starwarsIt’s a Miracle! Older People also have Breakthrough Ideas

When you have a guitar, even people who don’t like you will ask you to parties; it’s like a Willie Wonka Golden Ticket. On that exact basis, I was recently asked to a ‘do’ in Raheny.  I didn’t know many of the people there, but a lorry load of alcohol soon sorted that out (“Let the minutes of this meeting show that the EU red wine lake has been depleted”).

Finishing School:
Mid way through the night, the hostess was trying to distribute food. I was helping out and encouraging her partner to do the same. One of the women at the party observing all this, suggested that I take up a completely new business – training single men – a sort of Finishing School for Bachelors. Not anything to do with sex of course. Linda is contemplating installing a strobe light in our house to make it look like I’m moving! The instructions would be more along the lines of being a perfect husband. Do you think there’s a market for that? Because, on a more serious note, I think there’s definitely a market for this type of instruction in organisations.

Mary Robinson:
I’ve just finished reading Mary Robinson’s autobiography Everybody Matters. Most of you will be familiar with the story of her rise to fame from lawyer to Irish President to Human Rights High Commissioner with the United Nations. In more recent times she was appointed as an Elder, a group of former politicians and high profile individuals who play the role of international ambassadors, helping to ease tensions in the world’s trouble spots. In the same way that the woman at the party was suggesting (tongue-in-cheek) that I ‘teach’ the younger males, Mary Robinson and her co-elders are able to pass on their wisdom to emerging leaders. And that’s a deadly serious business.

Organization Level:
At the organisation level, mentors play a very similar role. They are older (and hopefully wiser) and know how to navigate structures and politics. They can be an ‘unpaid’ resource helping younger members of the ‘tribe’ learn how to be successful and grow. And avoid some of the obvious traps which young managers are susceptible to (do I really need to spell this out?). While this structure has been used throughout history in almost every society, very few organisations (a) understand the concept of mentoring or (b) deploy this in a practical way. For sure, some organisations use external coaches (about 30% of my own work is in coaching), but mentoring is a different concept, one that is well worth exploring. Nothing comes for ‘free’ and it has to be set up and managed professionally. But where it’s done well, my experience is that it  adds real value and it’s hugely cost effective.

Something in this for your organisation?  Worth exploring.