‘When it comes to mentoring, you’re trying to bridge gaps of information in a way that is optimally tailored to your audience, while at the same time helping them formulate answers to the hard questions themselves. The best way I’ve found to do this is to have a fluid approach, starting off with finding out what their challenges are and how they prefer to communicate. There’s no point in being the only one talking – you have to provide an engaging experience that stimulates creativity and an atmosphere that develops the confidence to formulate your own insights. It’s important to make people feel comfortable and drive home that each new experience is a massive learning curve.’
At just 28, Lindy Eksteen is already an inspirational mentor, voice for change and a force to be reckoned with. We recently caught up with her to find out how she's taken what she's learned from being part of NEXTGEN (a bespoke global version of Squared Online for performance marketing agency iProspect) last year and used it to develop and champion the people around her.
‘What I learned throughout that whole journey is invaluable,’ she tells us, ‘and I felt I'd taken away so many practical things that could help me take other people where they wanted to go too.'
By day, you’ll catch Lindy heading up the Social Media teams in Johannesburg and Cape Town for iProspect. Out of the office, she's still hard at work facilitating and contributing to the growth of others in her own time through a mentoring community she's built from the ground up. Lindy’s passion for supporting and developing others has seen her involved as a mentor with The Businesswomen’s Association of South Africa since June 2015, in addition to mentoring a NEXTGENNER from this year's 2016 programme and other professionals in her network.
So, what are her top tips for mentoring others?
- Dig deep into what your mentee really needs
‘Firstly, I make sure I can connect with that person and understand what they're looking for: people are shy to ask for help or often don’t know what they need,’ she explains, ‘so from a personal point of view, you need to understand the challenge and make time to unpack what the mentee is really trying to achieve.’
- Make a meaningful connection
Lindy likens this to how we approach a successful social strategy. 'Think about what area they need help with; ask yourself 'what's the challenge you're trying to solve for this person?' she advises. 'Who is your audience? What are their interests? How does that audience best consume ideas?’
- Make it work for everyone
Juggling mentoring with a busy lifestyle isn’t easy. ‘It you’re proactive or working with a person that just wants to soak everything up, it can be time consuming - so find the cadence and structure that works for you. We work with a couple of short Hangouts a week, but you could also try scheduling two, three or four-day workshops on a less regular basis where you can really go into things in more detail.’
- Don't be defeated by distance
The global scope of NEXTGEN required Lindy to get to grips with working in virtual teams with iProspectors across the world. From this, Lindy's been able to take the collaboration skills she developed and apply them to both her mentoring work and, her day-to-day responsibilities. Separated by 784 miles, her teams in Cape Town and Johannesburg and her clients have already benefitted from using technology to collaborate.
‘I'm all about making it feel like it’s one office no matter where people are, and I've seen firsthand how that immediacy and improved communication and relatioship building has driven powerful results for my client Mercedes-Benz.’ she explains. ‘Mentoring's no different.'
Inspired by Lindy as much as we are? She’s definitely one to watch. Place your bets now, as she gears up to inspire the next generation of digital leaders. In the meantime, why not take some of Lindy's ideas around mentorship to set up a similar support and development programme in your organisation. Make sure you let us know how you get on!
Squared grads are special. Find out the sort of things they go on to do - watch and read more Squared Online student stories here. To learn more about Squared Online you can give us a ring on +44 (0) 20 7173 5938, or download the brochure to read about the course and the Squared experience.