And finally … what do we look for in mentors?
We’re expanding our mentor network.
This is some of what we look for.
1. Real expertise
The business world appears awash with business coaches, marketing gurus and mentors who, when you scratch the surface of their CV, bring very little coal face expertise to the party.
A classic journey to ‘expertise’ is to write a book, find an amazon niche, and update their linkedin profile with ‘best selling author’ and as night follows day, ’keynote speaker’.
We look for genuine experts, with strong track records, and minimal fluff.
With technical mentorship that’s a much more difficult trick to pull off but some try.
2. Wear that expertise lightly
They also need a humility and ease with what they know. Mentoring is a platform for the mentee to learn, not the mentor to dazzle.
3. Be adaptable
Each mentee is different and each mentoring relationship is unique.
Mentors need to be adaptable and have sufficient levels of emotional intelligence to understand what that mentee needs and what success will look like from that relationship.
4. Managing expectations
True of most relationships, particularly so with a mentoring one.
The initial getting to know process needs to involve some radical candor and an immediate willingness for honesty and transparency about what is possible.
Immediate management of expectations helps both parties understand the potential fit and minimises the risk of later surprises.
Establish early any non-negotiables, best times and forms of contact etc.
5. This is about people
Mentoring is ultimately about finding the right the people fit. About establishing a relationship of trust and openness. Without either element, it has nowhere to go.
We look for mentors who have been successful leaders in the past and ‘get’ people.
6. Never assume anything
We all do it. We all make assumptions.
Just looking through a linkedin profile can lead to assumptions being made about that career decisions, personality, ambition, potential.
Never go into a mentoring relationship assuming anything.
7. Be open, admit it’s a rocky path, mistakes get made
Being a tech leader or manager can be an isolated role and sometimes, the mentoring relationship is as much about providing the mentee with a sounding board and sense check that they’re not going bonkers!
It’s therefore crucial that the mentor is open and candid about their own ups and downs, that not only provides reassurance that we all have them and “you’re not alone”, but also provides the mentee with the confidence to discuss and analyse any of their own mistakes.
8. Give more, ask for less
Mentioned already but it is a core pillar of our selection and feedback process. This is always about the mentee. From start to finish.
9. Introduce to network
We don’t operate in silos, our raison d’etre is to use all the tools in our arsenal to help our mentees and subscribers progress.
Working with a CTO Academy mentor will normally give the mentee access and exposure to their wider network and the mentor will be expected wherever possible, to provide introductions where and how they think it will help the mentee.
10. Celebrate their achievements
The best mentoring relationships involve some significant emotional investment. The mentor can’t help but take the progress of their mentee very seriously and so success should be celebrated. We want to know and to hear about the achievements.
It’s writ large in our mentor agreements, “always celebrate their achievements” …
11. Lead by example
If you know someone who fits our mentoring bill, ask them to get in touch with [email protected]
Most of our mentors are heavily involved in their own projects, companies and investments. We want to see them leading by example, not preaching from a distance. It’s a journey for both.