Mentoring – having a look at your client’s skill-set

I am plodding my way through David Clutterbuck’s book “Everyone Needs a Mentor”. Ambitiously described as UK’s number one mentoring book, the subtitle is very poignant – fostering talent in your organisation.

Talent – there are many different ways to apply this word; intelligence, nous, skill, calibre, clear thinking, and….well don’t let me stop you.

In the past week alone, I have come across this issue three times, each one in a different context.

Deborah (not her real name) has been drifting commercially for a few years. With a first degree from America, she now lives in central Israel. She has asked me to look at a new idea of hers. In one of our first discussions, I suggested that she consider what skills she has and how they can contribute to the project.

Briefly, she cut that part of our meeting, declaring the subject irrelevant. Since then, there has been progress, but it has not been rapid. But a few days ago, she found her mantra and asked me for advice aas to what kind of partners she needed.

“What kind of tasks need to be fulfilled?” I responded.

And Deborah duly walked in to my trap, when she asked if I thought she had the right abilities. I started to recall the earlier discussion re talent, and my client was stunned that she had previously ducked out of the conversation. Her face indicated that it is time for a change.

Subject number two is the engaging and – lady, Sarah. Similar to Devorah, Sarah has held a number of positions over the past few years, not all in her field. However, she has now decided to become self-employed and strike out on her own. Can I help her?

Surely, and by the way I quickly wonder: “What are you skills?” Silence! Hard and fast bemusement. It is as if the subject is either taboo or too painful for contemplation or simply the question of a lunatic.

And the amazing thing was that I actually knew the answer, which the client struggled to face up to.

Finally, I ask you to meet 37  year old, Mr Ilan Bracha, who was featured in today’s weekend paper. Ilan grew up playing football and eating fast food in a poor town, south of Tel Aviv. When he enlisted, he found his way into a crack unit.

After the army, Ilan left Israel to “try to make it” in New York. Skipping university, he learnt his business acumen on the street. 15 years later, he is considered one of the city’s most successful real estate agents. How?

Ilan Bracha recalls what the army had to teach him; be smart, think ahead of the enemy (or competition) and be aggressive.  Ilan Bracha knows what he has to offer his 117 agents and does it very well.

It is this understanding of Bracha’s – the open appreciation of his skills – that most mentors try to instill in their clients.

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