As a leader, you will often need to take time to develop those people around you; your peers and your team members.
This can be called mentoring.
A mentor is a trusted person that helps team members improve their performance.
Unlike coaches, mentors can be more guiding with direct advice and support as well as taking an active role in the individual’s development.
As a leader, you can be a mentor to your team members, but more often a mentor is outside of the normal reporting chain.
Here are a few tips on how to be a better mentor:
- Use a private space – The mentor / mentee relationship is built on trust and this is best achieved in a space that isn’t overlooked or within earshot of others. An office or small meeting room is ideal.
- Schedule your meetings – Treat the meeting as a formal event, with a schedule and agenda. At the end of the meeting agree and action plan with specific outcomes and a timescale for achievement.
- Be approachable – Sometimes senior people can take on a slightly austere persona. This isn’t a good impression to give when you are looking to build a trusting and supportive relationship.
- Be a good listener – Take in the whole communication; words, tone and body language.
- Encourage in a supportive way – There is a fine line between supporting and intimidating.
- Act as a sounding board – You are looking to have your mentee develop independence of thought. Being a sounding board to explore ideas and options is useful to help people think out loud without fear of being ridiculed.
- Be firm but fair – You are looking to develop your mentee. Steel isn’t made by wrapping it in cotton wool, but by being heated in a fire and beaten. A little extreme for a professional relationship, but being firm will ensure that your charge will understand and respect the process and relationship.
- Be prepared to play the Devil’s advocate – You are, after all, looking after the Companies needs as well as the mentee’s. Playing Devil’s advocate will help you challenge the ideas that you hear and so guide them towards the benefit of BOTH the mentee and the Company.
The role of mentor can be very rewarding both because you are developing the talent of the future but you are also relearning the process of thinking and innovating from the position of a mind that isn’t jaded from years of being in business.
Embrace the role and develop the next generation of leaders.
Dare to Aspire