collaborative mentoring

Collaborative Mentoring in Purpose-Driven Organisations

In the survey, we asked respondents to identify current and future motivations that value contributions from all generations in their workplace.

From our experience as learning partners and executive coaches, we have found that purpose thrives through open communication, fostering a vibrant community where ideas and values are shared. Collaboration, commitment, and a strong culture create an environment where people are inspired to work together for a common goal.

With 30+ years of combined experience across various industries, including education, publishing, banking, finance, health, telecommunications, and startups, Neil Callen and Gail Gibson are leaders in fostering resilience and motivation in global organisations. Together, their expertise in re-engagement and their passion for cultivating strong, purpose-driven cultures make them sought-after voices in innovation and transformation.

What challenges are associated with cultivating inclusive cultures and motivation in today’s organisations?

Cultivating an inclusive and respectful culture in organisations today presents several challenges:

Motivation: There is no ‘one size fits all’ when motivating people. What motivates one individual may not motivate another. A leader needs to understand the unique drivers for each person and personalise their approach to motivate accordingly. Often difficult in diverse teams where cultural, generational, and individual differences play a significant role.

Unconscious bias: Overcoming unconscious biases that can influence hiring, promotion, and daily interactions within the organisation. Being aware of their own biases leaders need to proactively create an environment where diverse perspectives are encouraged and valued.

Safe Space: Leaders must ensure that people feel heard and respected. Listening with empathy fosters the commitment to open communication and creates a safe space where individuals can share their experiences and ideas without fear of reprisal or dismissal. Encourage informal, rapport and trust-building conversations, and inclusive training to foster a deeper understanding among team members.

To address these challenges leaders can:

    1. Provide deep listening and psychological safety training and mentoring/coaching to engender a culture of empathy, vulnerability, and collaboration across the organisation.

    1. Create a support network for open communication where people can explore and find common ground and share ideas and concerns.

    1. Validate and appreciate contributions meaningfully recognising an individual’s values and motivations, and how they align with and fuel those of the organisation.

    1. Encourage cross-team reverse/collaborative mentorship programmes that develop, support, and sustain a ‘one team – all voices’ approach *** (Refer to our collaborative mentoring case study)  

By addressing these challenges, leaders can cultivate a more purpose-driven culture that motivates and leverages the full potential of the organisation’s diverse workforce.

Insights into Cultivating Inclusive Cultures and Motivation in Today’s Organisations 

Leadership Strategies: 

Leadership strategies play a crucial role in shaping organisational culture. According to our data analysis, the most common first-choice phrase is “active listening.” This underscores the importance of leaders being attentive and receptive to diverse team viewpoints.

One senior leader aptly says, “A leader needs to be decisive and show their team where they’re going and most importantly why.” This highlights the significance of clarity and purpose in leadership communication.

Also, fostering psychologically safe environments and promoting open communication channels are emphasised as essential leadership practices. Listening to understand not listening to respond, builds a deeper sense of trust and belonging. One senior leader quoted, “When everyone is welcome, every story listened to, and everyone’s journey respected, more and more people are willing to open up and be heard.”

Emerging as key themes in building effective leadership strategies that contribute to inclusive cultures: transparency, trust, and empathy.

Motivation Anchored in Purpose: 

Purpose-driven work stands out as a primary motivator among respondents, with many citing it as their top choice. The data reveals that individuals are driven by a desire for work that provides direction, meaning, and fulfilment. “Purpose gives direction and meaning to our work,” expresses one respondent passionately. This sentiment underscores the intrinsic connection between purpose and motivation in driving individual and organisational success.

Furthermore, continuous learning, autonomy, and collaborative cultures are identified as complementary factors that amplify motivation. Empowering employees to take ownership of their work and fostering a sense of belonging are key strategies for aligning individual aspirations with organisational goals. 

Areas Primed for Enhancement: 

While organisations have made strides in fostering inclusive cultures, other areas are primed for enhancement based on our analysis.

Transparency, trust, and communication emerge as key areas requiring attention. “Without purpose, there’s no reason,” emphasises a respondent, highlighting the critical role of purpose in organisational culture.

Enhancing employee well-being and mental health, promoting flexible work arrangements, and providing clear pathways for career advancement are identified as priorities for organisations seeking to strengthen their cultures. Moreover, investing in continuous learning initiatives and empowerment strategies is crucial for preparing individuals and organisations to navigate future challenges successfully. 

Investing in the growth of untapped potential and talent from within your people is essential. Providing personal and professional development such as collaborative mentoring programmes drives personal performance and growth. Across the organisation, adaptability, responsibility, and awareness engender a deeper sense of belonging, better multigenerational communication, and purpose. A leader says, “When you take care of your people, they will take care of the organisation.”

Holistic Themes Emerging: 

In synthesising the data, holistic themes emerge that underscore the interconnected nature of leadership, motivation, and organisational culture. Purpose-driven work, continuous learning, autonomy, and trust emerge as foundational pillars in thriving organisational cultures. “Trust has to be the base,” asserts one leader, reflecting the sentiment echoed by others.

Inclusive and collaborative environments foster belonging and shared purpose among employees, driving innovation and growth. “Collaboration fosters a culture that supports people to learn from each other rather than compete,” added one leader.  

By prioritising these themes and aligning them with organisational values, leaders can cultivate inclusive cultures that empower individuals to reach their full potential and drive organisational success. 

Demographic themes: 

The data highlights distinct generational and regional differences in workplace perspectives. Baby boomers prioritise traditional leadership traits like listening and charisma, while millennials and Gen Z favour purpose-driven work and autonomy.

In Asia-Pacific, hierarchy and respect for authority are emphasised, while Europe, the Middle East, and Africa prioritise inclusivity and transparency.

These variations underscore the need for organisations to tailor leadership approaches and cultural initiatives to accommodate diverse generational and regional preferences. 

In conclusion, leveraging these insights can enable organisations to develop tailored strategies for fostering inclusive cultures and motivating employees to achieve their goals. 

*** Reverse/Collaborative Mentoring in Action:

Neil Callen is a former learning partner at an FTSE100 company. He shares his reflections on a successful reverse/collaborative mentoring programme.

“In late 2019, I played a pivotal role in launching and managing a collaborative mentoring initiative, uniting a senior leadership cohort from the UK with their junior counterparts to share insights and experiences. As fortune would have it, the programme kicked off just as the pandemic descended upon us in early 2020, proving to be an indispensable resource for all involved.

Amidst this tumultuous period, I, as a member of the leadership team, was mentored by two individuals, each offering fresh perspectives on the challenges we collectively faced and granting me profound insights into their respective realms. One of these mentors was a woman residing in a modest London apartment, whose firsthand experiences provided invaluable guidance on enhancing communication, bolstering employee wellbeing, and fostering engagement amidst the Covid era and beyond.

Her wisdom broadened my horizons and inspired actionable strategies for cultivating resilience and adaptability in our ever-evolving professional domain. The other mentor, a man residing a hundred miles from London, shed light on the opportunities inherent in flexible and hybrid work arrangements.

His narrative allowed me to navigate the nuances of return-to-office policies and communications, ensuring they resonated more deeply with the experiences of our diverse workforce.

Encouraged by both mentors to embrace curiosity, I eagerly applied the lessons gleaned from our interactions to effect tangible improvements in our organisational practices, ultimately enriching the experiences of our workforce.”

Further reading on collaborative mentoring g)

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