By Georgia Turner and Carla Ryan-Griffiths
Thoughts on having a mentor from Carla…
One of the best, but scary, things for me about applying for the LGComms Future Leaders course was the prospect of having my very own allocated mentor for a whole year. I recall joining a leadership conversation years ago where there was discussion about the need to have a mentor in order to succeed. Lorks, I thought, how do you get one of those? Do you email someone you admire? Does it have to be an ex-boss? Could it be someone you work with now? Can it be someone who is more junior than me – should we mentor each other?
It turns out it the answer to all these questions is yes, any of these mentorships can work. However, the LGComms structure allows for specific regular contact with someone new – someone who is interested in me, my aspirations and who is here to help me get the absolute best I can from my year on the course. I mean, whaaaaat? How terrifying and exciting in equal measure.
In my case I am paired with someone whose reputation precedes her, the affable comms legend who is Georgia Turner. Yes, that’s her, the one who is part of the ‘establishment’ with years of expertise in council life at the highest level, now smashing it freelancing up and down the UK, on the LGComms committee, a co-founder of Comms Unplugged and regular name at comms2point0. I was thinking, what on earth will I have to say of any value to this woman?
The answer was actually I have found loads to say, but way more to listen to; part sponsor, part coach, part cheerleader my mentor has already helped me more than she’ll know – and we have not even met in person yet. With many a ‘coffee chat’ she has helped me work on some key leadership challenges; boundary setting, coping with and managing change, celebrating achievements, even reviewing my academic essay. For our first six months she has been an experienced and trusted advisor; literally the dictionary definition of mentor – quietly and kindly encouraging me to make the best choices. I have also found that I am passing it on – I am taking that energy and mentoring others. Wow – how did I live without her? I am excited to see what the next six months with her by my side will bring…
Thoughts on being a mentor from Georgia…
Well, erm, “how do I follow that?” is my first thought! My second is that there must be another Georgia Turner in a parallel universe… well, a quiet Georgia Turner anyway!
I too have had the benefit of a formal mentor – someone hugely experienced who I trusted to be honest with me, to share advice and their knowledge freely, whilst pushing me to push myself – or not, if that’s not been right for me at a particular time in my career and my life. I’ll always be grateful for his guidance and friendship.
Having experienced and benefited from exceptional mentoring support myself, when I had the opportunity to become a formal mentor to the next generation of comms leaders through LGComms, I was naturally keen. If I could be half the mentor to my matched mentee as Stephen had been to me, I’d be making a valuable contribution to their confidence, their perspective and their future. Massive feelgood factor incoming!
Whilst I’m pleased to have in a small way and for a short time supported Carla progress and develop in her career, it’s important to reflect that mentoring is a two-way thing. For Carla and I, it’s true that I have had a longer stint in the sector than she has, and with that comes experience and insight that I’ve been happy to share. And through that sharing, I’ve benefited too. I’ve inadvertently reflected on how far I’ve come and the changes I’ve made during my recent career. I’ve realised I will passionately stand up for others facing poor treatment or unacceptable behaviours and help them to weigh up options objectively when faced with a challenging situation. My mentor helped me through an unexpected but exciting next career step – one that was absolutely right for me. I hope I can do that for others too, if that’s what’s needed.
Another benefit of mentoring is that I’ve actively listened to and learned from Carla. I’ve enjoyed hearing her perspective on modern practice, on aligning values, her passionate advocacy work and her emerging thought leadership.
It was lovely and extremely humbling to read Carla’s words. Those words are themselves a form of reverse mentoring – giving me validation and confidence and a sense of pride. Thank you Carla. I, too, look forward to our next six months together.
And finally, what are you waiting for …
Become a mentor, get a mentor, reach out to your mentor and see yourself grow. Now, start this week, today.
Informal, formal, peer, leadership driven…it’s worth making the time to connect, to reflect, to take stock, evaluate and build upon your development.
And if you don’t believe us and think we are just being overly kind about each other we’d refer to you some wise words from an article in the Harvard Business Review that we think rings true:
“Invest in your mentee’s self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect….At its highest level, mentorship means committing to helping another become fuller versions of themselves.”
About the bloggers:
Georgia is a Strategic Communications Consultant with 25+ years experience in public sector communications, including as Director of Communications at a large unitary authority. She’s a member of the LGComms Exec and a Future Leaders mentor. Georgia also co-produces the comms professionals learning retreat Comms Unplugged. Connect with she/her at https://www.linkedin.com/in/georgiaturnercommunications/
Carla is a compassionate communications leader in local government, an advocate for inclusion and a passionate storyteller. She’s a member of the LGComms Future Leader cohort of 2022/3 and will be on the judging panel for the 2023 comms2point0 awards. Connect with she/her at linkedin.com/in/carlaryangriffiths