A CEO’s 5 Top Tips For New Mentors
The transition from mentee to mentor is an exciting tipping point in the career of many leaders. Just as you would have benefited immensely from your mentors’ guidance so too, will your new mentees benefit from yours. But what is it really like to sit at the other side of the table? What does it really mean to mentor someone?
Here are five pointers to start your mentor-mentee relationship off on the right track, and importantly, ensure your mentee flourishes under your mentorship.
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1. Fill a need. Too often, mentors go into a coaching session feeling like they have to preach, prove their intelligence or impart wisdom. But you would not attempt to solve a client’s problem without first assessing their needs, so take the same approach with your mentee. Find out what they want to achieve or overcome – professionally, personally and financially. What negative feedback have they received in their careers? What are their blind spots? Let them identify their own goals and areas for growth, and then provide them with tailored guidance to build the specific capabilities they need.
2. Drive accountability. For mentoring sessions to be truly valuable, they should be more than just a casual bi-monthly chat at a café. Again, approach these sessions as you would a client report. Start by going over the goals and learnings from the previous session, ask your mentee to share how they have used tools they have learnt and assess the outcomes. The best way to learn is through practice, and if your mentee cannot share real life scenarios that demonstrate how they have applied their newfound knowledge, then they are not learning. End each session with a new set of goals.
3. Beware the clone. Everyone wants to feel like they fit in, so it is natural for mentees to unconsciously take on some of their mentor’s style whether it is communication, leadership or even appearance. But diversity is critical to building profitability and innovation in businesses. It is your responsibility as a mentor therefore, to embrace the unique style and approach of your mentee and be vigilant if they inadvertently start taking on your mannerisms, language and leadership style. Your job is to ignite the talent of a unique new leader. The world does not need executive clones.
4. Open the right doors. Playing the role of mentor is so much more than dishing out advice. If you really want to help your mentees progress, you have to be practical in your support. This means putting your money where your mouth is and being their champion by opening the right doors for them. Introduce them to other influential executives within your company or sector, invite them on committees and sponsor them for exclusive networking events. Do not just take on the title of mentor, actually help light the path for them.
5. Pass it on. There may come a point where your bright young star will outgrow you and is ready to take the next step forward. If you know you have taken them as far as you are able, it may be time to introduce them to people in the professional tier above you. This alone could be the most powerful investment you make in helping them drive their career forward.
Kate Middleton is the CEO of Censeo and the founder of online career development company, Career Oracle. She is the youngest and only female CEO of an engineering company in Australia and is known for turning bricks and mortar businesses into high-volume, technology-driven profit machines.
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