Fundamental #28: Be a Mentor
The 30 Fundamentals that make up the “ConnectSMART Way” describe how we want to run our business – the way we treat our clients, the way we work with each other, and even the way we relate to our vendors and suppliers. They’re who we are and they’re the foundation of our success. They drive everything we do, every day. Each week we focus on a different fundamental and discuss in depth.
Fundamental #28: Be a Mentor
Take responsibility, both formally and informally, to coach, guide, teach, and mentor others. Sharing knowledge strengthens our team.
At first blush this looks like an easy fundamental. Of course we all want to help others and be a mentor! But mentoring is not just telling or showing someone how to do something. The idea of mentoring is to pass on experiences and knowledge that you may have learned the hard way to another so that they can be more successful without having to go through the same difficulties. The purest mentoring relationship is probably the relationship between a parent and child. Our role as a parent is not to just keep them out of trouble but to train them by leveraging our own past success and failures to allow them to leapfrog our own accomplishments. The phrase of making our ceiling their floor really captures this thought. In order to do this we have the foundation of trust, communication, and time. For anyone who has kids (or has ever been a kid) you know that it doesn’t t
ake simply telling a child one time for them to ‘get it’. The same is true of mentoring in a professional environment. It all starts with trust and relationship. This fundamental is about sharing knowledge. There are different ways to share that knowledge. Whether in coaching, teaching, or mentoring – all are important, yet we focused on mentoring. Coaching, guiding, and teaching are task focused and have clear results of success, but mentoring takes a long-term commitment. Not to just getting across information but about making each one of us better human beings. Coaching is more about fixing a problem or getting a specific outcome while mentoring is about developing people
This fundamental is about sharing knowledge. There are different ways to share that knowledge. Whether in coaching, teaching, or mentoring – all are important, yet we focused on mentoring. Coaching, guiding, and teaching are task focused and have clear results of success, but mentoring takes a long-term commitment. It is not just about getting across information but about making each one of us better human beings. Coaching is more about fixing a problem or getting a specific outcome while mentoring is about personal growth for both parties.
So do you have what it takes to be a mentor? Here are some questions to ask yourself.
- Can you offer an ear, and not necessarily advice?
- Does your schedule permit a mentoring relationship?
- Are you willing to share your knowledge, expertise, skills, and time?
- Can you motivate the mentee to reach their full potential?
- Can you use your personal experience to help your mentee avoid mistakes and learn from good decisions?
- Can you guide the mentee to determine his/her right course of action; not preach or dictate?
- Do you project a positive, upbeat image? Are you a positive role model?
- Can you offer your thoughts and constructive feedback honestly and openly?
- Can you help your mentee see a situation with fresh eyes?
- Can you offer advice – only if asked? Your mentee may want a sounding board to help him/her work out issues and come to their own conclusion.
- Can you offer support and encouragement?
These questions are tied into the traits common of a mentor.
- Are Accessible
- Provide Insight
- Provide a Positive Influence
- Are Honest and Open
- Provide a Fresh Perspective
- Offer Advice
- Are Cheerleaders
I must admit if I am honest with myself that I couldn’t answer yes to all of these questions, although I would have thought I could provide all of these character traits. How do you stack up? I think we all want to grow our teams and companies, but sometimes we get in our own way. I believe this list gives us some specific things that we can all work on. As we work on our mentoring abilities with each other I believe this list gives us some food for thought and things we can all work on. Don’t be discouraged if you find yourself lacking, but commit to working on these yourself so that you can be a mentor to others. Don’t be afraid to ask someone else to help you work on these traits as well. We all need a mentor, Jim Collins was mentored by Peter Drucker, Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Marc Andreessen – the list goes on. Remember mentoring is about growing not fixing p
So as we focus on mentoring this week, ask yourself how you can be a better mentor and look for someone to help mentor you. It is always a two-way street. Whether you are the mentor or mentee the mentoring relationship is both parties growing. Invest in those relationships and consciously work on those areas where you don’t excel in the traits of a mentor. You can’t force mentorship on anyone it has to be desired. So make yourself a desirable mentor and we can all learn more together and strengthen not only our team and organizations but ourselves.