18 June 2019

UKFast leaders - mentoring and growthOne of the questions that I am most commonly asked is how do you build the leaders of the future?

At UKFast, the majority of our senior management layer have developed and grown through the ranks of the business to their current positions. Only two of the board of directors are people we’ve brought in, the rest are either Gail or myself, or people who have developed into that role.

So how does that happen? How do you recognise and nurture those leadership qualities?

Firstly we always take people out of their comfort zones – usually up a mountain in the Snowdonia National Park. Here, people have nowhere to hide who they really are, like they could in interviews. It’s wonderful to get to know people properly. You very quickly see which people support teammates who may need an extra hand, which are the people who chase to the front to win, and which are those who are happy in the middle of the pack.

Each of these three types of people have huge value in your organisation, each for different reasons. For me though, the sign of a future leader is the fact that instead of chasing to the front, they drop back to support their teammates. This is the single most valuable trait that any leader can have, and you could argue that that is not something that can be taught.

However you can quite simply show someone the principles that are valued the most. How? Mentorship.

Involve me and I learn

When you dedicate time with your team and senior leaders, they learn from you. They see you in action, they see how the business works behind the scenes which helps them to understand why the core values of the business are so important day to day.

We have a quote on the wall of our training and education centre, reportedly to have been said by Benjamin Franklin. It reads: “Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.”

Mentoring enables you to include people in the growth of the business. I have learned that there is little more motivating for teammates than knowing that they are valued. And the greatest way to do this is to do give them something for more valuable than money: time.

This week I am excited that we have launched the latest round of our mentoring programme, led by Tech Manchester. This morning the mentors and mentees met one another, having been matched based upon what the mentees would like to learn and the skills of the mentors. However this is very much a two-way partnership. Mentors inevitably come away having gained just as much insight as the mentee.

If you ever need any support setting up a mentor programme, Trish and Nicola at Tech Manchester have an incredible formula to really make the most of any partnerships, drop them a message on social media.

What’s your experience in growing leaders within your business? Let me know in the comments below.

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