Frequently Asked Questions


1. What distinguishes mentoring from coaching?

At top management level, a Mentor is a role model who has 'made it'; whose experience, wisdom and network are relevant to the Mentee's job and future career.

A Coach provides feedback and behavioural advice to maximise a leader's effectiveness, but often has not worked in an equivalent role him/herself.

2. Who are the Mentors?

All of CMi's Mentors are, or have been, Chairmen. They know the boardroom from all angles; as Executive Committee members, as CEOs, as Non-Executives and as Chairman of the Board. This holistic experience gives them broad and diverse perspectives on how businesses are run and on how Boards function at their best. However; star reputation is not sufficient. They must also be genuinely interested in developing executives who are ten or more years behind them on their experience and learning curve.

3. Who are the Mentees?

Top executives; the best of the best - first-time Chairmen, CEOs, CFOs and the top of the internal CEO and CFO benches. As far from remedial as it is possible to be!

Executives the company wants to continue to develop and would hate to let fail or lose. They don't require help and are well equipped for promotion - but an independent, external Mentor who has been there and 'done it' can make the ascension safer and faster, accelerate performance, facilitate transition to new roles and mitigate the risk of strategic appointments.

4. What do Mentors and Mentees talk about when they meet?

The content of their conversations is confidential - and both parties sign agreements to this effect. The Mentors act  as sounding boards on delicate and important relationship issues and behaviour such as conflicting situations with ExCo and board colleagues, strained Chairman - Chief Executive relationships, blind spots; in short, matters that can be difficult, even career limiting, to raise with insiders. Even the best run companies have unwritten codes of behaviour, a dose of conflict and friction at the top, and those potential minefields can be difficult to navigate without having an experienced neutral outsider to confide in.

5. How often do they meet?

Typically every six to eight weeks to give the Mentee time to internalize and try out what has been discussed and sufficiently often to further the relationship and keep momentum in the exchange of ideas and learning.

6. Why do you recommend two Mentors instead of one?

Around 80% of our Mentees prefer the two-Mentor model. It provides them with a second opinion and different perspectives on issues that are not black or white, particularly when the Mentors have different routes-up, industry background, nationalities and style.

7. How do you match Mentors and Mentees?

We know all of our Mentors' style, preferences, strengths and availability. We can only attempt to suggest potentially suitable Mentors after having met the Mentee to understand where he/she is coming from, the inflection point they are passing or facing, anticipated forward journey and personality. This information is corroborated with other sources around the Mentee, e.g. the Chairman, HRD, or immediate superior. We then propose four or five Mentors and encourage the Mentee to research them, after which we jointly agree on one or two. Acquaintance meetings are then scheduled - with no commitment on either side - during which personal chemistry and expectations are tested before the relationship is confirmed.

8. What sets CMi apart from its competitors?

At the very top of a company, the only alternative to CMi is to do nothing. The Chairman has a role to mentor an incoming Chief Executive. He/ She/NEDs can also mentor the CEO bench and this is good practice, up to a certain point. However, it is obvious that executives in the succession list, or newly appointed, will never show their doubts, hesitations or blind spots to someone who can influence the advancement of their career. Doing so to a neutral experienced outsider makes a huge difference. Furthermore, CMi can never be conflicted because we offer no other services than mentoring at the top. We only accept Mentees and situations where we can contribute materially.

9. What's the difference between CMi's mentoring and executive development programmes run by some of the top business schools?

Very few executives, at the level where we mentor, would be able to take weeks off to attend such programmes. CMi's mentoring is totally bespoke, adapted to the individuals development needs, gaps and anticipated future roles. It is all about development in situ, personalized and acting with maximum productivity in tandem with operational life.

10. What does CMi not do?

We are not recruitment or management consultants and hence can never be conflicted. Our Mentors will not advise on acquisitions or rights-issues. We do not do remedial mentoring - our sole mission is to help the best executives become even better.