Why Every Leader Should Get a Mentor
Last week I attended a great seminar featuring senior leaders talking about how they had managed their careers. Every leader talked about the important role that mentors had played. Having recently helped launch the Professional Mentoring programme for CIPD North-East of England I was delighted to hear that and it prompted me to summarise the reasons why every leader should get a mentor
1. To get objective, unvarnished advice
A mentor can be a great sounding board for all issues – whether you are having difficulty with your immediate boss, an ethical dilemma, or need advice on how to tackle a new project or ask for a promotion. Don’t be afraid to spell out the need for confidentiality. Mentors and mentees need to share their stories and experiences and keep them within the boundaries of the relationship.
2. To gain immediate access to valuable insights and experiences
A mentor can give you the benefit of his or her perspective or experience. Get a mentor and he or she can help you understand what is required in a role or situation and give you an insider’s view on how to succeed.
3. To help you reflect on what you’re good at and how you can develop
A mentor can help you reflect on your achievements, helping you become more aware of what you do well and how you can build on that for future successes. They can also help you identify what you could do differently to get a better result.
4. To help you look at a situation in new ways
By sharing a different perspective, or giving additional information a mentor may help you to change your opinion, attitude or action. If we only draw on our own experience, we seriously limit the learning opportunity. Winston Churchill once said: “You have to learn from other people’s mistakes -you don’t have time to make them all yourself.”
5. To inspire and motivate you
Getting individual attention from someone whose work you admire can be a strong inspiration. When you get a mentor, it can also be very motivating to hear that theyexperienced similar challenges to the ones you are dealing with and found ways of overcoming them.
6. To build your confidence through guidance, help and support
A mentor may give you information, refer you to information or simply draw information from you. A mentor will share ideas and experience, and refer you to others for answers they don’t have.
7. To get learning and development within time and money constraints
A mentor can help you learn and develop efficiently and cost-effectively. A mentor will help you focus on the specific challenges you face right now. Then they will help you develop the knowledge, skills and experience you need to address them, giving immediate benefit to you and the organisation.
8. To help you apply new knowledge, skills and information within your organisational culture and business environment
A mentor will help you apply any new knowledge, skills and experience so it fits your specific needs and those of the organisation. Whatever the situation, a mentor will help you decide on practical actions to help you achieve your aims then check in with you to review and encourage progress.
9. To have a champion who can provide clear direction to positions in the organisation that match your interests and skills
To make progress in your organisation you will need the help, support and encouragement of others. A mentor can act as a sponsor and champion you to others in the organisation who have the kinds of opportunities you are looking for.
10. To open doors and expand your contacts and network
Raising your profile in your organisation and in your industry relies on you getting connected and expanding your network. A mentor can help expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances. A mentor can open doors within your company, in other companies and in your profession or industry.
Why else do you think every leader should get a mentor? Please share your thoughts.