Saturday, November 03, 2007

Why as a CEO do you need mentoring?

Why do you need Mentoring? Because your performance, diligence, experience, talent, competence, passion brought you where you always wanted to be and now you realize that you have a need to talk to someone in an uninhibited manner.

Can you talk to your employer? Your Board? Your Subordinates? Your investors? Of course you would have your reservations of doing so. A CEO operates in a vacuum sometimes and its here that the role of a CEO Mentor becomes important.

You need someone objective and someone who has no hidden agenda.

"A coach is someone who tells you what you don't want to hear, who has you see what you don't want to see, so you can be who you have always known you could be." - Tom Landry

Without CEO mentoring, sometimes the good performers start to feel that the only way they can survive is by performing even better. They may fear failure. They may build pressure on themselves and also their subordinates and their environment. They may fail to build good working relationships with subordinates who may succeed them, if they fail. They can sometimes kill good businesses even while wanting to grow them.

Everyone needs a mentor, whatever position he or she may have reached. Even Tiger Woods, Federer, Sachin has a coach. All of us remember the Gita Updesh from Sarvottam Guru', Krishna to Karmayogi, Arjuna.

Its the duty of the entrepreneurs, professional boards to bring up their leaders well so as to grow businesses with ethics, sustainability and profits.

Its not that CEOs don't know the principles of good management or what a mentor may tell them. Its just that the proximity to 'need for higher performance situations', makes them behave differently. They may micro manage, want people to clone them, not recruit the best employees, be emotional or be reckless.

Mass workshops on CEO mentoring may only have limited success because every CEO faces a unique set of issues and may need one to one discussion and confidentiality to be able to open up. They need someone who is well networked is equally competent, has seen it all and knows what the CEO pressures are. Professional mentoring reduces stress tremendously.

A CEO Mentor plays the role of a buffer, collaborator, crisis advisor, facilitator, influencer, lobbyist, messenger, negotiator, publicist, sounding board, strategist, tactician.

Mentoring begins with 360 degree information seeking without letting down the CEO and observing the executive at work. Once concluded, the mentor and the CEO need to set realistic goals. Goals may include a specific skill, softer leadership and management issues. A regular schedule includes personal meetings as well as phone and cyber access. The Mentor and CEO can also agree to measure progress, reports, role plays etc.

I wish to express gratitude my previous employers, bosses, subordinates, trainers, situations, challenges for having prepared me to not only face but also mentor others. Milagrow my firm will soon officially start CEO Mentoring Practice having become Outsourced CEOs by default in many cases. For me and us Dr Jagdish Sheth and Prof Anil Gupta fulfill our need to mentor, support and guide. (Parts of this page will soon be available on


Anonymous said...

YOu are right sir,

It is just like an outlet and fresh unbiased perspective on work and life problems.

Rajeev Vashisht

Deepak Miglani said...

Everyone needs a mentor, whatever position he or she may have reached. You are absolutely right. Youngster are always need the guidance of their elders. Every body can become the master of any field but becoming the guru/mentor is every difficult task. Very nice post sir.
Deepak Miglani

Smiling Dolphin said...

I sat next to Dr Sheth on a flight back from Delhi a month ago. It was a most enlightening two hours. Great to hear he will be associated with your firm, happy new year, Rajeev! cheers, Lynn

Indraneel Majumdar said...

When you are working with Indian SMEs, you are essentially working with family owned firms most of the while where the CEO is usually from that family. The attitude towards guidance and hand holding is very malleable in them.

It would be a pleasure to know about your thoughts on this in another post from you.

BTW..fabulous writing!!

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