Keys to optimizing your long distance mentoring relationship
3 Key Reasons All Great Leaders Have Mentors
What do Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have in common?
“Our chief want in life is somebody who will make us do what we can.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson
It might not seem like it, but the internet is new. We have gotten so used to being able to access our entire personal and corporate affairs from a digital window everyone carries in their pocket that it is difficult to remember a time when you couldn’t whip out a phone and reach someone on the other side of the world with the click of a button. Technology has enabled us to control business through a laptop, get a ride to the airport using an app and have our groceries delivered right to our doorstep without ever having to speak to another human being.
While all these breakthroughs in technology have made things fantastically immediate, we often forget that certain “human elements” will never be replaced. Nothing will ever substitute a mentor passing down hard earned information to a protege. Though technology has completely shifted the face of education in schools and the workplace, we still live in a world populated by people and the best teachers will always be other people. The platforms of communication might change and maybe a mentor will help guide through a screen, a book or an e-mail but the human element is always what will makes the system work.
Mentorship has been a vital process in the development of future leaders and thinkers since humans have been around. Back in 400 B.C., Socrates mentored Plato on modern philosophy and logic. Plato picked up his own mentee and Aristotle became as famous as his predecessors. This tradition of a mentor passing on what he knows and helping a younger mind along has just an important roll today as it did in 400 B.C. Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg. The two became close and frequently walked Palo Alto together. When Steve passed, Mark posted: “Steve, thank you for being a mentor and a friend. Thanks for showing that what you build can change the world. I will miss you.”
Warren Buffett was a mentor to Bill Gates. Gates has mentioned that over the years he turned to Buffett when having to make tough choices in life and in business. Maya Angelou acted as a guiding hand for Oprah Winfrey. When asked about their relationship, Oprah publicly stated: “She [Maya] was there for me always, guiding me through some fo the most important years of my life. Mentors are important, and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship.”
Technology can’t replace the human connection of mentorship, but it can facilitate the process and boost the interaction. Trail blazing pioneers, Mentor Resources formulated a proven mentoring process gleaned from years of successful mentoring interactions that provides best practices and expert personalized matching. Like anything, mentoring has it’s own do’s and don’ts, successful actions and pitfalls. We know them all. Mentor Resources proprietary software provides your mentorship program with all the tools you need to monitor and guide the mentorship process so everyone wins.
One of the huge benefits of using an employee development program is your future company leaders will be developed and mentored into their destined positions by your veteran staff. Our system is simple and enables you to supervise the entire process.
The first step to developing your future leaders is to spot them. This is easy to do. Employees who are proactive, reliable and who seem to take control of their environment within the structure of the work environment are good candidates for future leadership roles. It is important to look beyond people with degrees. Degrees are important and they can be a good barometer to judge talent at a glance, but they don't always indicate leadership skills.
Here’s an example: Alex has the minimal amount of credentials needed for his job. He doesn’t have an MBA or PHD like some of his colleagues, but he works longer hours and you notice that several of his co-workers frequently go to him for advice. People seem to like him and whenever he is in the room things seem brighter and more productive. On paper, he isn’t as qualified as some of his co-workers, but observing him at work, it’s obvious he is personable and someone others won’t only listen to, but will work for.
So Alex only has an associate’s degree, but in addition to the soft-skills, you’ve noticed he shows initiative in his own work and has a knack for numbers. Can Alex be developed into a real accounting department leader? Could he become a future CFO?
Likely not without a mentor.
It’s been decided that Alex is a future, high-potential leader. The company wants to develop him, make sure he is retained and grows. With Mentor Resources’s technology, Alex is paired with the perfect mentor from upper financial management. A series of proven criteria are used to ensure Alex and his mentor are a good fit and both sides will win in the relationship.
Other than drinking coffee every once and awhile what does Alex’s mentor do for him? There are three major benefits future leaders get from mentorship.
1 – Mentorship pushes people outside their comfort zone.
I think everyone can agree that very little substantial ground is gained within the comfort zone. A mentor can help a person think in different ways and push the beyond the limits of what they consider possible.
Great leaders bring something different to the table, often it is something that no one else in their field, or even the world, is ready or skilled enough to pull off. It could be massive like a new piece of technology that changes society forever or something a little more subtle and undetectable like a new HR approach to handling inter-office conflicts. But great leaders often don’t do these things without being introduced to new perspectives by mentors.
When pairing mentors to future leaders there is a lot to consider to ensure a good match. But it really boils down to a three main types of mentoring:
- The Challenger – This mentor will constantly question things like limits, thought processes, work habits and will get future leaders to look at the why behind their comfort zone. These types of questions are designed to eventually dissolve one’s comfort zone until it is much larger or gone.
- The Cheerleader – This mentor is the confidence booster. It’s like having constant validation of the good things being accomplished, building a sort of mindset that anything can be done with the right perspective and hard work.
- The Coach – This is a wizened veteran who provides the knowledge needed to innovate. The Coach has been through it and can advise about the future pitfalls and inevitable adversities the mentee will face.
What is most important when it comes to matching a mentor with a future leader is what the goal of the relationship is. Does the future leader need an emotional boost or an intellectual one? Perhaps a combination of both. All these factors are taken into consideration when picking good matches.
2 – Mentorship teaches people how to accept and give feedback.
One of the most difficult things in a professional setting is giving constructive criticism. It can be incredibly challenging to correct someone without making them feel totally invalidated. Often times, we intend to help and our advice is mistaken for insult.
A good mentor will be giving criticism all the time. This forces the future leader to learn how to accept feedback. As he moves up the corporate structure, there will be more and more eyes on him. This means increased criticism and a mentor can guide him on how to deal with this in small doses to prepare him.
Through mentorship, the future leader will also observe how his mentor is delivering constructive criticism to him. This relationship will apprentice him on the soft-skills necessary to deliver criticism that isn’t abrasive. He will learn how to build others up to their full-potential.
3 – Mentorship reduces stress and lets the pressure off.
The workplace can be a pressure cooker. Not only are there deadlines and the day-to-day tasks that come with any job, but there are added social stresses incidental to working with a group. Future leaders often feel more pressure than their peers as they are dealing with the additional stress of preparing to take on more responsibility. Mistakes made in a leadership position clearly can be much more detrimental to corporate health than ones made at the bottom of the totem pole.
A mentor can help a future leader cope with all this by acting as a confidant. A future leader can go to his mentor and download all his business and life problems. This can be invaluable to his development and productivity. It can’t be overstated how priceless it can be to your future leader for him to have someone he can go to for advice who not only will listen, but will have complete empathy because they have been through it before.
The core of mentorship is forming a great relationship centered around mutual passion. While mentorship and friendship have many similarities, they are not the same thing. Mentorship, in order to reach its full potential, must have total honesty, perfect communication and frequent contact. It can take work, but when done right the amount of satisfaction and power generated by this relationship can be immeasurable.
Taking this one step further, Mentor Resources has designed software that blends technology into the age old methods of mentorship. Without software to guide the process, there is no way to oversee mentorship successfully on a larger scale. There are simply too many factors for HR Executives to manage. Our software handles everything from matching, to monitoring interactions, plans and knowledge transfer and allows total supervision of the entire scope of an employee development program. It creates and measures success.
Your companies futures leaders are already within your ranks. And with the combination of Mentor Resource’s proprietary technology and carefully mapped out mentorship they will grow into the power houses they were destined to be.