The benefits of mentoring

Leadership 2025 is the intensive Business school led leadership programme aimed at senior BME managers. An important element is the mentoring programme, with sector leaders acting as mentors.

The benefits of a mentoring programme have been well recorded, but here we hear from Chyrel Brown, a Leadership 2025 participant and her mentor, Carol Mathews from Riverside, to find out more about how they have found the experience.

How have you found the experience?

Chyrel has had a very positive experience, been challenged effectively by her mentor. Chyrel comments, “Carol has provided the space to talk through a challenge in a safe environment. She has been very good at getting me to focus on where I want to go, not just at where I am.”

For Carol, she has loved the experience of being able to share her experiences. Carol says, “Both of us come from a housing management background, so we have had a number of long conversations on this.”

How have you approached the mentoring programme?

Chyrel did a lot of preparation for the sessions to really identify what she would like from a mentor, which helped to add structure and focus to the sessions with the mentor. The underlying theme she wanted to develop was how she can utilise her mentor to bridge the gap between the operational and strategic thinking.

Carol has given insights of her personal journey, being very honest and open, and invited Chyrel to her organisation and to add senior leadership meetings for her to shadow.

She has provided a very practical approach, providing tips and sharing her lessons learnt, and sending things for Chyrel to read.

What have you gained/learnt from this and what has the impact been on you?

Chyrel has also become a board member in another small housing association, which Carol provided a foundation to build on.

She gained a lot of practical tips from Carol, which has helped to grow her personal confidence and greater self-awareness of her strengths and she knows where she is heading. She is now taking her learning in working with her peers and applying it to her day job.

For Carol, she felt the mentoring provided an opportunity for her to unlock a lot of things that she had forgotten and a useful trip down memory lane. She also benefitted a lot from reverse mentoring, learning from Chyrel.

What lessons/ tips for do you have for others looking to be a mentee or a mentor?

Chyrel’s tips:

  • Be clear on what you would like to get out of the mentoring sessions. Keep the sessions focused and make time in your diary for regular sessions
  • Accept that the learning journey is your own, your mentor will guide you but not sort it out for you
  • Be open to address your challenges and accept the criticism, it’s the only way that you will learn
  • Do not be afraid to ask for help, but think about why you are asking for it

Carol’s tips:

  • Really listen to your mentee (listen with both your ears and eyes)
  • Be clear with what you want to talk about and focus on
  • Don’t expect to walk away with all the answers. It is more like an experience and your mentee can gain a lot of insight through experiences
  • Open communication channel and candid conversations go a long way

Chyrel and Carol are proof that coaching and mentoring can be beneficial for both mentee and mentor in learning new and different things.