In the process of writing Good to Great, Jim Collins’ team found that “great” companies have one thing in common: leaders who mentor others.
This could be due to the benefits that mentorship has in terms of developing up-and-coming employees in the organization. However, while many senior managers will speak to the influence their mentors have had on their careers, many will also point to the role that mentoring others has played in their development.
Wondering why it might be worth your limited time to seek out opportunities to mentor others? Here are 10 reasons:
Mentoring is an essential tool for achieving business goals
In today’s job market, top talent is hard to hold on to, and as we mentioned in a previous post, today’s top recruits are seeking careers at organizations where they will have development opportunities. Having a reputation as a manager who helps people thrive will contribute to talent gravitating towards you.
Additionally, an organization needs more than just top talent. It also needs solid players to back up the all-stars day-in and day-out. By mentoring these support troops, leaders can empower them with the skills to deal with changing realities, thus building an enterprise made of agile, engaged, skilled employees who can help drive your company toward its goals.
Enjoy the feeling of paying it forward
Most senior leaders will point to a mentor who played an incremental role in their rise to top. As Denzel Washington said in an interview, “Show me a successful individual and I’ll show you someone who had real positive influences in his or her life. I don’t care what you do for a living—if you do it well I’m sure there was someone cheering you on or showing the way. A mentor.” By becoming mentors themselves, leaders can enjoy the satisfaction of doing the same for someone else.
Managers seeking to make the jump to leadership must always be learning. They have to constantly be increasing their knowledge and maintaining awareness as to how are things going; what kinds of problems people are running into and what can be done better. Mentoring provides a stage for managers to develop this awareness and simultaneously build a strong, lasting relationship. Leaders can take from this question-and-answer process, which will provide them with perspective and insight that will help them in their day-to-day interactions, decision-making, and responsibilities as a team leader.
Establish new connections
You can never know too many people. The power of networking is undeniable, and mentoring is an opportunity for mentors to establish new relationships. As one mentor interviewed by Forbes noted, “By helping others, I’ve also created a network of allies I can rely upon when I need help.”
Learn and become better at your job
In the process of mentoring, mentors must learn about how things work at different levels and in other parts of their business in order to be able to discuss their mentees’ questions. This additional context will help managers gain insight that makes them better leaders. As Harvard Business Review points out, “Leaders have to place strategic changes… and goals into a broader organizational context, or they risk losing good talent, burning out managers, and wasting money on programs that don’t pay off.”
One manager from HP found that “people who are seen as mentors are granted higher credibility and are seen as higher performers.” Through mentoring, managers can gain positive visibility and thus provide added value to their enterprise.
Build soft skills
Mentorship often requires mentors to put themselves in their mentees’ shoes. This kind of empathy is equally important for leadership in the workplace, as it enables managers to build an understanding of what each employee needs and appropriately adjust their style. Similarly, the best mentors are able to establish a culture of trust in order to build a solid relationship with their mentees – this is similarly critical to developing a strong, engaged team in the workplace.
Develop a more strategic perspective
Heart-to-hearts between mentor and mentee can spark self-reflection and improve self-awareness. In this process of seeking information and reflecting in order to explain the “why,” mentors can become more in tune with the “big picture.” This perspective is an asset they can bring to their workplace and will serve them well in senior leadership roles.
Become a more effective coach
Coaching is a skill that must be learned and developed. It does not necessarily come naturally, yet it is a critical component to managing and leading others. A large component of mentorship is coaching, so in the process of mentoring, managers can flex this muscle and bring that newfound coaching skill to their teams in the workplace.
Become a better leader
As Lis Merrick, the UK President of the European Mentoring and Coaching Council points out, “Are there any mentoring skills which do not enhance the skills of a leader?”