In build up to the #Alumni500 celebration and Mentor Awards on 28 September, FoL is inviting Leaders course mentors and mentees to write about their mentoring experience and share what they’ve gained with the network. Writing this month is prolific FoL mentor and Director of Mark Baigent Consulting Ltd, Mark Baigent.
I have had the pleasure of mentoring many times on both the Future London Leaders and Leaders Plus programmes. For me, the starting point was a desire to give something back, after years of my own learning and development. Sharing the knowledge and experience of working as a senior manager and strategic leader in housing and regeneration gives me a positive sense of passing on what I’ve learned to a new generation.
I often think back to the leaders who coached and mentored me over the years, the times when I was touched, influenced and inspired to make a difference, take a risk, innovate or stick my neck out. Sometimes I also think of the people whose decisions or actions didn’t work out well, and what I learned from those consequences, the traps I resolved not to fall into myself. These exemplars from my career journey remind me how valuable my input can now be to the mentees I support.
What I also love about mentoring is how much I get from the interaction – the stimulating discussion of current challenges, seeing how mentees approach their own personal development and career opportunities in a range of different ways, the need for me to sharpen and focus my own thinking to answer their probing and perceptive questions.
Mentoring as reflection
“This reflective practice mindset then stays with me beyond the mentoring process and works its magic across my wider portfolio of work.”
Given the pressures and pace of working at a senior level, it is often easier to throw myself into the thick of getting the job done, without taking time to reflect on how effectively I am leading and influencing those around me. The great thing about mentoring is that, as well as being a sounding board for my mentee’s exciting ideas, the process inherently holds up a mirror to my own thinking and practice. This reflective practice mindset then stays with me beyond the mentoring process and works its magic across my wider portfolio of work.
Perhaps the nicest part of being a mentor is seeing the career progression of my mentees, both during and after the mentoring process. Several of the people I have supported have secured a new role during their programme. I’ve also had the joy of working years later alongside mentees who have now progressed into leadership and senior roles, witnessing them putting their learning into practice and standing out as the best adverts for the Future of London brand. That sense of recognition and pride in contributing to their growth and development is hard to beat.
So in summary, I recommend being a mentor to help keep yourself fresh and focused, to be inspired and impressed by your mentee, and to enjoy the warm glow of knowing your giveaway is feeding and sustaining the broader legacy of this fantastic network and programme.