COACHING AND MENTORING – ITS CRITICALITY AND IMPORTANCE

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NIRANJAN GIDWANI

CONSULTANT DIRECTOR | MEMBER UAE SUPERBRANDS COUNCIL 

NIRANJAN GIDWANI, CONSULTANT DIRECTOR | MEMBER UAE SUPERBRANDS COUNCIL 

In the past seven to ten years, which have been the most disruptive on several global fronts, thousands of CEOs, senior managers, heads of educational institutions across the globe have retired from the corporate world and from their respective fields at the young age of between 60 – 65 years. Most of them have spent almost four decades in specialized and general management positions across large and small corporations, elite institutions across various parts of the globe. 

With health, medical care and wellness having attained significantly better levels, it is becoming apparent that, at this stage of their lives,  these leaders, heads and educationists clearly have at least another five to ten years of work inside them. A large majority of these people know what it is like to run businesses, to run institutions, and to tackle the challenges of building businesses. Over their almost four decades of work, they have gained functional expertise in strategy, finance and accounts, budgeting, packaging, branding, sales, human resources, governance, legal matters, and they have “been there and done that” in the areas of general management.

If one were to look at the last 50 years of the development of the world, and then closely observe just the decade, a few things that are all coming together at the same time are:

  • All those entrepreneurs and business owners who started 50 years ago in their mid to late 20s, are now coming close to their mid to late 70s. Quite a few of these are in exit mode, or planning their exit.
  • Major gaps in thinking processes of the previous generation of owners and their educated and tech-savvy children
  • Supply chain, distribution, channel management, brands wanting direct presence and more control – all possible mutations have sped up
  • Rapid onslaught of online
  • More and more start-ups causing huge disruptions to existing business models
  • The global world turning more and more multi-polar and fragmented
  • Almost two years lost due to the global pandemic

Keeping all the above factors in mind, there are two very clear and distinct areas where mentoring can and will play a serious role – in the world of business, and in the world of new age education. 

Therefore, is there a possibility of getting these experienced people in their early to mid 60s to mentor the young and newly appointed successors? Is there an opportunity to bring together the energy of the young successors and the experience of the older mentor in a non-threatening manner for the benefit of all the stakeholders?

The answer is a resounding yes. Finding the right mentor and then monitoring progress is a key role that the Board of a company or an educational institution needs to own and take accountability for. The same would apply for the running of a city or a nation.

If one were to try and define the role of a new incumbent head of any organization or institution, the following key areas would stand out:

-Any new and incoming head would need to be held accountable to the Board and the investors. Therefore, developing the right indices for each business function, managing the capital invested. and then holding all accountable to achieve these is critical.

-The new head has to see himself or herself as the Ambassador of the company and its business, irrespective of how large or small the business maybe. The Ambassador would, and needs to be perceived as a just Ambassador, both inside and outside in various forums.

-Every business or institution has a culture, and the role of any head is to develop this culture. The culture of the company needs to be managed well.

-Every business needs a strategy to be planned, and then to be explained to and be understood and accepted by the board before being rolled out in a sustained manner, with frequent reviews

-Succession planning from a team and structure perspective. And also a succession plan to include new vendors and new products to meet and exceed the expectations of the customers.

Good, ethical, professional mentors will play a very crucial role over the next 5-10 years. A good mentor will ensure that any new head will build good governance and transparent practices in the organisation. 

Most businesses, irrespective of the sector they are addressing, need a strong connect with the external world. These connections could be with bureaucrats, politicians, environmental activists or the local councilor. A strong and experienced mentor will have the patience to support the new head to handle these external challenges

Most young heads are likely to be inexperienced when it comes to handling litigation. Even though there are legal departments to handle such matters these days, the onus of giving the final call needs to be trained and mentored into the new leaders.

A combination of youth and experience will always be a win-win for all institutions. If we have to draw a parallel from the world of soccer or cricket, while the Captain and his team are rushing to shoot goals or score runs, the mentor or coach will be standing on the sidelines guiding the players and helping to protect either the goal or the wickets. 

Being a coach or a mentor is a serious responsibility – to leave a legacy of a new, more intelligent, more capable generation of leaders, who in turn must play the same role in the future, so that the relay race is always run well – at all times. And that the bench strength is always very good. Whether it is with traditional business models, or disruptive start-ups in any sphere of life.

Remember, the 60s are the new 40s.