I recently hosted an edition of the Grayline Group’s CATALYST TALKS with Janice Omadeke of Mentor Method. It was a very insightful ten minute discussion about how Janice, as CEO of Mentor Method, alongside her team, is keying into the potential of mentoring to help mentees meet the changing needs of the future. You might want to check out that talk here!
That CATALYST TALK was a soul-searching moment for me, this stemmed from the fact that mentorship, as a mentee (also known as a protege), came early in my career. In the recently published ‘Grand Guide to Mentorship,’ I disclosed details of my mentorship relationship with the late General Bob Cone, which started while he was my Squadron Commander in the Army.
Why CEOs and Human Resources leaders should care
There is an unmistakable long term financial reason for business leaders to understand mentorship.
More than ever, people will need (productive) mentorship to succeed in business or advance their careers. A groundbreaking 2008 research published by the Harvard Business Review revealed vital facts about mentorship and mentoring;
- Mentorship drives better performance.
- Effective mentoring may help boost career advancements, and
- Improved work-life satisfaction can be a by-product of a good mentor-mentee relationship.
And for those three reasons, productive mentorship can reduce turnover in a company and results in long term success in people and the financial bottomline.
My first mentoring relationship as a mentee
That mentoring relationship with Bob helped me discover the ability to tap into resources, pursue opportunities, and create a feedback loop that I strongly feel everyone can benefit from, whether it’s in a business setting or their professional career.
Although not every mentoring relationship yields positive results, my experiences as a mentor and mentee have largely been a transformational learning and growth experience. I’ve seen too many potential mentees struggle to find insightful and beneficial mentorship opportunities. What should high-impact mentoring relationships look like? I’ll be drawing on my wealth of experience to discuss how to establish productive mentoring relationships.
Mentorship: A Brief Introduction
Time and time again people have tried to assign their own meanings to what mentorship should and shouldn’t be. In the original Grand Guide to Mentorship, I mentioned that mentorship can mean a variety of things for different folks. I’d like to quote Business News Daily here;
“A mentor is a seasoned professional who informally helps guide a lesser experienced person in their professional endeavors.”
To put this in perspective;
- The ‘seasoned professional’ is the mentor, while the lesser experienced person is the ‘mentee.’
- The two-way relationship they share is what mentorship is.
In a previous paper I authored, Mentorship: Not Everybody Gets It But Should, I discussed how mentors help mentees develop an all-around view of themselves, their environment, and their world. I also went into detail about my mentorship relationship with General Bob Cone, discussing how mentorship is really about standing on the shoulders of giants whose mistakes and successes you can learn from to improve your life.
The different types of mentorship
Mentorship also comes in different forms.
While there is no consensus on how many kinds of mentorships there are, I like to go with the University of California’s classification of three main types of mentorship. These include a traditional mentorship programs wherein senior professionals take less-experienced junior colleagues under their wings, distance mentoring such as virtual mentorship programs where participants are in different locations, and group mentoring where a mentor mentors a group of mentees.
Mentors come in different forms, as well.
Such as those mentors whose focus might be to help you hone your strengths towards professional excellence. Anthony Tjan, CEO of Cue Ball Group, calls this type of mentor the “master of craft” mentor. There is also the “champion of your cause” mentor, “copilot” mentor, “anchor” mentor, and ”reverse” mentor, according to Anthony. All of these mentors play slightly different roles, you may have some or all of them for different areas of your business, career, and life.
Coaching and mentoring: Differences and intersection
In the previously mentioned Mentorship: Not Everybody Gets It But Should, I discussed just how a mentor’s role differs from the scope of a boss or a coach.
While coaching and mentorship overlap in some areas they are worlds apart. Granted that they require very similar skills and are invaluable for personal and professional development, the key difference would be that while coaching is performance-driven, mentorship is development-driven.
Coaching is formal and usually has a short time-frame. It is evaluative, repeatable, and primarily driven by the coaching relationship’s purpose and agenda. However, mentorship is long-term, non-evaluative, more personalized, and largely tilted to meet the mentee’s agenda and expectations.
Establishing high-impact mentoring relationships
Mentorship can make a lot of difference in your personal and professional development, the first challenge many face is how to establish it. In that Grand Guide to Mentorship, I highlighted four tips that may be helpful in this case;
- Having clearly defined goals is always the first step, which requires critical self-assessment and evaluation of your strengths and weaknesses.
- Finding mentorship opportunities from the right channels, such as those in your network.
- Paying heed to mentoring rules of engagement as this can make or mar your chances of securing mentoring opportunities.
- Understanding the role of honesty, loyalty, and transparency in productive mentoring relationships.
- Proper follow-up and a show of genuine appreciation following every meeting.
However it’s important to acknowledge that there’s no one-size-fits-all formula for establishing productive mentoring.
Relationships can be developed from different places, from your professional circle to online networks, events, etc. Regardless, following these tips will still go a long way in laying a great foundation for any mentoring relationship.
Career and personal development do not start and stop with mentoring. However if you’re yearning for growth and progression, it’s a must-have you’ll need through your journey.
My first real experience of the power of mentorship started with General Bob Cone. Bob’s mentorship greatly influenced my life in the Army, even after I left to pursue my entrepreneurial ambitions. He remained an influential figure in my life until his death from cancer, his death was and still remains a significant loss for me.
Bob’s mentorship role shaped my approach to a lot of things in the Army and beyond.
This is why to this day, I’m still grateful for that opportunity. If you fancy professional development (and you should), having a great mentor giving you valuable advice and guidance is something you should greatly consider.
This post was culled from the more comprehensive The Grand Guide to Mentorship by Joseph Kopser. You might want to check that post out here!
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