Life and Lessons for and by next CEOs

Journal, Mentor

Mentoring 1.1

My highly anticipated mentor-ship session had arrived, and I joined my mentor, Mr B for what is to be the shaping of my new career and future into the life of executive management. I have chosen my mentor based on that he had strongly encouraged me in my journey towards my MBA, and is currently the business development executive of a leading software organisation.

In fact we had gotten off to an earlier start on a previous occasion when we met for a casual lunch and he had introduced me into the concept of Critical Incident Logs (CIL) also known as activity analysis, CIL is a form of reflective writing with the primary purpose being to reflect on a situation or incident, and attempt to establish an objective opinion as detailed as possible. This in turn will enable a person to identify behavioural patterns not only in oneself, but in the other stakeholders involved. It is important to not only capture what was done wrong, but critical to include the emotions felt and the lessons leant from the experience.

Very early in the mentoring sessions, we had discussed the point of trust, and that we should fully trust one another as this would be the foundation of the mentorship. We had a general discussion around what I expected from the mentoring sessions, and what I was expecting from it. We discussed some of the expectations based on a book that he had bought and encouraged me to read the book to broaden my understanding of mentorship. The Book: Mentoring 101 – J C Maxwell. As one of my homework task, I had to define a list of my outcomes and goals of the mentoring sessions.

One of the interesting topics (mind you, all the topics are interesting) that we had discussed, was the difference in the perception of each person to the same situation could be vastly different due to different aspects of their history. For an example we discussed the difference between somebody who was brought up in a strict conservative environment and was taught to believe that certain behaviours in children are unacceptable, versus somebody brought up in an environment that embraces a child’s free spirit and total innocence and enthusiasm to life. Imaging the discussion debate that might pursue if these two would be to confront each other. My mentor explained to me that one should always imaging a situation from all sides and try step out of the situation and attempt to analyse all the factors that played a role in the situation. In this he highlighted that there could be potential unconscious influences like a third person that might have walked past and said something totally unrelated to the situation, but his mere presence potentially had an impact on the situation, or he might have said something that inadvertently sparked a thought in one of the participants within the situation, resulting in a change in the outcome of the pattern of thought, and inevitably the situation.

The age old concept of Root Cause Analysis came up and the 5 Whys were discussed. Every time one needs to make a difficult decision, or has to deal with a difficult situation, you can justify your reasoning with a string of whys. Josh Kaufman in his book The Personal MBA, states that one should keep asking “Why” until you get to the true answer “Because I want to”. Once you reach this point, you should have established the root cause. This brought the conversation back to the perception of goals, and the difference of each person’s goal however closely they may seem to be related. What is your perception of success was the big question asked. I will be lying if I said that I knew what I regarded as success. Is being super rich the epiphany of success?

What stops people from achieving success? Is it that they are in fact afraid of succeeding, maybe afraid of stepping out of their comfort zone. What causes people to act in the way that they do? One of reasons that came up was “Avoidance of conflict” which we identified as one of the core factors of my own personality. This became another part of my homework. I was tasked to execute a root cause analysis on why I displayed this trait in my personality. I had to dig deep and scratch right into my early childhood days.

Tipping the bucket on conflict control, was the PAC – Parent, Adult, Child Ego model by Eric Berne and how  these different levels play their role in communication and can have a tremendous impact and could even induce conflict situations. When analysing conflict situations, it can greatly improve one’s understanding of the situation and the behaviour of some of the people involved. for a detailed explanation of the PAC model click here. As part of leadership qualities, one needs to understand when and where it is appropriate to consciously switch between these levels of ego and communication. A leader should be humble but firm.

During this first period of mentorship, I was working on some business concepts and had enlightened my mentor into the details of these ideas. He showed interest in the ideas and felt that I should dig deeper and continue developing them into business plans. So in the near future you might just see me posting details on these ventures. As for now, I have requested that my mentor take me along to future visits with clients, with this I entail to feed off his experience and hopefully become a familiar face in the circles of the executives.

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