sometimes not realize that you, you, however, however much you try not to be, you will have those little microaggressions or, you know, um, unconscious biases, which you don't even realize you have. Speaker 3 00:31:13 And so to have somebody who really help you spot where they are, so that you can actually counter them and be kind of intentional and practice. So I, I that's, that's the other aspect of this, which I found as an experience fabulous because it, because I, again, I learned so much, and by the way, I made some great new friends as a result of it. I literally spoke to, um, uh, a, a black woman, a reverse mentor, mentee mentor to me from 2010, I think it was, I literally talked to her like four weeks ago. Um, and she reached out, we had a really great conversation. It's about, she doesn't work at IBM anymore. She's doing something completely different. She wanted to know if I'd come and speak at a thing. And of course I'll come and speak at a thing for you, Jen, you're your hair. So, and again, it was just really fascinating, just chatting where we both got to what we were thinking of doing next in our lives. Um, but again, just comparing experiences and, but having that kind of shorthand in how we talk to each other, which was, you know, so it's just fantastic. Speaker 2 00:32:15 It sounds like it. And, you know, I don't know if this necessarily counts as reverse mentoring. I do believe it's part of a trend in modern mentoring in and of itself where I have somebody, I never thought I'd consider myself a Luddite, but I have somebody who really is helping me understand and navigate social media right now. And, you know, it's, again, I never considered myself a Luddite, but, but it is so incredibly helpful because things move so quickly at a pace. And I'm not a digital native, I wasn't, you know, we won't go winter into when I was born, but let's just say I grew up before the iPhone. And so I think this notion of having somebody who, um, can help you with things that you are not necessarily best at, or can guide you through, um, areas where maybe you want to seek improvement. There is nothing that says that person has to be older or more experienced in their career. And in fact, we can learn so much from people who are fresh thinkers, maybe even just out of college and their perspective is so incredibly valuable. Speaker 3 00:33:31 Absolutely, absolutely agree. And I think that's the, that's the, that's the huge thing here is that we all need mentoring, you know, whoever you are and whatever you're doing, you will get value from having a mentoring relationship. Um, and I'm just smiling here, Michelle, because, um, you were probably the most digitally native of our leadership, uh, group in marketing. And IBM, I'm just thinking my Lord has Michelle needs help. What about the rest of us? Speaker 2 00:34:03 You know, you you'd be surprised. Um, you know, I, I do want to touch on this idea of organizational responsibility because, you know, again, data proofs or gate data shows that mentoring is good for business, but should organizations implement mentoring programs as part of their leadership development initiative? Should it, should this be formal or should it be more organic? What, what's your perspective? Because I know that IBM was very, very keen on a formal mentorship program, which I'm so grateful for. What do you think about that? Yeah, Speaker 3 00:34:41 I think, I think any company who's not doing it kind of organizationally, um, is mad. Um, it costs nothing you're using the time of the people you're already paying. So it's completely free that ought to appeal to any CFA on the planet. Um, and, and as you say, there's so much data and research to prove the value of it, um, to the individuals, but individuals who are being more successful will together make the business more successful. So there is, you know, there's nothing to not love about this. Um, I do think that you have to be a little bit careful that it does not turn into a box ticking exercise. As I say, I did have the experience of, I got assigned to somebody to be my mentor who clearly just wanted to tick the boxes, says, yes, I have five mentees or two mentees or whatever the requirement was. Speaker 3 00:35:32 So I think you have to be a little bit careful. So I think actually it, I think it's a bit of both, um, uh, declare that it's, that it's a priority, um, uh, establish, um, uh, systems or processes or whatever to enable it to happen very smoothly and easily, um, make people aware that they absolutely are entitled and encouraged to request a mentor, make people aware that they're positively encouraged to offer to be a mentor. Um, and, uh, but then there is an element of organic about it, which is don't just impose people on each other. Right. You know, um, so create an environment where it's, uh, it's strongly supported. Um, but, but, uh, but then help people to find each other. Um, you know, I guess it's the difference between, you know, arranged marriage and, and, and kind of, you know, internet dating, you know, you, people will help people put the systems in place to help people find each other. Don't just decide that person and person B are a match made in heaven. Speaker 2 00:36:37 Right. I think that's look, I, I, I couldn't agree more. I think that no matter who you are, no matter what level you are in your career, you will benefit from mentorship. And I think organizations should not only realize the value to the individual, but realize the value to the organization. And, and look again, to this day, I continue to seek out, uh, guidance advice. Um, I'll probably be calling you again soon. Um, but you know, as great leaders, you know, or the people that I look at who are great leaders, they don't stop learning and they never stopped growing. And I think that's, what's so important. Speaker 3 00:37:20 Yeah. And I think the thing is as well, I'm just sort of slightly going back to my reverse mentoring point, but it, but it really is about you got to learn. I mean, so yes, lifelong learning. Absolutely. You know, it's such a powerful thought, but there are things that are hard to know. You can't learn them from a book or an online course. Maybe you can, but they don't land in the same way. Um, there are things you learn experientially or by other people's shared experiences. So, um, I was very, uh, you know, things, sometimes you notice, like somebody says something, uh, in a, in a conversation and it really strikes you, you know, you and you, you kind of maybe note don't ever forget it. So I was talking to this rather fabulous woman, uh, and she was talking about, um, being gay or lesbian, bisexual, transgender, et cetera, uh, in the workplace, but not being out. Speaker 3 00:38:16 And what that, what that is like. Um, and she was a lesbian, a lesbian. She had, you know, she'd been out for many years, but that she'd had a whole chunk of her career and she was very successful, but she had a whole chunk of her career where she hid it. And until we were talking about, you know, the challenge that the challenges that we all know that the bringing your whole self to work is so valuable to you and to the organization. You're a part of. And so to not be able to do that is, uh, is a real constraint on both yours and your organization's success. She says something that really struck me, and that was, what's the worst thing that you could say to, uh, not out gay or lesbian colleague, first thing on a Monday morning, I literally have no idea and couldn't guess, and she said, what did you do at the weekend? Speaker 3 00:39:02 Re just really, really, really focused my mind on the fact that if you are in that situation, and of course it's much better now than it was 20 years ago, but if you are gay or lesbian, for example, and you're not out, you can't have a normal conversation, I can say to you, Michelle, oh, you know, Jerry and I did blah, that weekend, you know, we went to this restaurant or, you know, we have people around for dinner or whatever we might've done. We went for a great walk. If you have to double-check the pronouns. If you have to double check the names because you don't want people to guess, I mean, just extraordinary. And that really stopped me in my tracks. And so those kinds of learnings are so important. And when you learn them through a sh through somebody sharing their experiences in, in, in that kind of one-to-one environment, they really hit home. Speaker 3 00:39:58 And for me, that was a massively important learning, not just to never ask that question, but to be thoughtful about it, but also just to realize that the most innocuous thing, um, that might seem completely neutral and unoffensive could, could actually could actually really, um, strike somebody throw away. I just did it myself. Like three minutes ago. I tried to conjure up an analogy in my head and I used, and I used the words arranged marriage. Now I'm kind of meaning in the extreme version, but there may well be people who listen to this podcast who come from a culture where that's what they do, but it isn't a randomly arranged magic marriage. It was, their parents found the perfect person for them. I might find it strange. It's not my culture. I have no right to denigrate it because I think by the way, I actually know, I actually know a fabulous couple whose marriage was arranged by their families and, you know, 25 years old, they're still really, really happy. Um, so, you know, so it's so easy to trip over and fall into those, into those things. I great to learn not to Speaker 2 00:41:07 It is. And I think that's exactly what it is. It is, it is continuous learning. And, and I think that, um, this idea of having different mentors who can help us perhaps see those blind spots that we all have because we all have them and help us uncover the things that perhaps we could be or should be thinking of or doing better. So, so important. Um, you know, it's, it's, it's so special Caroline, for me to be doing this with you, I think we could go on forever, but I'm sure that not everybody wants to hear three hours of podcasting between you and me, but so, so we will wrap. But before we do that, I have a final question. Look, I've been doing the edge. This has been a passion project of mine since the onset of the pandemic. I think it's been a way, uh, to kind of understand the shared experience that we're all having and to talk about different issues related to what we're all seeing and feeling right now. Speaker 2 00:42:10 And when we think about the pandemic, because I think we're at a point now when we can look back, but we also have to start looking ahead. Um, it's important that we understand, I think number one, what we have learned as a result of going through the shared experience, number two, how we're applying, what we've learned and then three offer advice to others based on what we've learned and applied. So I ask of you, what have you learned about yourself? How are you applying what you've learned and in light of this conversation, what, what advice might you share, learn, apply? Okay. Speaker 3 00:42:48 I think, I think what I learned about myself is that despite the fact that I am outwardly very social, um, I've actually been very happy, not being social at all. Um, and it, and it, you know, apart from missing my beloved ones, um, I kind of got on with the not being able to go places and see people and stuff. So it's weird, but I, if you'd asked me two years ago, I would have thought that was a math thing. But, um, so I, I survived that very really well. I feel very privileged. Um, what, applying what I've learned. I think the thing for me, therefore, is to not allow myself to just settle into this virtual, uh, living where I see, see the people I really love and I'm pasty, but pretty much ignore everybody else. Um, but in the real world and just do everything virtually. Speaker 3 00:43:36 So, um, so I think that's, I think that's, uh, I think that's really important. Um, I think the advice, uh, I think the advice I would have for other people is sort of tight is linked to that, but it's, it goes a bit, a little broader maybe, um, throughout this whole experience, we were not all the same in how we react to it. Some people found the isolation so painful just because I didn't, um, I'm not, not highly isolated cause I was home with my husband, but, um, but some people found that isolation is so, so very hard. And so even when I think that the thing is to really go outside of yourself and, and see how a situation is affecting other people, not ever so easy to assume that because I'm okay, other people are okay or because I'm really struggling, everybody must be struggling or any point in between. Speaker 3 00:44:29 And actually we have to look outside and look around and be really conscious that there are multiple lenses that people look at any particular moment in time and to be respectful of those different lenses, therefore there's different perceptions. Um, and I really make sure that we allow for them in how we engage in how we interact and that, you know, that, that goes for the people who are still really strongly shielding, because they're really, really scared of this wretched virus, despite vaccination and all of that, you know, all the way to the people who are so frustrated with any kind of restriction that's still out there. And, and, and again, all the points in between. So it's just been very interesting for me to learn something about me that actually I'm, I can kind of get with, get quite comfortable with actually not having to meet lots of people all the time, which has been my life for 35 years. Speaker 3 00:45:28 Um, but to, but to really know that that isn't how everybody has responded to it. And, and therefore to really just be really conscious as a, as, as we engage virtually and as we engage a bit more in the real world, um, to, to just really remember that we all, we all react to things to stimulus differently and, and it's so important to have respect for other people's reaction because it all comes from within, you know, um, and, and so, uh, we, we have to have regard for it. It's not, you can't tell somebody that they're wrong for having one reaction versus another one. Speaker 2 00:46:05 I think, I think empathy is so incredibly important and to your point respect and then also trust. And, you know, it's, it's been a very difficult time for so many. And then we've had others who have just sort of seen the sort of, you know, been introspective and realized so much more about themselves and use the time to reflect. But I do believe that, you know, as we put together all of these, um, learnings, which by the way, I'm going to do a podcast solely on what we have, what we have learned and what we've applied in, the advice he would give. I think we're going to find that, um, there has been so much growth, um, as well as our ability to adapt. And, and so I'm, I'm, I'm grateful. I'm grateful that I get to do this and, and speak with wonderful people like you. And so, wow. And now, you know why I'm so thrilled to have Caroline serve as my mentor. And I look forward to continuing this discussion on the transformative power of mentorship and coaching. Next time when I speak with Beth Egan, executive coach and masterclass speaker, Beth, and I discuss her experience serving as an executive coach, and we put the spotlight on the importance of coaching in developing tomorrow's leaders today until next time I'm Michelle VB, this is the edge be well

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