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Mentors For Our PLC Chairmen ?

Posted on May 24, 2011 at 1:22 PM

In corporate life at the very top in the United Kingdom we still do some things very differently from our American cousins. Our approach to mentoring has been one of them, but things may be changing.

Sir Philip Hampton, chairman of the Royal Bank of Scotland and one of the UK's most well-respected businessmen, tells me about a big US company that recently appointed a new chairman and revealed in its annual report that he had not one, but three mentors who worked with him regularly.

Can you imagine that happening in the UK ? Not really. If it happened, it certainly wouldn't be in the annual report.

But, says Sir Philip : "maybe in five or 10 years we'll do it here."

These mentors essentially acted as a small advisory panel to the chairman. It's a more formal recognition of a process that has been going on in the UK at senior levels for a long time. Sir Philip says: "Informally these relationships have existed for donkey's years in an exclusive male club. Now it's starting to get more structured, and there are pros and cons to that."

"From time to time chairmen get together to have a formal chat about what's bugging them, and it helps. There is very little preparation you ever get to being a chairman - and it's a unique job" he adds.

Categories: Chairmen, Mentoring, Behaviour