What the Best Mentors Do...

Updated: Sep 17, 2018

Harvard Business Review - February 27,2017, Anthony K. Tjan writes that thru his studies over the last few years he sees a pattern of how the best  mentor do what they do best.  In reading his article  he noticed that best leaders did not just teach others but they showed them how to be leaders.   I agree and have experienced that  if you are only working to teach someone a skill then they will only know the skill.  If you work to mentor them into being a leader at that skill then you are that further along in their further development.  Over the years I have been at many levels of management and I can say that succession planning has been a reoccurring obstacle at every level of Leadership.  Management as a trend  seem to lose track of the importance of succession planning until they have a vacancy and realize that they must seek outside individuals to fill the position.  When  you are  mentoring leaders as your goal then you are already taking the lead on this challenge called succession planning.   

During his research Mr. Tjan noticed four things that best mentors do:

Put the Relationship before the mentorship: do not take mentorship as a check box procedure.  I value the opinion also that it takes a real sense of caring and understanding the mentee and showing that genuine sense that you also want them to succeed.

Focus on character rather than competency: Mentoring is not just a training program but also helping shape there character, values, self-awareness, capacity for respect.

Shout loudly with your optimism, and keep quite with your cynicism:  This one has been a bit of a challenge for me in my early stages of leadership but I have seen that light, and this is very true.  We need to listen to others ideas and really put them to the test of how it could work prior to acknowledging that it doesn't.  We all seem to really listen and take ownership if have the opportunity to try out suggestion and then realize it did not work then never get a chance to even think about it.   Mr Tjan mentions that you should give it 24 minutes of positive thinking before you look at why it would not work.  (Make the vision work then it is possible you will see another solution then what you first had first come to mind.)  Sharing these skills with others is key.

Be more loyal to your mentee than your are to your company: This is easy we all would love to keep the best for us.  Create that dream team as you would say.  But when you are mentoring you must think of the mentee and what is best for them.   That is the true test of a mentor.  Do not override the dreams and be sure to advise him of his strengths and opportunities of  their own personal growth.   

The key to your success is assisting the success of those around you.

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