Why Even Senior Leaders Can Use Mentors
A good mentor can shorten the learning curve and prevent the leader from making costly mistakes
The concept of mentoring is quite common in junior and middle-level corporate roles. It typically involves an experienced professional or subject matter expert guiding a ‘mentee’ in various nuances related to the latter’s role and responsibilities. Mentors are vital for knowledge-building and career progression. A good mentor also boosts the mentee’s self-esteem and morale.
However, senior-level professionals also need mentors just as much as junior employees. This is because senior managers or CEOs have to make critical decisions all through the day. Sometimes, these decisions may have to do with contexts that the leader has never dealt with before or where (s)he needs to take an objective view of things. In such cases, a mentor can shorten the learning curve and prevent the leader from making costly mistakes.
Benefits of Mentors for Senior Leaders
- Knowledge-transfer: Not all knowledge is stored in books. And not everything found in books is usable in real-world contexts either. Mentors usually have large amounts of accumulated practical knowledge and/or experiences that they worked hard to earn. By choosing the right mentor, senior managers can quickly ‘download’ this knowledge rather than getting it the hard way — through trial and error.
- Feedback: High quality feedback is critical for leadership success. A mentor gives you objective and clear feedback that enables you to reassess your approach and explore an alternative solution. By giving you timely feedback, mentors shorten your learning curve.
- Realistic goals: The overwhelming pressure that comes with senior roles can lead newly-appointed leaders to set unrealistic goals for their business or team. And not being able to achieve those goals can be morale-shattering. Mentors help their mentees set achievable goals and encourage them to aim for higher, yet realistic, goals.
Try Manah's free emotional wellbeing assessment now!
4. Accountability: A mentor keeps track of their mentee’s progress. Therefore, the leader is held accountable and therefore is more likely to focus on his/her key tasks without getting distracted or swept away by the other demands of their hectic jobs.
5. Learning team-building skills: Mentors don’t just coach mentees on operational tasks; they also teach them to become better people managers. These people-management skills, such as active listening, giving and receiving criticism positively, collaborating, and communicating, are crucial for leaders.
In-Office Games for Team Building
6. Networking: Newly-appointed senior leaders may not have all the connections they need to ensure a smooth start. Mentors can step into this gap by making the much-needed connections with potential clients, partners, or industry bodies. This will open up doors for the leader and encourage them to explore new connections.
7. Problem-solving: Mentors bring in a fresh external perspective, unencumbered by the organisational dynamics or administrative minutiae that may cloud the thinking of leaders. This clarity is extremely beneficial for any leader to have, since it can help them address complex problems with relative ease.
These are only a few of the many benefits senior leaders can access by finding a good mentor. However, finding such a person may not be as easy as it sounds. Follow these few steps to find yourself the right mentor in no time:
Finding the Right Mentor
Join forums and communities in your field. Expanding your contacts will help you meet many experienced professionals with invaluable advice to give. You can begin by privately messaging them, and asking them simple questions to evaluate whether they will be the right fit for you.
Ask your former bosses or colleagues
Professionals whom you have previously worked with, or those who used to handle your role or a similar one, are also potential mentors. Reach out to them and ask them if they are willing to mentor you. Most people are usually happy to pass on the skills they have gained over a lifetime.
With these simple steps, you can easily find a mentor who will guide you in your journey towards personal and professional success.