How Mentorship Makes You a Better Leader
Why should you consider becoming a mentor? Leaders often express reasons for not becoming a mentor, including:
“I don't have time. I don't have the right skills. My personality isn't suitable.”
For the most part, these are excuses, not reasons. We all have more time, skills, and insight than we think. And with the right training, mentoring can be an incredible experience for both mentee and mentor!
Before you pull out a reason to say "no," consider these three reasons why mentoring can make you a better leader.
1. Mentoring is an Opportunity to Apply Your Skills To a New Challenge
Mentorship doesn't mean creating another version of yourself. Your real goal is developing someone to become the best version of themselves. Mentorship is a peer-to-peer relationship where one individual is more knowledgeable, but the mentor/mentee relationship isn't focused on teaching. (Though this often happens.) Instead, because each person, leader, and organization is different, great mentors don’t expect their personal solutions to neatly fit into a mentee’s life. This reality makes mentorship a process of listening, observing, and mutual problem solving, rather than outright teaching.
In turn, a mentor has the opportunity to learn how they'd apply their hard-won skills to a new challenge. Critical thinking skills are pivotal for influential mentors. These leaders take the intuition they've developed a focus on how they would handle a situation they are only tangentially aware of. This process sharpens the mentor's ability to grow their own leadership acumen.
2. Mentoring Improves Your Ability to Build a Relationship.
Since every mentor/mentee relationship is unique, the best mentors take time to understand your mentee's motivations, goals, and weaknesses. Mentees will come into the relationship with different levels of excitement, stress, curiosity, and it may take weeks to come out of their shell.
The challenge for mentors is to create an environment where mentees feel completely comfortable sharing their needs. As the seasoned leader in the relationship, if your mentee seems timid, they may be holding back, believing that only the best questions are worth your time. This often leads mentees to wait too long to bring difficult challenges to your attention.
Mentoring helps you develop the critical skill of approachability. It’s an opportunity for you to communicate and empathize with someone, helping them grow. When your mentee feels totally comfortable sharing the most challenging situations with you, without hesitation, you know you’re on the road to success. Over time your mentee will learn how to make the most of your mentorship. And, ideally, a mentee will gain confidence in answering their questions.
3. Share Your Mistakes and How You Learned From Them.
It feels almost like everyone senior to yourself has you all figured out at the beginning of a career. It can be terrifying to make mistakes with the fear of looking like a complete idiot. Maybe you remember feeling the same?
But the truth is, we all make mistakes. However experienced someone may be, they are always still learning. They had to tackle some unfamiliar tasks and inevitably made a mistake.
As a leadership mentor, it's up to you to break through the barrier between you and your mentee. Why not tell a story about a time when you were faced with a similar challenge to theirs, or share a humorous anecdote detailing a stuff up you made. Storytelling is an effective way to get people's attention and make your point, so use it as an opportunity to impart some wisdom. Open up, be honest about your mistakes and reveal your own vulnerability. It makes you infinitely more human, approachable, and a better leader.
We at Branches have found these three traits within our mentors have brought positive outcomes to our leaders. There has been development not only within their businesses but within their families and communities as well. Before pairing them with our leaders, all of our leaders were facing problems of insecurity.
Our leader from Nicaragua, Narlly Mendez, wanted a mentor who could speak into the art of balancing family and work. Narlly is not only the founder of Dario Christian Academy, but she is also a leader at her church, a wife, a sister, a daughter, and a mother. Narlly desired to have a mentor who understood the complexities of wearing multiple hats throughout the day. She ended up hand-selecting one of our mentors, Beth Beechy. Beth Beechy has been involved in 3 radical mentorship programs within New Pointe Community Church since 2015. Narlly desired to connect with a mentor who could pour into her spiritually and relationally, and create sustainable strategies when it comes to her business and her family.
So far, Narlly and Beth have been involved in mentorship for close to a year, which has produced great results. This year, Narlly was able to come into a new school year with a refreshed vision and mission statement to grow spiritually both personally and collectively as a team at Dario Christian Academy. Her leadership team has been able to spend time in prayer and the Word, and personal time with the staff as a whole.
Narlly has felt that the words of wisdom shared with her in the mentoring sessions have helped her flourish as she continues to apply them to her everyday life. In her own words, Narlly has stated:
“I think the mentoring relationship is going great. I feel I have asked a lot from Beth and even from Linda and they have given of their time and wisdom so willingly. I feel cared for and known. I feel blessed to be challenged and encouraged so much by such a godly woman. Her prayers and words have been of so much good for myself, my family, and school. I just long to meet Beth and Linda someday soon!”
As we continue to see Narlly and Beth’s mentorship blossom, we are excited to see how our other leaders and their mentors will develop relationally in the next years to come. Our leader from Costa Rica, Christian Bolaños, owner of the Altmar Seafood Company, found Mark Coblentz, owner of Walnut Creek Foods, as the perfect fit for a mentor, as both are involved in the food industry. Pit hopes with this mentorship, he can find creative and effective ways to use Altmar to spread the gospel in San Jose.
Our leader from the Dominican Republic, William Ventura, chose Rodd Welker, founder of Eagle Advisor Group, as someone who could coach him in leadership development and maximize William’s potential and performance. William has ambitions to start a residency program and continue to grow his practice within the Dominican Republic, and Rodd stood out to him as someone who could help him achieve these goals.
Aubrey Stewart, our leader in Jamaica, is not only the Founder and Group CEO for the Highlights Holding Company, but works for the Jamaican Department of Defense, and will soon become a Fulbright scholar. Aubrey’s goals are to improve and continually grow professionally as a public figure, and the goal to be prime minister. Grow mentally and become a Fulbright scholar. And who is not better as his mentor, than the former governor of Alaska, and current attorney, Shaun Parnell, to be there to guide him.
When you decide to mentor someone, you really have no way of knowing how far he or she will go. Whether you shape the next great entrepreneur of our time or help someone achieve her dreams, you'll make a difference, and that's all that matters. Give a new generation the encouragement and support that will help them make the most of their potential. You may not think that you have much to offer at this stage of your career, but engaging with someone who has had an entirely different background can be immensely rewarding for both of you.