Monday 4 May 2020

An experiment: want to try me on as a mentor?

I'm fortunate during this challenging time to be working with a great mentor. Her particular skill lies in giving me space to talk, then reflecting back to me in such a way that I can see where I'm placing too much emphasis, and not enough emphasis. She is also - at this time particularly - a great sanity check, a kind of Warrant of Fitness assessment when I feel in peril of going off the rails.

This is my first formal mentoring relationship. I've been lucky in my career to have started off in a university department (Victoria's School of Art History) that was filled with great exemplars, and then to have worked in larger organisations (like National Library and Te Papa) where I have had access to more experienced, highly skilled people who have been generous with their time and attention. I've been lucky too to work in a city like Wellington, with loads of arts organisations and smart people who I get to learn from.

So in the spirit of giving back, I'd like to offer myself up as a mentor.* I've done loads of informal coaching, but usually with people I work with. This is my first chance to extend that out to people I don't already know well.

My plan is to offer up to 4 people a trial hour-long session during this period where most of us are working from home. We'll book a video-conference session, get to know each other a bit, talk about what's top of mind for you, and see what we have to offer each other. Afterwards, we'll see whether there's value in continuing to meet longer term.

The areas where I think I can offer the most value:
  • Leading during the pandemic
  • Adjusting to people management roles
  • Taking care of yourself as a leader / people manager
  • Career changes, development and goals
The public cultural sector is my home base and site of most experience so I'd like to work with people who are in (or trying to get into) that zone. I should be upfront and say I respond best to optimistic, proactive people who are looking to grow.

If you're interested, please fill out the short form below by Saturday 9 May. I'll review applications (please let there be applications!!) over the weekend, and set up sessions starting the week of 11 May.

Expression of interest form

*In the spirit of disclosure, one of the things my mentor suggested in my last session with her was to carve myself out time to do things I find restorative and joyful. As an endlessly curious person, immersing myself in people's professional lives and ambitions is one of my happiest things. So, if this is an opportunity you're interested in, know you're doing me a favour by pursuing it.

Oh, also! If you don't know who I am: I'm Courtney Johnston, Tumu Whakarae | Chief Executive of Te Papa, you can read a bit about my background & experience on our website or in this recent interview.

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