Journey of a LEAD mentor by Mick Broekhof,
cofounder of LEAD Network & Managing Partner of Kalypso
This article is companion to Journey of a LEAD mentee by Beverly Peeling that appeared in the March issue of this newsletter.
Mentoring works remotely
Beverly and I never met in person until the annual event in Amsterdam, ten months after we first introduced ourselves over the phone. During our monthly calls there was never a moment that I missed seeing the other person’s body language. It never came up. The distance may even have helped reinforce the confidentiality of what we discussed.
Mentoring works across companies
Most companies have an internal mentoring program. So, what’s the benefit from working with an external mentor? My experience is that dynamics between external mentor and mentee are different: the tone is freer, no internal politics, and there is an outside perspective. Eventually, my mentee Beverly hit on a combination that fit her best: an external mentor and an internal sponsor to support her.
Mentoring works across cultures
It’s only a 50-minute flight from Amsterdam to London but the Dutch and English cultures could be from different planets. I was initially concerned that the subtleties of the English language would go right past me. But the matching of Beverly (who describes herself as “very direct”) and myself (“very Dutch”) was perfect and proved that matching personalities is more important than matching cultures.
Mentoring takes courage
When we started our first discussions, I felt pressure to say the right thing, share only pearls of wisdom. I remember I was very quiet in the beginning, afraid that if I said something wrong I would disappoint the mentee. In retrospect probably just the right thing. Beverly had the time to explain and I could ask a few questions for clarification. After that phase, I thought to try and share with her how I had experienced a similar situation and dealt with it, sometimes with bad and sometimes with good outcomes. Also scary. But Beverly encouraged me with her responses and that helped me be more confident.
Mentoring is fun
The turning point in our mentor-mentee relationship was the discussion about ‘going out of your comfort zone’. Can you go to the C-suite for support or ask a functional VP for counsel? When a mentee comes back next call and says, I did it and it was so much easier than I thought, it’s a big smile day.
Mick Broekhof with cofounder Helayne Angelus