From the Women Ahead team
Flagship Mentoring Masterclass Summary & Next Steps
It was wonderful to see so many of you at our recent ‘Setting Direction’ Women Ahead Masterclass, kindly hosted by Ricoh. The event could not have been more practical, diverse or inspiring in content, and left us all with much to think about and, most importantly, that we can apply to both our day-to-day work, and our flagship mentoring partnerships.
Once again, we were privileged to hear from some incredible speakers on a range of topics. Olympic Medallist Sarah Winckless shared a fascinating and humorous keynote on the role that confidence and self-belief played in her journey as an elite athlete. She spoke openly about her early ambitions to become a discus thrower and the disappointment she faced around this before being discovered for her natural ability as a rower; at first in a ‘walnut’ boat, later as no. 5 in the Cambridge rowing crew and ultimately as part of the Bronze Medal sculling pair at the Athens Olympic Games in 2004. Her key message was on the value of optimism and setting challenging goals. She also talked about the positives that can be gained from the challenging times we go through.
"It is ok to doubt yourself, as this pushes you to be better. Resilience is key. The moments when you are down teach you the most"
Rachel Ellison MBE, our senior expert in coaching and mentoring, led a highly interactive session on listening skills for mentoring. As delegates we were encouraged to put into practice the important art of ‘relaxed’ and ‘fully present’ listening so that the sharer is put at ease. Working in pairs and in triads, we had the valuable opportunity to try out our own listening, and to give feedback to one another on the experience.
Jo Gray, who has played a key role in supporting the flagship mentoring programme, shared some updates on the initiative so far, (we now have 55 matched pairs and some great partnerships with a range of corporates and sporting bodies). Building on Rachel’s session, Jo provided some practical tips for mentors and mentees. For mentees this focused on thinking more about setting direction, about what success would mean to you in your working life, and about how mentoring can support this success. For mentors, the advice included reflecting on your conversation style: how directive or non-directive is your approach? She reminded us all that it is ‘often easier to tell, than to ask,” highlighting that asking and listening in tandem are the mentoring skills that will support our mentees most effectively.
Finally, Dr. Zella King, our consultant expert in networks, and a recognized authority on how leaders build their networks in a structured, purposeful way, encouraged us to think about how we can use our networks to support our mentoring partnerships. “High performers have certain network characteristics”, she said. “For example, they will have more connections outside of their department or organisation than others.” She also provided food for thought around how we might build our own ‘personal boardrooms’, and potentially share our thinking around these in our mentoring relationships. Zella is offering complimentary access to this networking tool until the end of March.
To take advantage of this opportunity, go to mypersonalboardroom.com and register with the code Women2015 before 31 March.
Our next Masterclass will take place in June. We will be focusing on ‘Progression & Perspectives’ as a theme and will have some exciting speakers. Further details will be circulated soon.
In the mean time for those of you who were at the event, we would value your feedback to help us improve the next gathering!
by Liz Dimmock.