To be effective, leaders need to develop their people and help them realize their potential. This requires leaders to take the role of coaches and mentors. A good way to develop this important leadership skill is to actually be a mentor.
For the last three years, I’ve been a mentor in a unique entrepreneurship accelerator program called A3I. This is an extremely valuable and fun experience for me. I greatly enjoy the interaction with the very passionate entrepreneurs in this program. Furthermore, I learn from them as much as they learn from me. And, it gives me great satisfaction to see them succeed, and make significant progress towards realizing their goals.
In this formal mentorship role, I get to work with the entrepreneurs during the course of the program. We typically have a face-to-face meeting every one or two weeks. During that meeting I ask them to update me on their status, and in particular, on their current challenge. I also invite them to bring up any issue or problem that they need my help with.
These sessions are a great opportunity for me to coach, advise, and share lessons that I’ve learned in my various experiences. At the same time, these discussions allow me to learn about their experiences and challenges.
As a result, this mentorship program has made me a better leader. So, I warmly recommend it to anyone who is already in a leadership role, or aspires to be a leader. Here is why.
You will be a better listener. To be a good mentor you need to help your proteges achieve their goals. Your primary role is to help them solve their problems. This requires you to actively listen to them. To ask clarifying questions so you truly understand their main obstacles or challenges. The better listener you become, the more helpful your advice and guidance will be.
Opportunity to practice empowerment. As a mentor, you have no real authority. It’s up to your proteges to take the necessary initiatives, and actions to solve their problems. Furthermore, they need to make the decisions and plans in order to succeed. Your role is to enable them to be successful. It’s a great practice of empowerment.
Servant leadership. A servant leader becomes a leader to serve. As defined by Robert K Greenleaf: “to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served”. A successful mentor needs to be a servant leader. His measurement of success is: Do his proteges grow? Do they become better, more successful?
In conclusion, being a mentor has many benefits. In addition to making you a better leader, it will also bring you great satisfaction and some meaningful experiences.