Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Posts tagged ‘leadership’

Sugar man

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One of my mentors – my husband Bill

Wow! what a story. Last night, Bill and I watched “Sugar man” the story about songwriter Rodriguez who released two albums in US in the early 70’s which didn’t even make ripple on the US music front. The same albums created a cult following during the depth of apartheid in South Africa selling over 500 000 copies.

Australia was the only other country in the world showing interest in the man they said was better than Bob Dylan.

The amazing thing was he didn’t know. He was still unknown in America and working his backside off as a labourer, struggling to raising his family and living in  26 different homes during this time.  While royalties were paid to his record company, not a cent was passed on so he didn’t have a clue about the impact he was having in South Africa at the time. (and on husband Bill and a few of his mates!)

Over 25 years later he was tracked down by a South African fan, who believed him to be dead, and he discovered the impact of his music in that country. Visiting South Africa in 1998 he performed to 6 sold out concerts … and then returned to being a labourer in US.

If only someone had contacted him!

His story blew me away… and took me back to my heroes and mentors. It made me think about  many of the people who had influenced my life  that I hadn’t taken the time to actually acknowledge for the impact they had on me.

In a country like Australia where we “knock the tall poppy” and berate success, we are not good at acknowledging. Imagine how powerful it could be if we had the courage to tell people genuinely what they had done and the impact they really had on our lives.

And I don’t mean a “thanks mate” or a “you did a great job”. I mean an acknowledgement with some “punch” behind it.

In our coaching and mentoring workshops we talk about acknowledgement as being authentic – from the heart. It focuses on the “who”  – the qualities demonstrated – what it really meant for you.

One of my mentors was my mother in law – a wonderful woman who demonstrated to me the importance of pursuing your passion in your career (amongst many other things). Sadly we lost her to cancer in 2000 and I never had the opportunity to tell her of the impact she had in my life.

Real acknowledgements are extremely powerful.

We can’t all have the impact of Rodriguez – such an impact on a country – but we can acknowledge the people who have an impact on us.

I leave you with the challenge to acknowledge your heroes and informal mentors … and I look forward to hearing the impacts!

PS – I also recommend watching the Rodriguez documentary – Sugar Man. An amazing story. (Bill and I are looking forward to seeing a 70 year old Rodriguez perform during Easter at the Byron Bay Blues Festival.)

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The power of mentoring

2013-01-03 20.35.24We have all had a hero – a role model we have admired and shaped ourselves on.

One of mine was Meredith – Meredith was the chair of the SA Women’s Advisory Council – my first role outside of my local district.  I admired Meredith’s skills as a chair – she was warm, inclusive and kept us on track. Meredith was my informal mentor.

Imagine how powerful the relationship could have been if I had had the courage to ask Meredith to be my mentor – instead of watching and learning from afar I could have discussed with her what she was thinking, how she planned those meetings – and fast tracked my learning.

How many of you have had an informal mentor someone like Meredith you admired from afar?  What about a formal mentor?

What is mentoring?

“The mentor knows how to answer many great questions asked by the mentee and pass on their experience.”  The Forton Group.

The key for me in the definition is “questioning” The mentor is a guide who walks with the mentee – they have some of the  knowledge to answer the great questions however we don’t have to know everything to be a great mentor It’s more about sharing and developing of the skills of our mentee,  sharing our networks and questioning the mentee to assist them to develop their own skills and knowledge.  Creating possibility.

We have formal and informal mentors and it the formalising of the process that makes it powerful. We should encourage people to approach us to formalise the process and approach mentors ourselves. We are never too old to have a mentor, its not about age.

I will share of couple of personal mentoring examples …

1. Last year I was a volunteer mentor for APEN (Australasia-Pacific Extension Network) where I mentored a young woman for 8 months. I enjoyed working with her enormously – the benefits for me were fantastic – the sharing of her achievements and watching her grow in confidence.

“I had what I thought were a lot of professional difficulties but through mentoring my mountains became molehills and  I  learnt a variety of new skills to deal with my work. I gained work life balance which was practically non existent – my mentor taught me skills for life.”

2.   Over a year ago I approached a young woman who had transferred into South Australia in an agricultural role and offered myself as a mentor – the gremlin in my head was busy telling me “what did I have to offer” however I stuck my neck out and offered anyway – the young woman took up my offer and we continue to work together regularly.

In Ag Consulting Co we often work with young people who have chosen agriculture as a career and build mentoring into our training programs. These young people tell me regularly about the need for more people with mentoring skills in the industry

Mentoring is a skill underpinned by coaching and understanding the role of a coach greatly enhances the skills of a mentor. Training in the art of mentoring makes the relationship even more effective – the next blog will be about coaching.

It would be great to hear about some of your mentoring experiences… I look forward to some comments.

RIRDC Rural Women’s Award – Reflections

The RIRDC Rural Women’s Award opened on August 1st. This is a great opportunity for Rural Women across Australia to receive a $10,000 financial bursary to implement their Award vision. Each State and Territory winner and runner-up also has the  opportunity to participate in the Australian Institute of Company Directors (AICD) Course and will be supported to develop an individual integrated leadership plan. I strongly encourage women to apply, it is a wonderful chance to develop skills and take the next step in your life journey.

I was fortunate to be involved in this fantastic Award as the SA winner in 2004. It benefited me in many  exciting ways including leadership opportunities, career development, expanding my network and through mentoring. I was just stepping out of a career in public and private  rural training to work with Bill in our business, Ag Consulting Co, developing my own place in the agricultural consulting world.

My project involved developing a facilitated learning group for rural women, becoming accredited to deliver the Myers Briggs Personality Type Indicator (MBTI) and being mentored to develop my career and leadership vision. As I reflect back over the last 8 years there are many direct links back to the award. Some of these ……

  • Working with Lindy Nelson and the Agri Womens Development Trust in New Zealand is a result of Lindy searching the internet as she completed her research project on rural women’s leadership. Lindy found the information about the award and the  the training I was doing. A phone call followed and three years later I am now travelling to NZ to facilitate programs for Lindy to develop women’s leadership skills.
  • The mentoring I received with Nicola Deakin not only assisted me in focusing on my career, her experience in coaching and NLP has seen me complete training in both, as well as becoming licensed to facilitate coaching training. We now build coaching and mentoring into our training and projects where ever possible to ensure learnings are implemented.
  • The MBTI training has been amazing – I have lost count how many times I have facilitated this workshop over the last 8 years. I have contextualised the content for farmers, advisers, researchers and resellers. This understanding of personality has influenced my interactions at all levels including facilitation techniques, coaching and  workshop delivery. It has become a standing joke in our home – and what personality type is that person mum?!
  • Leadership opportunities following the  award included chairing Government committees, and  it gave me the confidence to take on roles such as Chair of the Ag Excellence Alliance, National Chair of Partners in Grain and to apply for the Board of the GRDC.

So girls give the RIRDC Award a go! Nominate yourself or someone else this year so they too can enjoy a wonderful journey.

For more information vist the RIRDC website http://www.rirdc.gov.au

The picture is a group of women in NZ at a recent First Steps Program.

Ignite Leadership Coaching

The Ignite Leadership Coaching Course is one of those training events that made me go WOW! I did the training with Tony Draper from the Forton Group and Sharon Honner a couple of years ago in Queensland.

I was so impressed I went back to Queensland in October last year and completed the course again along with the Train the Trainer so Sharon and I could facilitate this course together.

We facilitated our first workshop in Adelaide late in June and were thrilled with the feedback we received. We were very fortunate to have Tony come to Adelaide to support us as we facilitated this for the first time.

The Forton Group is an international organisation who has designed The Professional Leadership Coach Training Programme to meet the needs of organisations and the people who work in them. The Programme is accredited with the International Coach Federation, and consists of four modules – The Ignite workshop being the first of these.

The concept of coaching is often not clearly understood as we often relate to Sports Coaching or coaching for a skill. The Forton Group define coaching as “Supporting people to get what they want, without doing it for them, or telling them what to do. The coaching conversation is an art, a science and a practice.”

In contrast to a mentor who has experience in a field and acts as a guide, a coach knows how to ask great questions so the coachee can discover for themselves and experience their own journey.

I also particularly like the Forton Groups definition of leadership; “Leadership is about people being successful and enabling success in others. Leadership is more than a position: it is who we are, what we achieve and how we do it.”

The Ignite Leadership Coaching is the foundation course, it introduces the professional leadership coaching model. It touches on emotional intelligence, how we coach to develop peoples’ emotional capacity, introduces the model and focuses on leadership vision and accessing resources.

Sharon and I hope to offer this fantastic program again later in 2012 or early in the new year. If this sounds of interest to you let us know.

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