Much of what I find myself doing as a speech coach is falling more into the mentoring category than the instructing category. I recently got an idea from a client. He had called to discuss hiring me to speak to his staff, something I’ve done several times for his organization. At the close of the conversation, he asked about one of his employees. “
He’s someone we’ve targeted to be a key part of our future. He’s incredibly reliable and capable. But his new responsibilities will put him in front of customers. A lot. We’re not sure he’s ready for the spotlight and he has voiced some reservations about his public-facing skills. Do you think he can do it?”
With no other background and no time to prepare, it sure felt like a loaded question. Sometimes I’m amazed at my response to questions like this. The answers seem to be moments of enlightenment and I wish I could have them recorded for later. Other times… well, let’s just say I often wish I could play a do-over card.
But in this case, I loved my impromptu response. “
If this is an issue about his skills – those can be taught. To anyone. And I’m your guy. But if this is an issue about self-worth and leadership, then I think that should be mentored and investigated within your organization, and most notably from you. Have you talked to him directly about how you feel and what you’re thinking?”
There was a long pause. Finally, he concluded: “
I should mentor him internally.” I agreed.
I believe that mentorship is a key ingredient to growing any organization (or person) and making it last. I also observe that it is missing in most organizations.
Virtually every great speaker I’ve had a chance to interview has said a mentor/coach was the key to getting them prepared for the big stage.
Most of the people I’ve run into that were fantastic speakers/communicators revealed when pressed that a mentor/coach was key in getting them prepared for the big stage. Someone took the time – rarely as part of a training program – to educate and rub off the skills, motivation, and confidence to achieve something they could not do on their own..
There are volumes written on mentorship, just like there are on speaking. And that’s the problem. Mentorship (and speaking) are not something to learn from a book.