When mentoring works

Sometimes I look back at the accumulated experiences of my colourful career in the creative industries, to pinpoint a peak moment when I knew for sure where I was headed.

Though historically pleasing to review my hard earned professional accomplishments, there was only ever a collection of circumstances that I responded to in the moment that led me to the next stage in my work life. We might describe this as ‘responding to market forces’ and ‘opportunity’ rather than following a clear path or plan.

Recently reading about the origins of humanism – what it is to be human; valuing human capacities for art, reason, science; a focus on human beings as the most important feature of the universe – I was intrigued to read more about Stoicism. This school of thought of accepting what happens to you, and “going with the flow” within a “divinely ordered cosmos” has definitely accounted for many of my career choices. The reference to “divinely ordered cosmos” might loosely translate to the structures within society, politics and business today – much of which we have no control over.

I know from the feedback I get from my mentoring clients, my specific and varied career experiences have greatly helped them to understand that we do have choices in the way we work, how we work, and who with.

As a mentor, I need to have had some experience in the appropriate field if I am to convey my knowing, wisdom, learnings. Thinking laterally, and using examples of similar scenarios I have encountered can be a source of both reassurance and inspiration.

Mentoring works when people want to change something for the better. They need someone to encourage them, support them, and recognise them, and in most cases liberate them from the status quo that no longer serves them.

Recently invited to run a few ‘Mentor the mentors’ sessions for an in-house mentoring scheme at a London based architectural practice, TateHindle, I have been thrilled to see a group of on-the-job mentors take to their newly allocated responsibilities with much consideration and caring. I am glad to see organisations like these embedding mentoring into their work culture.

Mentor the Mentors Session_TateHindle_Feb2018.009

in 2017, I led a business support programme, ArtsForward, on behalf of Business in the Community. It was essentially a way for small to medium sized arts and cultural organisations to benefit from business mentoring with top notch brains from a leading financial firm. For many of the mentors (all volunteers), it was their first time mentoring people outside the sector. It was a pleasure training them up to understand what qualities were needed, and challenges they may face.

Mentoring works when both parties are willing, available, committed, can demonstrate a clear understanding of needs and issues as they arise, and are able to communicate in an open positive way.

Mentor the Mentors Session_TateHindle_Feb2018.013

Perhaps my ‘going with the flow’ approach to my career has enabled me to have very rich and diverse professional experiences that today serve others in multiple ways. My numerous specialisms are such that they allow me to plunge with confidence and competence into often very different worlds. Always knowing instantly what needs to be done, and how.

From working with architects and designers, to marketing communications professionals, wellness entrepreneurs and fundraisers in the arts, I arrive with ease ‘on scene’ as if I had been there before, already.  Thanks to the preparation undertaken, a seamless work approach ensues, and things get done, with care, consideration and always to the highest standards within nonetheless a realistic framework.

Pretty useful skills to have! Happy to share with anyone interested in individual or group mentoring programmes.


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We are London-based.

© Amanda Yensa Manor 2018



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