Mentoring to develop your leadership skills

Posted in: Advice, Diversity, Networking

A survey by RSA, the executive search firm, looked at the UK life sciences industry and found that “women bring empathy and intuition to leadership” with nearly two-thirds of respondents (62 per cent) thinking that women contribute differently in the boardroom, compared to their male colleagues.  A similar proportion saw women as more empathetic, with a better insight into how decisions play out in the wider organisation and  when it came to communications and effective collaboration, “over half felt that women were better”. Studies show us that profitability improves when women take on positions of leadership in companies. So what tools can best help women move ahead?

Enter Mentoring!

A mentor can show you how to ramp up your skill-sets, network effectively and work around or eliminate your weaknesses. They can even open some very important doors to leadership positions. I found this article "What Makes a Good Business Mentor" -  Basically it summarises a mentor as someone you can trust and confide in. Someone who will give you good advice and constructive criticism. Someone who will fill the gaps in your knowledge.

So far so good, but how do you find a mentor?

  • Professional Bodies: to find a mentor in your industry contact the professional body within your field. Total Professions  provides a useful list.
  • Bath Alumni: Bath Connection links alumni with current students. You may want to consider reaching out to alumni ask for mentoring with interviews, job hunting or managing your career transitions.
  • Specialist Organisations: there are a number of organisations dedicated to connecting women with mentors, check out The Aspire Foundation, The Mentoring Foundation  and The Cherie Blair Foundation. Mentorsme has lots of useful resources too!

Finally, how do you make the most of mentoring?

  • Clear goals: before you enter a mentoring relationship, it is important to be clear about what you want and articulate your goals to your mentor. Come to meetings prepared and bring items to discuss (performance reviews, challenges at work or an interesting article you've read).  Don't expect your mentor to do all the work or spoon feed you.
  • Ask for feedback: Self-awareness is the first step in achieving any development or improvement goals. In addition to asking for feedback it is also important to be receptive to feedback.
  • Logistics: when you first meet your mentor clarify how often you'll meet, whether you can reach out to your mentor outside of the set meetings and how long you will meet for. Once you have established these boundaries, stick to them and don't take advantage.
  • Regular reviews: it is important to not only review your goals and the progress you are making as a result of the mentoring but also review your relationship with your mentor. Be prepared to recognise when the time comes and end your mentoring relationship constructively.

Our blog this week will focus on providing tips and support to our female students, this is to support the Women in Leadership Conference that is being organised by the Student Union at Bath.

Posted in: Advice, Diversity, Networking


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