7 ways great leaders are also great mentors

Wednesday, March 2, 2016 - 10:27

If we consider the fact that great leaders do not generate more followers, they generate more leaders, then it stands to reason that a great leader also needs to be a great mentor. How else will you really build strong leadership skills in your employees? Mentoring requires time and effort but then so does good leadership. It is an investment in your employees to develop their skills that will pay great dividends.

One of the fundamental differences between a leader and a manager is the ability to mentor well. A manager is focused on productivity and results while a leader is also focused on the job satisfaction and professional development of the staff who work for them. Mentoring is fundamental to professional growth and success. Read about any highly successful person and they will usually mention the important role mentors played in their journey. For myself, I’ve always believed strongly in the benefits of mentors both having and being one. For as long as I’ve been in business I have had a mentor, in recent years I have also been a mentor. Both roles deliver a significant amount of value and satisfaction. So how do we be a great mentor? The following tips will show you how.

Be both a mentor and a mentee

Aside from the fact that having a mentor will benefit you professionally it also sends a clear message to those you mentor. It is difficult to espouse the value of mentoring when you aren’t prepared to have one yourself.

Understand your WHY

A purpose is vital to effective leadership, knowing it and sharing it with your team. You need to know why you do what you do. It is the same with mentoring, knowing and sharing the purpose of the relationship with your mentee will give you both clarity and the ability to set clear goals.

Be consistent

Mentoring is not an occasional activity. Set up a timetable and meet regularly; once a week, a fortnight or a month. Be committed, don’t cancel sessions for any other reason than it is unavoidable.

Commit to being honest

Remember that you’re not there to make friends, your goal is to help your mentee to grow. Be honest. Genuine feedback will help them so much more than false compliments.

Add value

If your main objective is to add value to your mentee the entire experience will be more positive for both of you. When you do have a mentoring session be fully present with no distractions. Spend a little time after the session to reflect on what was covered and be ready to follow up on your mentee’s progress.

Lead by example

Like leadership, mentoring should be done by example. You cannot give solid advice when it is clearly obvious that you don’t follow it yourself. Take an objective look at yourself, are you practising what you preach?

Be a great listener

It is important that you listen to the challenges, goals and aspirations of your mentee. Take the time to really understand where they are coming from, if there is any doubt, ask more questions to get the full story. Sometimes, just verbalising our thoughts can lead to clarity. Unless it is relevant, don’t let the conversation become about you or your experience.

About the Author: Alison Vidotto is an award-winning author, professional speaker, CEO of Vidotto Group, leadership trainer and Founder and Managing Director of the Australian Charity for the Children of Vietnam.