Mentoring Not A One-Way Street

29 October 2015

While there are many necessities for a successful partnership, high on the list would have to be mutual respect and clear communication.

When Judy Ingram met her mentor, Jim Liaskos, it was an easy fit. The two were partnered as part of the Brimbank Community Leadership Program, of which Judy was a participant, and which Leadership Victoria delivered.

“I guess we just ‘clicked’,” says Jim. “We quickly found areas of commonality and learned to speak each other’s language.”

“Judy is just brilliant in her commitment and efforts on behalf of the community and her causes. She is someone to be admired and respected, which is a great foundation to build on. She had a very clear understanding of what she wanted to get from the relationship, and we just worked at achieving this (and she did most of the work).”

Judy, who is President of the Friends of the Maribyrnong Valley Inc., agrees that being clear about her objectives helped the partnership blossom.

“By discussing in advance what I required at the next meeting, Jim was able to ask other people with expertise in certain areas to sit in on our meetings. For him to go out of his way to do this was, I am sure, above and beyond. For this and so many other reasons I will be forever grateful to Leadership Victoria and Brimbank for this opportunity, and for giving me such a great mentor in Jim.”

Judy says it is up to mentees to take responsibility and get the most out of their program.

“My advice would be that mentees must be prepared to do the work, be sure of what they need, and be clear with their mentors about what they require from each meeting in advance. And they need to be open to going out of their way to work with their mentor, and not the other way around,” she says.

“Mentors are there to help us and advise and encourage, but you have to take control of your needs and not let your goal pass you by.”

But Jim says Judy was not the only one benefitting from their partnership.

“In truth, the mentor often gets as much out of the relationship, as the mentee brings their own life experience which can enrich the mentor’s understanding,” says Jim.

“This mentoring program should not be considered as one person teaching the other, but both parties exploring the challenge of leadership in a particular set of circumstances.”

“I learned a lot about some grassroots issues I hadn’t considered and gained some new perspectives.”

“For me [the best part of the program] was the face-to-face time we spent together discussing issues and alternative approaches which takes you out of your own paradigm (and Judy’s husband would often join us for the discussions; the more the merrier).”

“Judy is already a strong and dynamic leader in her community, and a true hero in her sphere of influence, although she may too humble to think so. It’s a tough job working in a volunteer capacity and motivating others while forever battling seemingly unnecessary obstacles, when all you want is to do good for the wider community…
As a Mentor it was good to be able to provide independent confirmation that she was in fact doing a great job already and it was in her grasp to lead her group to achieve their wider goals.”