Leaders Find Mentors

Today, more than ever, leaders are active champions of mentoring. However, while many leaders enthusiastically mentor others, they often don’t have mentors themselves.

We believe mentoring is a fundamental leadership competency. Effective leaders “enable others to act” (Kouzes & Posner) by strengthening themselves and others. However, it is difficult to strengthen others if you are not committed to your own development. This means investing in yourself by becoming a mentee.

In its very best practice, mentoring is a reciprocal and collaborative learning relationship in which individuals share mutual responsibility and accountability for achievement of clear learning outcomes. Leaders must first determine what they need to learn, master, improve or develop and then recruit a mentor who is skilled or knowledgeable in those areas.

What do you need to take your own leadership to the next level? Let’s look at some examples.

Do you need a brain to pick? Are you seeking a mentoring partner with whom you can get some fresh ideas? This is what Carlos was looking for in a mentor. He felt isolated in his leadership role in the field; he had no other colleagues to share and exchange ideas. Carlos recruited a mentor from headquarters so that he could tap into the wisdom of a more experienced leader before making key decisions.

Do you need another set of eyes? Joyce wanted a mentor to give her additional perspectives as she analyzed problems. Coming from an HR background, she sought a mentor with more technical experience to test out her approaches and presentations.

Do you need an ear to listen or a shoulder to lean on? A mentor is neither your therapist nor counselor, but she can give you frank and timely feedback. Stuart sought out a mentor with whom he could talk openly and honestly, and who wasn’t someone with whom he worked. He wanted a mentor who would listen to him as he talked through a problem and someone who would push him in the right direction when he was off-base. He felt comfortable and confident knowing he had someone in his corner who was keeping him from making critical mistakes.

Mentoring is an opportunity for you to develop new competencies and skills, hone existing ones, and leverage your own learning. Leaders who are clear about what they need are more likely to have successful mentoring relationships.

Have you thought about what you truly need from a mentor?

Read more about Senior Leaders Can Benefit from Working With a Mentor in Leadership in Action, click here