Leadership When It Matters Most: Should Mentoring Be a Part of the Equation? – Part 1

Leadership is a critical component of any organization’s success, and it is never more apparent than in times of crisis or when important decisions need to be made. Whether it’s navigating a global pandemic, facing financial hardships, or dealing with a major industry disruption, effective leadership can make all the difference. But what role does mentoring play in leadership when it matters most? Should leaders prioritize mentorship during challenging times? This article explores the intersection of leadership and mentoring and highlights the benefits of incorporating mentoring into leadership practices during crucial moments.

The Importance of Leadership During Critical Times

Leadership is not just about guiding a team during smooth sailing; it’s about steering the ship through turbulent waters. When an organization faces a crisis or is confronted with a significant decision, strong and visionary leadership becomes paramount. Effective leaders must inspire confidence, provide direction, and offer solutions when the going gets tough. They must also maintain morale, communicate transparently, and adapt swiftly to changing circumstances.

Leadership, however, is not solely about the person in charge but extends to the team as a whole. Leaders are tasked with developing the skills and capabilities of their team members to ensure the organization can overcome challenges collectively.

The Role of Mentoring in Leadership

Mentoring is a practice that involves an experienced individual (the mentor) guiding and supporting a less-experienced person (the mentee) in their personal or professional development. While mentoring is often associated with career growth and skill-building, it also plays a crucial role in leadership development, particularly during times of crisis or important decision-making.

Here are some reasons why mentoring should be a part of leadership when it matters most:

  1. Knowledge Transfer: Mentoring allows experienced leaders to share their wisdom, knowledge, and expertise with emerging leaders. During critical moments, this knowledge transfer can be invaluable in making informed decisions and navigating complex situations.
  2. Emotional Support: Leadership during challenging times can be emotionally taxing. Mentoring provides a safe space for leaders to discuss their concerns, fears, and uncertainties with a trusted mentor, which can help alleviate stress and improve decision-making.
  3. Skill Development: Effective leaders possess a wide range of skills, including communication, adaptability, and problem-solving. Mentoring provides an opportunity for mentees to develop these skills under the guidance of experienced leaders.
  4. Accountability: Mentoring relationships often involve setting goals and tracking progress. This accountability can be particularly beneficial during high-stress periods, ensuring that leaders stay focused on their objectives.
  5. Perspective and Feedback: Mentors can offer valuable outside perspectives and honest feedback, helping leaders make more informed decisions and avoid potential pitfalls.

Read my next blogpost where I write more about this theme.

How to be relevant at work in the future

It’s not just about keeping up with technology. Interpersonal skills will be at least as valuable to companies in the years to come

Yvonne Fosser wrote that in the new business magazine in Norway called AW (Asking Why).

I totally understand what she thinks and I really agree, and together with being update on your field of expertise. I got five tip for always stay relevant. And my tip no. 5 is maybe a bit strange, but if you have been in the business for a long time, try to get a young person to be your mentor. It’s called reverse mentoring.

1. Take responsibility, then you will get opportunities and you will gain trust.

2. Be constructively critical. Management needs input on what can go wrong, and suggestions for improvements

3. Be an active co-worker

4. Help your colleagues

5. Get a mentor, if you have worked for a long time consider reversed mentoring.

Executive coaches help CEOs perform and survive

An article from Ray Williams in Financial Post

The job of a chief executive has never been more challenging or rewarding. Despite generous compensation, perks and attention it can be a lonely one. Which may be why boards and chief executives are increasingly turning to executive coaches to assist the heads of companies in their performance and growth and reduce attrition.

While earlier generations managed without coaches, leaders today face more pressures than at any other time. They must deal with rapidly changing markets, technologies and workforces, increased financial and legal scrutiny … and more. Top executives who feel that they can handle it by themselves are more likely to burn out, and make poor or no decisions, resulting in significant loss of opportunities, human resources and financial resources.

The CEO’s job is unique from several perspectives: No one else needs to hear the truth more, yet gets it less from employees; no one else is the focus of criticism when things go wrong; no one else is the final decision maker on difficult and often lose-lose decisions; and no one else enjoys the same type of hero-celebrity status and rewards.

According to the Harvard Business Review, two of every five new chief executives fail in their first 18 months on the job. And it appears the main reason for failure has nothing to do with competence, knowledge, or experience, but rather with hubris, ego and a leadership style out of touch with today.

Sydney Finkelstein, author of Why Smart Executives Fail, researched several spectacular failures during a six-year period. He concluded that these chief executives had similar deadly habits chiefly related to unchecked egos. David Dotlich and Peter C. Cairo, in their book, Why CEOs Fail: The 11 Behaviors That Can Derail Your Climb To The Top And How To Manage Them, present 11 cogent reasons why leaders fail, most of which have to do with hubris, ego and a lack of emotional intelligence. Call it overconfidence or ego, but powerful and successful leaders often distrust or feel they don’t need advice.

A study by Kelly See, Elizabeth Wolfe Morrison, and Naomi Rothman, published in Organizational Behavior and Human Decision, concluded one characteristic of powerful and successful leaders is high levels of self-confidence. Unfortunately, the researchers say, the higher the self-confidence, the less likely these leaders are open to advice and feedback. They also note that powerful leaders seldom get useful feedback at their organizations. See and her colleagues contend that the enormous stress leaders are under often produce anxiety, fear and physical illness, which strong leaders are hesitant to divulge over concern judgments may be made about their capacities.

One reason for this leadership crisis may be the gaps between how leaders see themselves and how others see them. Call it self-awareness. These blind spots can be career limiting. The wider the gap, the more resistance to change. It also makes it difficult to create a positive organizational culture where openness and honesty are encouraged.

Paul Michelman, writing in the Harvard Business Review Working Knowledge, says most major companies now make coaching a core of their executive development programs. The belief is one-on-one personal interaction with an objective third party can provide a focus other forms of organizational support cannot. A 2004 study by Right Management Consultants found 86% of companies used coaches in their leadership development program.

Marshall Goldsmith, a high-profile coach to leaders in Fortune 500 companies and author of The Leader of the Future, argues leaders need coaches when “they feel that a change in behaviour — either for themselves or their team members — can make a significant difference in the long-term success of the organization.”

Eric Schmidt, chairman and chief executive of Google, said his best advice to new CEOs is to have a coach“Once I realized I could trust him [the coach] and that he could help me with perspective, I decided this was a great idea…” he said. While he admits the cost of executive coaches, particularly a good one, is not cheap, he adds “compared to the decisions CEOs make, money is not the issue.”

“If you have a new perspective, if you feel better with your team, the board and the marketplace, then you have received real value,” Schmidt says.

Executives who rise to the C-suite do so largely based upon their ability to consistently make sound decisions. However while it may take years of solid decision-making to reach the boardroom it often times takes one bad decision to fall from the ivory tower. The reality is that in today’s competitive business world an executive is only as good as his/her last decision, or their ability to stay ahead of contemporaries and competitors,” Mike Myatt writes in an article, The Benefits of a Top CEO Coach.

Despite its popularity, many senior executives are reluctant to report they have a coach, says Jonathan Schwartz, former president and chief executive of Sun Microsystems, who had an executive coach.

While board members can be helpful, most leaders shy away from talking to the board about their deepest uncertainties, argues John Kador, in CEO Magazine. Other CEOs can lend an ear, but there are barriers to complete honesty and trust. “No one in the organization needs an honest, close and long-term relationship with a trusted advisor more than a CEO,” writes Kador, who reports conversations with several high-profile CEOs.

The much asked question about coaching is its return on investment. The majority of studies including one by Joy McGovern and her colleagues at  research firm Manchester, indicate that executives who received coaching valued the service between $100,000 and $1-million. Joyce Russell, the Dean of the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland contends that assigning a coach to an executive is nowviewed as a privilege and a sign the organization values the executive’s contributions and is willing to invest money in his or her growth and development.

In my Financial Post articles, Top Dogs are Lonely,The Second Fastest Growing Profession and The Seven Deadly Habits of CEOs, I outlined what is now common practice for chief executives — hiring a personal executive coach — and how it helps them perform better. Professional executive coaches can help leaders improve performance, reduce or eliminate their blind spots and be open to constructive feedback, not only reducing the likelihood of failure, and premature burnout but also providing an atmosphere in which the executive can express fears, failures and dreams.

Ray Williams is President of Ray Williams Associates, a company based in Vancouver providing leadership training and executive coaching services. He can be reached at ray@raywilliamsassociates.com

Can mentoring and entrepreneurship solve Africa’s Problems?

Iqbal Z. Quadir state in an article at the website to John Templeton Foundation (WEB) that African entrepreneurs are the key to solving Africa’s development problems. It is they who can drive their continent’s economic growth and it is they who can make their governments better. If money is invested engaging the organic and transformative potential of local entrepreneurs, Africa will flourish. If money is poured into government bureaucracies – which hold back these entrepreneurs – Africa will continue to languish.

 So maybe we can just say that entrepreneurship is the new aid?

In February 2013 Alejandro Chafeun wrote an article in Forbes called:

“From Aid to Enterprise: How to intelligently cure poverty”. In the article he talks about creating lasting solutions to poverty, and that is what entrepreneurship is all about.

In October 2013 Innovation Africa wrote about an project in Kampala, Uganda were two-dozen entrepreneurs from every corner of East Africa to live under the same roof for five weeks in Kampala, Uganda. There, they receive training from 50 mentors and form relationships with dozens of potential investors.

Unreasonable East Africa is replicating a successful model called the Unreasonable Institute. This model is based in Boulder, Colorado and has had tremendous success. 82 companies have attended the Unreasonable Institute in Boulder the past four years. In total, these 82 companies have raised more than $30 million in funding, and 74% of them have secured funding within 6 months of attending the Unreasonable Institute.

East Africa boasts hundreds of startups that open shop each year. Many of them, however, fail due to a lack of experience, resources, tools and connections before they reach profitability. “We exist to help startup entrepreneurs to get over these hurdles,” says Joachim Ewechu, CEO Unreasonable East Africa.

Read the whole article her http://www.innovationafrica.org/2013/10/wanted-east-africas-most-unreasonable-entrepreneurs/

So for me with over 20 years working with entrepreneurship an over 12 years working with mentoring, my mind is set on combining those two must be the best solutions. You can have the best idea ever, but no network or/and a mentor, the chances for your business idea is not the best. But with a mentor the chances is increasing.

That’s why I became a part of Innovation Africa with my friend and partner Francis Stevens Georg. And the first country to work in is Sierra Leone.

So Francis (who was born in Sierra Leone), why Innovation Sierra Leone?

Well, when you take a walk down the streets of Freetown or some of our major towns and you see plenty of idle hands, young idle hands. What is amazing is that many are energetic, creative and full of ideas. These are the people with the solutions to our problems; they are the sources of innovative ideas and economic growth. We need to create a space, a platform for them to blossom! This is why I founded Innovation Africa. In addition;

  • Economic Development and Innovation are inextricably linked
  • The need to develop entrepreneurship and the private sector in Sierra Leone
  • The need to accelerate promising innovations
  • The need to enhance and manage Innovation in both the public and private sector

Challenges in social services, environment, education, agriculture and business calls for an innovation imperative

Entrepreneurship and Innovation requires less capital than it used to be!
 The technological opportunities for Entrepreneurship and innovation makes it possible to build great and sustainable solutions without the need for huge capital investments

Iqbal Z. Quadir is the founder of GrameenPhone in Bangladesh, and founder and executive director of the Legatum Center for Development and Entrepreneurship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

His article her   http://www.templeton.org/africa/essay_Quadir.html

Dr. Alejandro A. (Alex) Chafuen ’84 is president of the Atlas Economic Research Foundation and a member of the board of advisors for The Center for Vision & Values at Grove City College. (The opinions expressed by the author are his own and do not necessarily reflect those of Grove City College, Atlas Economic Research Foundation, or their boards of trustees.)

His article her     http://www.forbes.com/sites/alejandrochafuen/2013/02/20/from-aid-to-enterprise-how-to-intelligently-cure-poverty/

To learn more about Unreasonable East Africa, visit www.unreasonableeastafrica.org.

Innovation Africa is her  www.innovationafrica.org

10 ways to make the most of your Facebook business page

Got a Facebook business page but not sure how to make the most of it each day?

I think that was one of my questions to my webmaster also, It´s not easy to be in every channel on the internet at all times.  And I must admit that I sometimes forget to write something, not only at my facebook business page, but also on my blog, twitter, Pinterest, Instagram and all others, that is SO important… And my replay is that I will always try to be better, I will do it even better tomorrow.

And if you are struggling with the same issues, look no further. Here are the tip that will convince you to be even better tomorrow. So if you use BT Market Solutions simple checklist you can see when to update your page, what to update it with and also some tips for increasing engagement.



Types of Mentoring

The Sodexo 2013 Workplace Trends concludes with different types of mentoring and say that new approaches to mentoring can empower workers to direct their own career development in greater ways. Here are some different types…

Topical mentoring
Topical mentoring leverages both the expertise of leaders and the collaborative experience of other learners. One or more advisors lead numerous learners in conversation, knowledge sharing, and practical application related to a specific learning topic or around a point of affinity. People can find or create learning groups on their own, or organizations can manage the process. People learn from the advisors and from other learners, helping to build deep expertise across the enterprise.

Situational mentoring
Situational mentoring gives individuals a way to address immediate learning needs with one or more advisors. Several people can offer solutions and ideas at the same time so that learners get quickhitting answers on a high-impact issue, problem, challenge, or opportunity within a short amount of time. Learners then synthesize this knowledge into a solution that fits their need and bring that solution back to their job in a timely manner.

Peer mentoring
Peer mentoring connects colleagues at the same hierarchical level in the organization but who may be in different functions or divisions. Learning relationships of this sort are particularly beneficial because peers can be a great source of social support and encouragement. They understand and experience the same organizational pressures based on position in the organization, and can provide breakthrough insight and advice from someone who truly gets it.

Reverse mentoring
Reverse mentoring places those who would typically be considered advisors into the learner role, and those typically considered learners into the advisor role. Reverse mentoring often exposes organizational leaders to new trends in technology, new ideas and innovations, and new perspectives of younger generations, while also bringing bright young minds to the attention of seasoned leaders.

Open mentoring
Open mentoring programs that promote self-directed relationships allow people to address their own learning needs in a manner of their choosing, while still aligning with overall organizational goals. Using technology to facilitate distance mentoring lets people collaborate with one or more mentoring partners on a global basis and allows the programs and mentoring networks to grow organically throughout the entire organization.


Both open mentoring programs and reverse mentoring is old news, but interesting enough. I have been in this business over a decade and been doing both reverse mentoring and open mentoring programs and I know they works.

How did we come to this?

This new mindset around mentoring is not a fad or “flavor of the month” type of HR process; it is an emerging approach to enterprise-wide self-directed development. It is the natural evolution resulting from people’s desire to connect with and learn from others, and the organization’s desire to have a better understanding of the impact and ROI of learning and development processes. It is what both individuals and organizations have been asking for, without really knowing what to call it.


Modern mentoring is fast becoming a must-have solution for companies of all sizes. Those organizations that wait too long to make the transition to the modern view of mentoring will find themselves struggling to retain and find talented employees who feel they can grow with the company. 


Generational Views on Mentoring Traditionalists (born between 1922 & 1945)
are hardworking, loyal to their organization, and respectful of those in authority. They want learning that is predictable, practical, and delivered by experts. They also need to share their experience and expertise with others to feel valuable.

Baby Boomers (born between 1945 & 1964)
believe in participative management and work hard for personal gain. They want to be involved in learning that has an immediate payoff to their job. They need more help in developing the complex relational skills involved in leadership.

Gen Xers (born between 1965 & 1980)
tend to be skeptical of those in authority and seek a better work/life balance. They are also often fiercely independent and have more of an entrepreneurial spirit. They want learning that is collaborative, peer driven, and relationally balanced. They need help settling on a career path that is both challenging to them and fits the needs of the organization.

Millennials (born between 1981 & 2000)
are hopeful, multi-tasking Web-surfers. They want learning that is on-demand but highly social and network oriented. They need help learning the foundational skills and social awareness needed to be effective in the organizational culture. Due to the exposure and ready access that they have had to information and resources as they have been educated, they don’t have patience for learning processes that take too long.

This is so very interesting and I can´t wait to be a part of the future of mentoring, with more than a decade of experience I am all for the future…

Tehcnology in modern mentoring

The last blog post from Sodexo´s 2013 Workplace Trends called: Modern Mentoring, some of the big thing was modern technology brought to mentoring. In this blog post I will talk more about the technology.

Technology plays a large role in enabling this to happen because it allows organizations to view mentoring as a “for the masses” practice that harnesses the collective knowledge, skills, abilities and passions of an

organization’s entire workforce. Employees can create their own personal learning and advising networks that grow and flex as their individual needs and strengths change. This adaptability means insights are shared and applied on the job in a just-in-time manner, with people seeing real work results from their mentoring activities.

Adults want to drive their own learning, and as they address their own personal real-time learning needs by connecting with colleagues from anywhere in the organization, they are in control of their learning. These

knowledge-sharing connections help break down silos and spread expertise and innovation quickly across the enterprise, which can spark new solutions and creative ideas among employees that they can then bring to the job.

An ideal mentoring and knowledge-sharing network is:

• 5-15 people

• Learners and advisors come from across functions, locations, generations, etc.

• People shift in and out of the network and of the roles themselves, as learning needs and knowledge strengths evolve, creating a diverse, fluid and dynamic network


The diverse networks that people form can help them generate creative solutions, novel ideas, and unique approaches to organizational problems or issues they are facing. In fact, researchers Christoph Lechner, Karolin Frankenberger, and Steven W. Floyd found that among colleagues who are collaborating for work, the more diverse the networks were in terms of values and viewpoints, the more they increased their performance


In light of this result, organizations looking to foster and encourage major creative solutions and thinking among workers, as well as innovative improvements in current processes throughout the business, would do well to encourage more diversity in individual learning networks. This type of inclusive knowledge sharing thrives at Sodexo, where they actively support learning connections across generational, geographical and organizational boundaries.