Coaching and Mentoring, could have made a real difference in your career

Judith, my social media expert, delegated to me (rather than the other way round!) the task of looking at my own career and reflecting on how coaching/mentoring, if I had known about it, might have helped me at different stages. At the time, as I am quite resilient, I might have asked why I needed that type of support, but knowing what I know now, what a difference it could have made.

Coaching

Thinking back, I could have done with this when the Insurance Company I worked for went bust and many of us were chasing the same jobs. At that time, coaching would have helped rebuilding my confidence, allowing me to look forward rather than backwards, and also improve my interview techniques. A six-month programme would have worked well attacking these issues as I learned from each interview. Maybe I wouldn’t have said any job was fine, rather than a job I really wanted.

Six years later I was dumped as Managing Director of a company I had rebuilt with the help of my team and was unfairly let go on the same day. To get my share options and win my case in an employment tribunal (from which the company withdrew with a couple of weeks before the date of the case) I had to sit in my garden, in my own headspace, which was another difficult time for me. Maybe I needed a therapist!!!

Mentoring

Isolation/who to trust

As a leader, you don’t always know what you are walking in to. When I arrived as Managing Director, I had the demoted MD as part of my team which made it pretty impossible. In addition, who was my leadership team going to be in the long term? It took a year of severe headaches basically as I had nobody to talk to as I didn’t know who to trust. My boss visited every month and owing to the poor figures always had his head in his hands because of the pressure he had from the Board. I did not have anybody to confide in. If only I had had a mentor then.

A mentor would have been somebody to whom I could talk to confidentially, give me idea and confirm I was on the right track. They would have helped me sleep at night as I was living away from home.

Resilience and Perseverance

Living away from the family, having to give 100% of your time and brain power to the job which is in disarray means literal headaches for most of the days, with little sleep too. Sleep deprivation is one of the most difficult things to deal with. Perseverance and resilience just about got me through this period.

If only I had had a mentor a confidential sounding board from outside the company.

Trusted leadership Team

After a couple of years, I had the same boss whom I trusted, but couldn’t really share my problems with. I had a trusted leadership team. An optimist as my HR/Marketing Director, a slightly pessimistic accountant which was his job to be fair, and hopefully me as a realist. We worked so well for 3 years and are still friends now after nearly 20 years. I didn’t need a mentor for this period of time.

PLC buys PLC

After 4 years a smaller Public Limited Company (PLC) buys our PLC and the whole scene changes. The new PLC is not to be trusted and has totally different values from mine. My boss is taken out. The new PLC wants to move my office from Bournemouth to Lincoln which would have affected 70 of my excellent employees.3 MDs of different brokerages needed to work together not knowing what next. A very unsettling year for all concerned. A mentor was definitely needed.

The good news for me was this new mismanagement team paid for my coaching qualification and the office still operates in Bournemouth but under a different name. In all of these scenarios I did survive to tell the tale but how much easier it would have been to have had the right mentor.

On reflection

Occasionally it is good to look back. Certainly, during my career, I learned more during the difficult times rather than the good. CEOs and senior management do not need mentoring support all of the time, but in difficult time it helps. As managers go through the ranks occasional coaching support can speed up the process of going up the career ladder. If I can help as either a mentor or a coach, please contact neil@nvwsolutions.co.uk or have a look at my website www.nvwsolutions.co.uk

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