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Share the Love

Last night, along with millions of others, I watched Yusuf/ Cat Stevens and then Elton John complete their magical performances at Glastonbury. Beyond the music, I was struck by the love that they both showed. Yusuf/Cat Stevens for the NHS, a wish for peace, and to pilgrims heading to Mecca for the Hajj. Elton used his set to showcase up and coming stars, young people that he had worked with rather than (in the main) big name stars.

The ability to share wisdom and thinking and to learn from the ideas of young people is important in all walks of life. In business, mentoring programmes are well established and I am involved as an external mentor with CMI (Chartered Management Institute) and Kilfinan. The former offers mentoring to its members, primarily those working in established businesses in the UK. The latter matches business leaders with charity CEOs. In both cases, bringing an external perspective enables me to be more dispassionate and to share experience from elsewhere to the conversation. An external voice can be valuable as part of the mix, and often successful individuals cultivate a network of supporters both within and outside their organisation.

However, I must acknowledge that mentoring gets something of a mixed reaction. Herminia Ibarra *has been a voice for saying that women don’t need more mentoring, they need sponsorship. That is someone who is able to take risks and give stretch projects to the individual. Ibarra’s recent work notes the negative impact of hybrid working for young people which makes access to more experienced colleagues even more important. She identifies two defining qualities for developmental relationships: public advocacy and relational authenticity. These are closely intertwined and rely on building deep, trusting relationships over time. This is a two-way process that involves sharing perspectives and learning from one another. This was amply demonstrated by Elton John at Glastonbury, a truly inspirational legacy.

Photo credit: Naomi Huckett.

Reference: Ibarra H., “How to do sponsorship right” Harvard Business Review, Nov-Dec 2022

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