By: Anbreen Khan, Partner, Tax, Deloitte Middle East
Mentoring falls at the heart of our diversity agenda and is a critical element which we implement at Deloitte – I say critical because although mentoring is essentially semi-structured guidance, it provides a platform to take time out from otherwise dynamic schedules and provide visible 1-to-1 counsel.
My own experience of mentoring both women and men is that there is an eagerness to discuss issues around career development and in particular with Partners and Directors. Working in a professional services firm brings with it the natural complexities of navigating organizational facets such as personality, market pressures, business development, fast paced advancements, mental and physical pressures and so on. This multi-faceted environment lends itself to the constant need to ensure that the development and retention of our people is the touchstone of success – not just individual success but everyone wins. More importantly, the leaders of any business must, to my mind, demonstrate stewardship. this is why mentoring is a great way of engagement and stewardship.
I am often asked questions akin to ‘what is the secret to success’ or ‘how do I enhance my chances of becoming a leader’. The answer is not some top kept secret– it rests in some of the basic fundamentals of any success for women and men – hard work, commitment, perseverance, positive attitude etc. However, there are other facets which can improve your chances to reach a leadership position and this is true especially for women. My top three pointers would be : adapt your style, your career is your business proposition and what I refer to as a “coping mechanism”.
*Adapt your style – never change who you are. Be true to yourself, embrace your diversity, your values and your integrity however there are always areas you can continuously improve on like personal impact, presentation skills, picking your battles (and each of these is a topic in itself!)
*Business proposition – proactively manage your career – work out your business case and operationalize your vision – what is unique about you, and importantly be realistic and go easy on yourself
*Coping mechanism – everyone needs something for challenging times – it may be your faith (for me it is my faith), or family, or consultation, or fun – but know what it is so you can draw on this to cope with enhancing your success and well-being
My experiences of mentoring have taught me that sometimes underneath it all – there is a complex set of issues, self-imposed expectations and often unvoiced concerns – unpacking these within the confines of what a mentee wants is a winning combination to getting to a balanced and realistic view of ones weaknesses as well as strengths. It is from taking time out to self-evaluate, think about the distinctiveness you bring and in particular focus on your areas for development that will lead to the recognition and ultimately leadership success.
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