The Mentor Leader – Developing Yourself and Your Staff
During the exit interviews that we conduct for clients, former employees often report that they are leaving because there is no career opportunity, they don’t know the process for advancement, or can’t unlock the code to other positions. As a leader, having the ability to mentor others and recognizing the importance of having your own mentors are powerful tools for personal and organizational development.
A person may have several mentors, each providing a different piece of what we need for success. For example, you might have a mentor to support your professional development, another who stimulates creativity, one who can teach you to be a better listener, and someone else who develops your management skills. Mentors can impact different facets of our lives, developing us in many ways.
Mentoring is also an opportunity to give back. One benefit of being a mentor that is not apparent until one has the experience is that learning flows both ways. The mentor learns from the mentee, and vice versa. The growth process is reciprocal.
Mentor relationships must be sought and given proactively. While many believe that having the right mentor is a matter of being at the right place at the right time, establishing a mentor/mentee relationship can be strategic as well. The key to selecting a good mentor is first to identify what (not who) you need. Thinking about your career needs and the help you require will enable you to seek and select a mentor whose talents and experiences will be most beneficial.
Being able to share knowledge and wisdom with others are criteria for successful mentoring. Your ability to provide good advice on career goals, increasing visibility, and enhancing growth opportunities will not only benefit the mentee, but will improve your influence as a leader in your organization.
Mentoring is not a complicated process, as you may simply give pointers for improvement in your mentee’s daily work, or create opportunities for your staff to succeed.
The key to successful mentoring is commitment to the growth and development of another individual, particularly regarding their skills, abilities, and understanding in the following areas:
- The organization’s culture, mission and goals
- The rationale behind policies and procedures
- How to improve productivity
- Opportunities for job advancement and promotion
- The effect of external events on the mentee’s job
- How their organization compares to others
- What is happening in other areas of the company
- Where the organization stands on local, regional, and national issues
- How to build important relationships
- How to deal with work-life issues
- How to deal with conflict
- Key success indicators valued by senior executives
The extent to which the mentor invests in the process, is directly proportionate to the self-development that the mentor will receive as a result.