Mentoring for peak performance in the MENA region

Kathleen Bury, chief executive officer of the Mowgli Foundation, shines a spotlight on mentoring as a key element to empower entrepreneurs to achieve both personal and professional success
Kathleen Bury is chief executive officer of the Mowgli Foundation.
By Kathleen Bury
Wed 28 Sep 2016 11:08 AM

People involved in the MENA entrepreneurship ecosystem are constantly working to increase the potential of entrepreneurs and help them realise success.

The ultimate aim of all stakeholders is to enable entrepreneurs to grow sustainable businesses and become positive contributors to today’s economy.

Tackling this complex situation starts with a simple question: how can stakeholders in the entrepreneurship ecosystem maximise the potential of entrepreneurs in the region and increase their success rates?

We adopt an equation from Tim Gallwey’s Inner Game Theory, which is:

‘Capability minus Interference equals Performance’

The equation must be broken down to really understand its meaning and importance in the closing of performance gaps required to realise success for entrepreneurs in the MENA region.

Capability can be defined as the ‘extent of someone’s ability to do something’ and broken down into three key components – skills, knowledge and behaviours. However, if two of the three levels are high, but one is low, the overall capability level is defined as being low, rather than the average of the three. From our experience, behaviour is the main component that reduces one’s capability level and interferes with their overall performance.

The second component of the equation is ‘interference’. The interferences can be any variable, external or internal, that affects entrepreneurs’ willingness or motivation to achieve their potential and perform at the optimal level.

There are significant levels of interference existing in the lives of entrepreneurs within the MENA region. Many have to grapple with issues of loneliness, lack of self-confidence, nervousness around risk-taking, and fear of failure. In addition to these intrinsic interferences, there are also extrinsic factors, such as inadequate infrastructure, complicated legal environment, and financial issues that entrepreneurs need to deal with during their daily lives.

For the purposes of this article and for its dominant effect, the focus will be on the internal or intrinsic interferences, such as limiting beliefs (self-doubt and self-consciousness), fears (risk taking and failure), emotions and mindset, since each entrepreneur has the choice and power to address, manage and change them.

This ‘interference’ is the most important area to focus on, but is unfortunately often overlooked or avoided, especially when talking about nurturing the human capital of entrepreneurs.

When entrepreneurs experience anxiety, fear, self-doubt or any strong emotion, and are not supported and/or equipped to deal with it, their ability to process these emotions is limited.

Their mindset and perspective can become negative, leading often to sub-optimal results. Once they identify and tackle these interferences head on, they can take that next step to silencing them and therefore push the boundaries of what they can achieve. This is key to unlocking their potential.

‘Interference busting’, is difficult for an entrepreneur to do on their own. This is why it is crucial for entrepreneurs to build a network of trusted mentors.

The identification, eradication and management of those interferences will help entrepreneurs become the greatest version of themselves, on the personal and the business sides as equal.

The importance of having a mentor for an entrepreneur cannot be stressed enough, someone to empower them to deal with their interferences in order to perform at their best and build their inner strength.

Our Mentoring Effect on Economic Growth report showcases that by investing in mentoring, funders of the ecosystem have achieved an average Return on Mentoring Investment (ROMI) of 890 percent in the MENA region as a result of empowering entrepreneurs’ potential and capabilities.

On the personal side, entrepreneurs report feeling more confident in decision making and stepping out of comfort zones as well as feeling empowered to make decisions for themselves and develop their leadership capability which leads to greater business success.

Given this, the formula has been adapted to include a key element which significantly enables entrepreneurs to success in the short and long term:Capability – Interference + Mentoring = Performance.

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