Does business do enough to unlock the potential of its people?

Britain is one of the leading financial and business centres in the world, attracting some of the most talented people to work here. The leaders of British companies are some of the best globally, but can this be sustained? One of the biggest challenges is making sure we are able to attract, grow and retain talented people who will aspire and rise to the most senior roles in the future.

To make sure that British business can continue to develop strong leaders, it needs to take full advantage of the diverse talents that make up our entire workforce. 

British businesses may be overlooking some of the greatest talent in their organisations.

There are over 63 million people in Britain today and over 32 million of them are women. Yet among the senior ranks of the biggest British businesses, women make up just 15%. More than two thirds of the UK’s leading firms have no full time ethnic minority executive directors. This means British businesses may be overlooking some of the greatest talent in their organisations — either because people do not see a future role for themselves within their company or because businesses are not nurturing their talent and offering opportunities to realise their potential and progress their careers.

A pipeline of future leaders can be built by accelerating the development of senior professionals and by moving high potential people with diverse experience and talents up the management structure. This must be done in a way that gives them the skills and experience they need, not to mention the desire, to take on senior roles in the future. Mentoring is recognised as one of the most effective ways to make this happen.

 Mentoring encourages people to take risks they might not otherwise take.…..Most importantly, it unlocks potential.

Mentoring encourages people to take risks they might not otherwise take. It builds confidence, helps define route maps, fosters new ideas, identifies ways around obstacles, unveils opportunities and provides support, advice and guidance. Most importantly, it unlocks potential. The perspective of an independent person can help people see how they can transform their positions, reveal new possibilities and give them greater confidence in pursuing challenges.

Mentoring, in particular external mentoring, allows mentees to form a trusted relationship with experienced business leaders that is safe and confidential. People will often shy away from expressing their concerns to colleagues or superiors due to the need to impress and fear of judgement, but with an external mentor these inhibitions disappear.

Mentoring is not just about helping a single individual’s career, it also delivers many tangible, long-term economic benefits to businesses. By investing in the development of senior people, their team’s development is also accelerated, leading to greater productivity and a longer-term, diverse pipeline of future leaders.

Done successfully, mentoring is transformational for the individual and for the company. It turns talented people into the next generation of leaders and builds the future face of British business.

Emma Avignon, CEO of Mentore Consulting, works with businesses to identify, develop and accelerate their top talented women by designing bespoke development programmes delivered through professional mentoring. Emma leads a team who provides best in class consulting, mentoring and access into appropriate networks and connections. Emma speaks fluent French and German, is a qualified Chartered Accountant has more than 15 years of experience working for large professional services firms including PwC and EY. She also works with the Royal Academy of Arts and the Social Business Trust including their Investment companies and other stakeholders. She is passionate about working with people to help them achieve their potential and mentors upcoming future business leaders across corporate and social enterprises.

You might also be interested in: How can business recruit, retain and inspire the best talent? Diversity of talent = diversity of thought = great business, says Helen Wollaston, WISE campaign.  Is business doing enough to redress the gender balance? British Glass asks how we can STEM the leaking talent pipeline in manufacturing

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