What does a business mentor do?

Ever wondered what business mentors and leadership consultants actually do? There are good reasons the owners of businesses of all sizes are increasingly seeking out this kind of advice.

According to leadership consultant Mark Bilton of Thought Patrol, one of the key things that all business leaders have in common is the need to set goals to achieve their growth plans.

Mark says this process should be a very collaborative one.

“We build a three-year plan on the day, with up to 30 people in the room, which scares the heck out of leadership teams, but it’s inherently agile,” he explains.

“We do a lot of future-casting, looking at what trends are impacting that business and what 'good' looks like in the future. We pull that down into a three-year view, one-year view, then literally just the next 90 days.

“That's a bunch of milestones, maybe between eight and 12 milestones. Each one of those milestones has an owner and they’re given the responsibility to go and do something over a 90-day period. Then we recalibrate that every 90 days.”

This quarterly cycle allows enough time for everyone to get on with their respective tasks and regroup to analyse progress.

The other key reason business leaders seek out mentors is to simply talk with a like-minded person.

“[For] CEOs, it can be a lonely role: you can have certain conversations with your board; you can have certain conversations with you leadership team, [but] people outside the business are not really interested in the business. You can talk to friends about it but it’s not quite the same,” says Mark.

“Having someone who has been there and done that, been in a similar situation, sometimes it’s just nice to be able to articulate your thoughts, go through some issues [and say], ‘Hey, I’m working on this. What do you think?’.”

“From my perspective, it’s peer-to-peer mentoring. It’s not like me coming in and saying, ‘Here’s 10 things you need to do today’. It’s much more about, ‘What are you working on and how are you approaching it? Have you thought of this?’."

Mark adds that business mentors also operate in strict confidence, allowing the business owner freedom to examine even sensitive issues such as finances and personnel.

“Often [it is having] that chance to just articulate it to someone who is completely independent … It’s much more about a safe space, and everyone needs that,” he says.

Hear more from Mark, such as his thoughts on the common traits of successful business owners, on the My Business Podcast!

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