The Inner Mentor: My role as a mentor, gives inspiration for my role as a leader
April 19, 2021
Henrik Blavnsfeldt, Deputy Director in the Danish mortgage bank Realkredit Danmark, has more than 30 years of management experience. Back in 2011, when he started as a mentor, his initial thought was that it was a role, he could easily relate to as an experienced manager. However, he quickly realised that the role as a mentor requires more than just sitting at the end of the table.
Henrik Blavnsfeldt’s interest in mentoring can be linked to a more general interest in the main areas of organisation, management, and employees. He believes this interest is why he was curious when his organisation introduced him to the idea of a mentoring programme back in 2011. Leadership development had in the previous years, during the financial crisis been downgraded in the organisation, and a mentoring programme for new managers was therefore established to be able to ensure the success and development of the new leaders in the future.
Henrik’s journey as a mentor started when he, as an experienced manager, was selected to be a mentor for new managers in Realkredit Danmark. As a part of the implementation of the mentoring programme, Henrik and other new mentors received mentor training provided by KMP+ House of Mentoring.
”It was new for me to be part of a mentoring programme, and the mentor training ensured a good and common frame of reference and understanding among Realkredit Danmark’s managers of the content in the mentoring programme. Thus the foundation was in place”, states Henrik Blavnsfeldt.
A breath of fresh air for the leadership role
When Henrik Blavnsfeldt first took on the role as a mentor, he had no expectations of that the mentoring programme also would contribute to his own personal development. According to Henrik, it has since turned out that ”I experienced I got a lot of new inspiration from the mentee and all my different mentoring relationships have been extremely rewarding”.
Through conversations with other mentors, Henrik has come to the conclusion that an important dimension in mentoring, which often may be overlooked, is that as a mentor and leader, you will also benefit from the mentoring relationship.
”I am challenged on my own style and role as a leader. I get youthful feedback and insight into how the young leaders think today”, says Henrik Blavnsfeldt.
An example of how Henrik, through the mentor role, has gained new input for his own leadership role, was by using the mentor/mentee-conversation as a confidential space to review employee satisfaction surveys, where both parties provided input and comments on the results.
It is important to let the mentee take control
According to Henrik, it is important that you as a mentor make an effort not to take over the control of the relationship. As a mentor, Henrik therefore makes sure that his mentees themselves come up with the topics they want to discuss. That way, he avoids influencing the mentee in terms of what they want to get out of the relationship. For Henrik, it is important to be well prepared before a mentor/mentee-meeting. For this reason, he wants to be prepared for the topics that the mentee wants to discuss a few days in advance.
Even though there must be a direction and progress in the mentoring relationship, it is important that decisions and goals are made by the mentee.
“The role of the mentor is to support and set the framework for a development process for the mentee”, says Henrik Blavnsfeldt.