Meet The Men­tors

Suc­cess­ful men­tor­ing can be an ef­fec­tive way of help­ing peo­ple to progress in their ca­reers and is be­com­ing in­creas­ing pop­u­lar as its po­ten­tial is re­alised, as two insurance heavy­weights found out when they re­cently be­came men­tors writes Michelle Worvell

Insurance - - CONTENTS -

Michelle Worvell ex­plains what men­tor­ing is not about and high­lights how suc­cess­ful men­tor­ing can ef­fec­tively help peo­ple progress in their ca­reers. Two big in­sur­ers are used as ex­am­ples to ex­plain the dif­fer­ent ef­fec­tive ap­proaches used in men­tor­ing by th­ese com­pa­nies that are quite dif­fer­ent from the con­ven­tional idea.

Meet The Men­tors

When most peo­ple think of men­tor­ing they imag­ine a sce­nario where they are coach­ing or de­vel­op­ing an in­di­vid­ual, usu­ally ju­nior to them, within their com­pany.

How­ever, when two heavy­weights from the insurance in­dus­try re­cently joined the ranks of busi­ness leader men­tor­ing spe­cial­ist Mer­ryck & Co’s UK arm – Andy Homer, non ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of Tow­er­gate and BIBA chair­man; and An­nette Court, for­mally of Di­rect Line and cur­rently non ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of both JLT and Ad­mi­ral, both wanted to give some­thing back to their fel­low CEOs. Mer­ryck has a very dif­fer­ent ap­proach in that when choos­ing men­tors it only se­lects, trains and de­ploys for­mer lead­ers who have them­selves run com­plex busi­nesses. They tend to be a CEO, pres­i­dent, or di­vi­sion leader and need at least 10 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence in those roles. Ms Court, who only be­came a men­tor in De­cem­ber, has just taken on her first client and ex­plains, “The con­cept is that we bring some­thing of our ex­pe­ri­ence – be that good or bad. We are there as men­tors to sup­port se­nior ex­ec­u­tives in their de­vel­op­ment. Gen­er­ally, I am deal­ing with in­di­vid­u­als who are very high cal­i­bre and are step­ping up to a new role or a new area of re­spon­si­bil­ity.” The client has to go through a strin­gent four step process – Scop­ing, Cast­ing, Chem­istry and the Re­treat – to en­sure they are paired with ex­actly the right men­tor for their lead­er­ship style, pri­or­i­ties and busi­ness chal­lenges. Es­tab­lish­ing the right chem­istry be­tween the client and the men­tor is vi­tal. At this stage, ei­ther men­tor or client can walk away from the re­la­tion­ship. Hav­ing jointly com­mit­ted to the en­gage­ment through the first three steps the clients then go on the Re­treat – a two-day, one-toone ses­sion with the men­tor and new client. Held away from the

de­mands foun­da­tion of for busi­ness the on­go­ing and home, re­la­tion­ship. the Re­treat It is here lays that the men­tor and client iden­tify the most crit­i­cal pri­or­i­ties fac­ing the busi­ness and the leader. They lay out an ac­tion plan and mile­stones for en­sur­ing progress against those pri­or­i­ties. It can be both lonely and tough at the top so it can be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial for th­ese high fly­ers to have a men­tor that they can sim­ply talk to and bounce ideas off. “It’s one-on-one so you form a very strong re­la­tion­ship with the in­di­vid­ual,” ex­plains Ms Court. “We are not try­ing to do their roles for them but are there to pro­vide a sound­ing board to chal­lenge them. It is very much busi­ness driven and we see our­selves as be­ing ‘blue suits’ rather than ‘white coats’. “You put a bit of your­self into it as well as some­one who has been there, done that and got the t-shirt.” She ex­plains some com­pa­nies of­fer coach­ing ser­vices that tend to be more aca­demic but that this is not the ap­proach Ms Court takes. “In my ca­reer I did have peo­ple that helped me in var­i­ous ways and gave me op­por­tu­ni­ties so this is a con­tin­u­a­tion of this. There is also the op­por­tu­nity to de­velop your­self. You are not on your own as you are part of a fac­ulty – that meets reg­u­larly to talk about dif­fer­ent sit­u­a­tions – but not in­di­vid­ual cir­cum­stances as the whole process are highly con­fi­den­tial.” Mr Homer has been a men­tor slightly longer than Ms Court, hav­ing joined Mer­ryck’s back in Fe­bru­ary last year. He cur­rently has three clients from the fi­nan­cial ser­vices, con­struc­tion and en­ergy sec­tors re­spec­tively. What par­tic­u­larly at­tracted Mr Homer to men­tor­ing was the op­por­tu­nity to be in­volved in men­tor­ing peo­ple who were not in the insurance in­dus­try. Mr Homer com­ments, “What has sur­prised me is how much the peo­ple that I am work­ing with ben­e­fit from hav­ing some­one in their cor­ner that they can trust com­pletely – who is not their boss or peer.”

… what makes some­one a good men­tor? Ac­cord­ing to Mr Homer, it is a mix­ture of hu­mil­ity, emo­tional in­tel­li­gence and cu­rios­ity. But most im­por­tantly for him it is about hav­ing pos­i­tive out­comes.

“Where do you go for the things that you can’t talk about with your boss, board or chair­man? Real lead­er­ship is a lonely oc­cu­pa­tion and you may make it for three to five years if you are lucky. Lead­ers are un­der enor­mous pres­sure and the idea of a men­tor is that they are in their cor­ner – help­ing them but push­ing them too.” Al­though he de­lib­er­ately does not men­tor any­one from the insurance in­dus­try he be­lieves there is no dis­ad­van­tage to men­tor­ing clients from other sec­tors as there are some uni­ver­sal as­pects that all CEOs face. Th­ese in­clude fu­ture strat­egy, the strength of your team, and how you get on with the board. Mr Homer says he is also sur­prised how open th­ese very se­nior lead­ers are about how they are feel­ing; as many busi­ness lead­ers carry the pres­sure, stress and lone­li­ness within them­selves. “What is re­ward­ing is when they talk about their hopes, their fears and the bal­ance that they have or don’t have in their life. Men­tor­ing brings an un­der­stand­ing and ap­pre­ci­a­tion of what they are go­ing through.” “Men­tor­ing is also about fu­ture state – we want to know where do they want to get to per­son­ally, where do they want the busi­ness to get to, what do they want the strat­egy to do? We tend to deal with pos­i­tive out­comes. What is suc­cess go­ing to look like – how is it go­ing to feel? That is a re­ally im­por­tant part of what men­tors do.” So what makes some­one a good men­tor? Ac­cord­ing to Mr Homer, it is a mix­ture of hu­mil­ity, emo­tional in­tel­li­gence and cu­rios­ity. But most im­por­tantly for him it is about hav­ing pos­i­tive out­comes. “No mat­ter who you are, or what you have achieved – men­tors can make you even bet­ter – and you can make your­self even bet­ter. What we do is help you ar­tic­u­late that and help you though the process of achiev­ing it – but at the end of the day it all comes from you.”

It can be both lonely and tough at the top so it can be ex­tremely ben­e­fi­cial for th­ese high fly­ers to have a men­tor that they can sim­ply talk to and bounce ideas off.

Lead­ers are un­der enor­mous pres­sure and the idea of a men­tor is that they are in their cor­ner – help­ing them

but push­ing them too.

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