Geoff Tudhope – “Looking back, looking forward – over 20 years of mentoring”
“Looking back, looking forward – over 20 years of mentoring”
In celebration of over 21 years’ of Merryck mentoring, we are exploring how businesses have changed over the last two decades and how they might change in the coming years. Merryck mentor, Geoff Tudhope, looks at the rise in complexity and disruption and the space mentoring offers today’s leaders.
Written by Geoff Tudhope
“JUST US FOR TWO DAYS ON A RETREAT TOGETHER? WHAT ON EARTH ARE WE GOING TO TALK ABOUT?” My first Merryck mentoring client asked this at our chemistry meeting eighteen years ago and just about every client since has asked the same.
At the end of the retreat, he was amazed how widely he had reflected. He was now much clearer on what was deeply important to him. He had a better idea of what success could look like for his business and he was re-energised to be the best he could be for himself and his business. Just about every client since has said the same thing. Some things have not changed yet plenty has.
The biggest changes are all about the business landscape, the context within which we all work. The acceleration of pace and connectivity through technology has been breath-taking and has led to awesome capability at our fingertips.
Its consequences, such as greater transparency, have made us much better informed and influential about what is going on in all corners of society. Developing countries have been able to by-pass intermediate steps in their development and quickly lift many millions out of poverty. Huge wealth has been created there alongside more developed countries. Life expectancy everywhere has improved. The concept of a circular economy can now be mapped and acted on. Start-ups and new ways abound.
Yet the flip side is also accelerating: rising complexity leading to rising anxiety, spinning wheels, paralysis and bullying. Disruption from unexpected sources is now commonplace. Excessive scrutiny due to a lack of trust is stifling creativity – the unique feature of the human species. Wilful blindness and fake news are widespread. CEO tenure has halved. The wealthy are getting wealthier. Visible poverty is rising in the developed world. The environment everywhere is deteriorating whether on land, sea or air.
The context we work in is certainly oscillating and changing rapidly in both good and bad ways and is very much part of the mentoring conversations. How are you as the leader anticipating and responding? Do others perceive you and your business as frenetic, frantic or fast? Are you seeking to control the uncontrollable or are you curious about possibility?
What is the purpose of business? This is the question being asked much more often these days. Is it for me myself, us in this company or is it for all of us?
On the other hand, much remains unchanged. After all, a business is a human community full of relationships, emotions and desires. We ask ourselves who am I? Who do I trust? Am I credible? Are we asking ourselves the right questions? What motivates me? Is my work meaningful? What motivates others?
As I consciously seek to become more aware of the tensions that hover in any community, what is the best way forward? Where do I hold myself in the balance of loyalty vs performance, patience vs impatience, control vs freedom, certainty vs curiosity, logic vs gut? Our business, ourselves and all those around us are full of questions worthy of reflection and conversation.
Looking ahead, the pace of change and disruption are likely to accelerate further. The question of trust grows even more pressing. I am however an optimist and see a world full of possibilities.
The power at our fingertips can be a force for good. Our increasing awareness of others may ultimately lead to greater respect and inclusiveness and we may finally tackle our stewardship of the environment. After all, it is the ultimate context within which we live or die.
Mentoring provides the space for clients to think and to be themselves without fear of consequences. Twenty years ago, the idea of working with a mentor was a scary proposition for some. Twenty years later, why wouldn’t you work with a mentor?
Merryck continues to be a learning community in service to our clients, helping them be the best they can be. Our values are unchanged: curiosity, generosity and courage.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR…
GEOFF TUDHOPE spent 28 years with ICI plc, leading businesses and responsible for HR on the top 10 Group Executive (60,000 employees). He has had a portfolio of roles in mainstream business and social enterprises since 2000 and has global expertise in responsible leadership, FTSE 100 leadership and the effectiveness of HR Directors, as well as chairing social enterprises.
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