Ecologists tell us that a tree planted in a clearing of an old forest will grow more successfully than one planted in an open field. The reason, it seems, is that roots of the forest tree are able to follow the intricate pathways created by former trees and thus embed themselves more deeply. Indeed, over time, the roots of many trees may actually graft themselves to one another, creating an interdependent mat of life hidden beneath the earth. This literally enables the stronger trees to share resources with the weaker so the whole forest becomes healthier. Similarly, we humans thrive best when we grow in the presence of those who have gone before. Our roots may not follow every available pathway, but we are able to become more fully ourselves because of the presence of those who support our development. And that’s the support that a mentoring relationship offers us.
Mentoring has been around in Eastern thought for ages, most visibly in the format of the ‘Guru Shishya’ relationship. Western structuring mechanisms have converted mentoring into a modern day aligned system, most visibly in the format of formal mentoring programs.
As a leadership development practitioner, starting more than a decade back, I had the opportunity to introduce formal mentoring programs in several global corporates across industries, usually matching high potential individuals with senior leaders in the organization as a part of the talent management strategy. Most organisations then had a career path which employees based on their qualifications, talent, skills, and aptitude followed. There was the awareness even then though, that to succeed in an organization it was not just ‘What you know’ but also ‘Whom you know’. And that led to the introduction of these formal mentoring programs which facilitated the exposure of key talent to key decision makers in the organization. What I distinctly remember from these formal mentoring initiatives is that both the mentor and mentee pools were male-dominated, irrespective of the industry in which I launched the program.
Women are probably finding it difficult to raise their hands up to be both mentors and mentees, and they are also not nominated as often through formal mechanisms. I wanted to change this balance and that gave birth to THRIVE.
THRIVE for Mentoring is a global not-for-profit Mentoring initiative that I launched (with the support of a fabulous team of course) in Zurich in December 2017. We also launched a highly successful Mumbai chapter in early January 2018.
Purpose of THRIVE: Catalyze relationships globally where women support each other to succeed
THRIVE has received unprecedented support through women leaders who have registered as mentors to ‘pay-it-forward’ and emerging women leaders who are keen to receive mentorship and learn and grow.
THRIVErs commit to a year-long mentoring relationship, where they meet each other at least once a month for an hour to work on the mentoring objectives they have established in their mentoring contract. These meetings can be in-person or virtual depending on the preferences of the pair.
During the launch event of THRIVE, we hold chemistry meetings where the pre-matched mentors and mentees get to find their best fit, and we also conduct a basic training, introducing supportive documentation to ensure that the mentorship is successful. The idea is to have a couple of other events during this mentorship year to share learning’s and to celebrate the relationship.
THRIVE supports both mentors and mentees to make their relationship successful, and help each other grow through an increasing repository of ‘nudges’. These may be in the form of articles, FAQs, videos, skill development modules, community sharing experiences with each other etc.
THRIVE wishes to debunk the myths around mentoring: that it needs to be a long-term relationship, that you need to be ‘lucky’ to find a mentor, that you can have only one mentor etc. THRIVE is breaking away from the traditional definition of mentoring, from saying that a mentor is someone who is much older and far more experienced than you. We believe in finding the right match for you and the mentoring objectives you have. You may be very experienced as a senior leader in an organization, but you may be able to learn from a much younger successful entrepreneur how to go about setting your own business if you wanted to become an entrepreneur. The classic example is how to become social-media savvy, where younger mentees can do wonders for experienced mentors.
At its core, through THRIVE I wish to democratize mentoring and make this possibility available to many instead of a few privileged women globally. It is my strong belief that a mentoring relationship is about finding ‘a good enough’ match, there is nothing like the ‘perfect mentor’ out there, but there are many ‘good enough’ mentors, and ‘good enough’ mentees.
And when these committed mentors and mentees come together catalysed through the THRIVE matching mechanism, the mentoring magic begins.
Join THRIVE’s mentor-mentee matching events from 9 am to 12 noon on 23 July in Hyderabad.
Where: Phoenix Arena, TSIIC Park, Opposite to HSBC Phase 2, HITEC City, Hyderabad, 500081
For more information visit, Thrivewithmentoring.com
This article has been submitted to Yo! Vizag by THRIVE