Mentoring helps leaders develop and strengthen key leadership competencies. Mentoring is a learning partnership in which a more experienced leader, the mentor, helps to guide a less experienced leader, the mentee, in developing and strengthening leadership competencies.

Role of the Mentor

The mentor’s goal is to help mentees meet their objectives, and more specifically, to help them identify their current skills and abilities, so they can determine which ones need to be developed and strengthened in order to reach the next leadership competency level.

Mentors share their experiences, guide mentees and use several skills to ask questions that prompt the mentees to find new avenues for reflection and action.

Topics often brought to mentoring conversations:

  • People management
  • Performance management
  • Change management
  • Financial resources management
  • Client service
  • Forward planning
  • Organisational resilience
  • How to create networks, alliances throughout the organisation
  • How to leverage stakeholders in decision making

Administrative considerations

Target audience You will need to decide to what positions you would like to make mentoring available and what positions you would like to draw the mentors from.

Matching mentor/mentees You will need to decide how you want to match the mentors/mentees. Some organisations send profiles to both mentors and mentees and ask them to identify who they might be interested in working with. In some cases, those initiating the mentoring activity make these matches for the participants.

There is a wide range of facilitated processes you can use to bring groups of leaders together to explore a leadership theme important to your organization. These kinds of events support the idea that leadership is a shared responsibility, naturally embedded in the fabric of the organization.

Some of the facilitated leadership processes most often used follow.

Future Search Conference

The future search conference is usually held in a day, to a day and a half, off-site retreat. The process is designed to explore the current state, identify emerging challenges and opportunities, develop a vision for the future, draft an action plan and identify working groups of leaders for each of the key result areas in the plan.

World Café

The World Cafe is a process for bringing leaders together around questions that matter. The conversations in the World Café assume that people already have the knowledge to solve the issues they are facing and can best connect to their answers and resourcefulness when they engage in collective dialogue.

The process involves:

  • Identifying key leadership questions to explore: ask: what is the question that, if explored deeply, could give us a real breakthrough in this?
  • Inviting a diverse group of leaders
  • Engaging in collective dialogues
  • Harvesting the discoveries from these conversations
  • Action Planning & implementation
  • Feedback and assessment

Besides finding new and innovative solutions drawing on the bench strength of your leaders, the World Café also builds leaders’ capacity for:

  • Creating a climate of discovery;
  • Suspending premature judgment;
  • Exploring underlying assumptions and beliefs; and
  • Encouraging the expression of many and varied perspectives.

A resource for those who would like to introduce a World Café is: The World Café, shaping our futures through conversations that matterby Juanita Brown with David Isaacs.

Six Thinking Hats Process

The Six Thinking Hats process is one in which a group of leaders focus on an issue using parallel thinking. In parallel thinking, the whole group looks at the issue from the same vantage point at the same time. This approach contrasts with traditional brainstorming where participants bring up whatever thoughts they have at the moment. With the Six Hats approach all participants to engage in the same kind of thinking, called Hats, at the same time as follows:

  • Yellow Hat– the group looks for the advantages of a certain course of action.
  • Green Hat– they add creative ideas.
  • White Hat– they focus on the facts.
  • Black Hat– they test the strength of a new idea by looking for possible flaws or weaknesses.
  • Red Hat– they share their gut reaction to a possibility.
  • Blue Hat– they focus on the process for the dialogue itself making adjustments to support the dialogue.

Open Space

Open Space is an approach to hosting meetings, retreats, and larger leadership community events. Open Space focuses on an important objective and builds the agenda for the meeting with participants.

The approach is characterized by a few basic mechanisms:

  1. A broad, open invitation which articulates the purpose of the meeting;
  2. Participants' chairs arranged in a circle;
  3. A wall for issues and opportunities posted by participants; and
  4. A number of break-out spaces that participants move among.

According to Open Space Technology: a User's Guide and other books by Harrison Owen, Open Space technology works best when these conditions are present:

  1. A real business that is complex, such that no single person or small group fully understands or can solve the issue.
  2. High levels of diversity, in terms of the skills and the people required for a successful resolution.
  3. Much passion and real or potential conflict,which implies that people genuinely care about the issue.
  4. Real sense of urgency, meaning the time for decisions and action was "yesterday."
For all leaders to be more aware of the community of leaders A Day in the Lifewebsite could provide a profile of a typical day for a featured leader. The articles would include:

  • The story of the leader’s life journey and a key project they led;
  • High profile projects he/she is working on now; and
  • Any learning about leadership they would like to pass on.
The armchair events last 1.5 hours and feature a leader talking about a relevant leadership issue. Invitations are sent out to all leaders in the organization who can attend in person or online. The presentation is followed by a questions and answers session.

Caribbean Leadership Project
Cave Hill School of Business
University of the West Indies
Cave Hill Campus
P.O. Box 64, Bridgetown, BB11000, Barbados
+1 246 417 3152