Dr Jack Jacoby provides confidential mentoring support to senior executives. This service is termed “Mentoring-in-Confidence.

What is Mentor-In-Confidence?

Managers and directors of large organisations and corporations are expected to master every aspect of their organisation, their environment, their future and their organisation’s stakeholder needs and expectations. The sad reality is that few, if any, master all these complex elements, yet the complexity of the modern corporation suggests that real mastery is exactly what is required for success.

For cultural, image, cost, personality and other reasons, very senior managers and directors are often loath to be seen to ask for help or to openly undertake certain types of learning programs. Such help and assistance is often interpreted as inadequacy of the manager.

Both managers and directors have expressed the desire for access to a confidante who is experienced, knowledgeable, networked and strategic, and has enough cross-corporate experience to provide meaningful, timely guidance in an entirely confidential manner.

Research and observation of Australian management and its context contends that:

  • Directors and managers at all levels act subjectively because they are “only” human. When this subjectivity drives the organisation toward its core organisational objectives, then the organisation, its stakeholders and shareholders benefit. But when this subjectivity, as well meaning as it may be, impacts decisions that compromise core objectives, then all stakeholders suffer;
  • Formal educational enhancement of management capability does not provide real-time and as-needed assistance;
  • Assistance to senior CEOs cannot be overt and visible, but rather needs to be in- confidence yet immediate and broad;
  • Assistance to CEOs and senior Divisional Managers needs to accommodate whole-of-life counselling/assistance and not merely commercial advice.
  • The CEO, and other mentored managers, require both commercial and life issues-related mentoring in a private and trusting environment;
  • The CEO desires independent assistance but can’t readily obtain such assistance:
    • From within the organisation since, on one hand, it implies inadequate capability and on the other hand, isn’t easily identified as independent because of organisational dynamics and politics;
    • From the Board since they are paying for competency and assume that the CEO can manage all CEO level situations and issues;
    • From external consultants since they have a “barrow to push”.

The MIC is the highest level professional mentor available in the counselling market and is an amalgam of business coach, life coach, executive coach and oracle mentor.

The service provides senior managers and directors in large corporations with confidential advice (hence the name) and technical support in a manner that is invisible to the client’s organisation and staff but with the approval of the Board of that organisation.

Synopsis of service:

  • The Mentor-in-Confidence (MIC) provides one-on-one confidential mentoring of senior managers and directors for an annual retainer-based fee;
  • Relationships between MIC and client are strictly confidential;
  • MIC and client sessions are organised at a time, frequency and place to suit both parties;
  • The MIC is always contactable by the client for advice or discussion;
  • The MIC helps the client work through specific corporate or personal issues and challenges in a “back-room”, strategic and confidential manner;
  • Any suggestions or recommendations that emanate from a MIC/Client relationship are to be seen as the Client’s “own work”;
  • The MIC can introduce Subject Matter Experts (SME) as required by the client.

Advantages & Disadvantages



  • High level perspective;
  • Powerful;
  • Experienced;
  • Connected;
  • Supported by extensive expert pool; • Accessible;
  • Invisible to organisation;
  • Independent;
  • Any MIC can only have one client in any particular organisation.
  • Cost;
  • Any MIC can only have one client in any particular organisation.

When should it be used?

The MIC service should be used in the following contexts:

  • When a CEO or very senior manager needs a “strategic angel”;
  • When a CEO or very senior manager needs a confidante;
  • When an intimation of change may create distress in an organisation;
  • When the CEO or senior management have certain technical skills and capabilities but not others;
  • When the CEO or senior management believe that internal recommendations for initiatives and projects may be biased by self-interest;
  • When it is hard to determine a “good for business” view;
  • When a CEO needs independent validation or a “technical filter” from experts;
  • When a CEO or senior management struggle with balancing career and family;
  • “Stapled” to a new senior appointment.

Who should provide it?

A MIC is a professional, very senior and generally mature person with a broad and deep understanding of people, organisations, commercial processes, political processes and organisational systems and structures.

The MIC has superior talents in identifying root causes of issues and quickly providing options for action.

The MIC acts as a strategic angel, confidante, network pivot, devil’s advocate, “technical filter” and mentor who challenges, guides, suggests, helps, helps develop strategies, facilitates and coordinates for his/her client.

The relationship is guided by strict confidentiality, ethical, honest, open, sensitive, professional and forthright standards and discipline.

The relationship built between a client and a MIC often develops into life-long friendship.

What attributes and skills should the MIC possess?

  • Roles and Responsibilities
    A MIC is a confidante to senior managers and directors whose relationship with the client incorporates the following roles, responsibilities and duties:
    • Personal Vision
      • Helps the client develop a personal vision;
      • Helps the client strategise that personal vision.
    • Career
      • Helps the client develop a satisfying career path;
      • Helps the client strategise that career path.
    • Business Goals
      • Helps the client develop robust and viable business goals;
      • Helps the client strategise business goals.
    • Acts as
      • An oracle mentor;
      • A guiding light during good and bad times;
      • A trainer in communication and life skills;
      • A sounding board for ideas and concepts;
      • Challenger and devil’s advocate;
      • A life, business and executive coach rolled into one;
      • A partner in the client’s life plans and career.
    • Provides
      • Unconditional support and assistance;
      • Guidance and direction;
      • An independent view;
      • A conduit to external technical expertise when required;
      • Assistance in designing, managing or guiding major business or organisational change;
      • A wake-up call if certain signals and signs aren’t registering;
      • Sharing of wisdom;
      • Constructive feedback;
      • Option to refer to appropriate expert and independent resources, individuals and networks;
      • Confidential expert “shadow”.
  • Core Values of a MIC
    The core values of a MIC include:
    • Well-being of client is paramount;
    • Confidentiality of information and relationship;
    • Honesty in all dealings;
    • Ethical behaviour at all times;
    • Avoidance of partisan or self-interested advice.
  • Managing the relationship
    MICs and SMEs are retained only by JCG. The conventional feedback loop exists between JCG, the client and his/her organisation and is augmented with additional loops between JCG, the client and the SME to ensure that service, at its various levels, is continually providing value to the client and sponsoring organisation.

Managing the Relationship

  • Assessing Effectiveness
    The method to assess the effectiveness of a MIC is dictated by the success the client had in dealing with the business context and personal coping challenges.

    The following are some indicative criteria that an organisation might use to aid an assessment of the effectiveness of MIC:
    • Did the manager deal effectively with issues and challenges that he/she was confronted by?
    • Does the manager now have the acumen needed to make similar decisions alone?
    • Are the quality of decisions and decision-making more effective?
    • Was the mentoring process optimal?
    • Is the manager better able to cope / solve / deal with issues?
    • Is the manager more productive / effective in the present role?
    • Is the manager more productive as a result of the mentoring?
    • Was the cost of the MIC in proportion to the benefit delivered?
    • Was the duration of the mentoring optimal?
    • Is the manager able to recommend the MIC?
    • Were the MIC and/or JCG easy to deal with?
    • Were the feedback loops effective?
    • Has the manager emerged from the process a more confident / capable person?


Fees for MIC do not vary significantly but variation does exist. Some of the variables that impact price are:

  • Is the organisation retaining one or more MICs?
  • Ease or difficulty of getting a match between MIC and client;
  • The uniqueness of the client’s issues;
  • Time commitment required;
  • Seniority of the client;
  • Accessibility to the client;
  • Geographic location of both client and MIC;
  • Special needs for the disabled;
  • Special language requirements.

Value delivered

The value delivered has two key components – the client organisation and the client him/herself.

  • The Client Organisation
    The benefits to the Client organisation include:
    • Enhancement of the CEO and Senior Management capability through the provision of immediate, expert and independent advice to the organisation;
    • Benefits to the organisation far exceed the professional fees charged;
    • Bringing to the CEO a wide range of subject matter experts who are:
      • Free to the client;
      • Independent;
      • Do not push any particular solution or self-interest;
      • Provide the CEO with enhanced skills and capabilities;
      • Give the CEO both a theoretical and practical capability;
      • Provide the CEO with a confidante who can assess areas of technical speciality outside the skill-set of the client.
  • The Mentored Client
    The benefits to the Mentored Client include:
    • Enhancement of the client capability through the provision of immediate, expert and independent advice to the client;
    • Provision of commercial and life-counselling assistance that is totally invisible to the client organisation;
    • The assistance and advice passed on to the organisation is seen as that of the client and not of a third party, therefore the enhancement of the status of the client in the eyes of the organisation and its stakeholders;
    • Independent advice that can be relied upon;
    • Real-time access to MICs;
    • Real-time access to SMEs;
    • Use of “Intensive Workshops” to resolve any issues required by the client;
    • Give the CEO both a theoretical and practical capability;
    • Provide the CEO with a confidante who can assess areas of technical speciality outside the skill-set of the client.


Confidentiality is a crucial attribute of the MIC responsibility. The sponsoring organisation by virtue of its sponsorship, knows which executives are being mentored and what the key characteristics of the “needs” are in each mentoring relationship. However, in order to optimise the benefits to the client and the sponsoring organisation from the mentoring process, it is necessary, to define at the outset which areas and issues are “open” knowledge and to whom, and which need to remain confidential.

The diagram below, illustrates the complexity of the “overlaps” and the degree of clarification needed as part of the MIC / Client matching and commencement process:

Before a client and MIC commence their relationship, JCG facilitates and obtains agreement on, a Confidentiality Scoping Agreement. This agreement is intended to ensure that all parties clearly understand and agree what shall remain confidential between:

  • The employer and MIC;
  • The client and employer;
  • The client and MIC;
  • All three parties;

Confidentiality Structure

Confidentiality Structure

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