Over the summer, our team at Bank of Central Florida launched a Women’s Mentorship Program. In the short time since its launch, women across the company have made tremendous progress and developed relationships with one another along the way.
When we look back on our lives and our careers, many of us can note a few key figures that influenced our development. Whether those people inspired us from afar or cultivated a personal relationship with us, it is evident that our relationships matter. Peers and leaders alike help us find our strengths and cultivate our skills.
Earlier this year, Michelle Netwal, Chief Financial Officer at Bank of Central Florida, reflected on the mentors that greatly influenced her. She sought to provide a common ground for those relationships to emerge within our bank, and launched the Women’s Mentorship Program to do so.
The top priority of the Women’s Mentorship Program is to help women achieve their ambitions through one-on-one connection.
Michelle wanted to ensure that employees know where they can grow in our institution. The bank’s leadership team is committed to growing our staff personally and professionally, and the mentorship program exists to provide a tangible method of that commitment.
Michelle enlisted the help of Emily Rogers, career and life coach based in the Lakeland area, to help her develop the program. Emily identified five mentors at the bank, trained them, and began accepting inquiries from mentees.
Before launching the program, Michelle learned about a phenomenon that peaked her curiosity: that men and women are typically held to different standards of leadership styles. Research shows that, in professional settings, men use “power markers,” while women use “attractiveness markers.” This means that men often speak directly and objectively; women often speak more softly and politely. In general, men rely on influence where women rely on agreeableness.
There is nothing wrong with either method of communication. We should never compromise who we are; we ought to lead honestly and intentionally. That being said, we can always improve on our natural skills and abilities. We can develop traits we’d like to see in ourselves. This is the purpose of Bank of Central Florida’s mentorship program: to help women first understand their strengths, then build upon them.
Since the start of the program, women around the company have spoken about their progress and growth. “People have been telling me that they feel better about themselves and their work since joining the program,” said Michelle. The difference, even after a short time, is noticeable around the office.
Mentors affirm skills and traits within us that we may not recognize otherwise. Michelle hopes to see current mentees become future mentors as the company grows.
“We’re not asking anyone to change,” said Michelle. “We’re asking them how far they’re willing to stretch.”
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