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Become a Mentor for Better Management

Benjamin Franklin once penned the phrase, “Tell me and I may forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” When it comes to mentoring, most people think of the benefit laying solely at the feet of the mentored, but the reality is both the mentor and protege have much to gain in this symbiotic relationship. A study conducted by The Association of Talent Development found that 75% of executives credit their success to successful mentors who helped guide, encourage, and mold them into the leaders they currently are, while a staggering 35% of employees credit a lack of mentorship to their renewed job search.

A famous example of a successful mentor / protégé relationship can be seen between Steve Jobs (former CEO of Apple) and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook. While on the surface, it can seem like Mr. Zuckerberg won the mentor lottery in his relationship with Steve Jobs, the young, enthusiastic entrepreneur also offered his mentor a fresh exchange of ideas, a new perspective on a changing marketplace, and a deeper insight into the mindsets of a new generation. While one grew and developed well-honed leadership skills and business acumen, the other gained fresh insight and perspective.

Granted in most business environments, mentors and proteges are within the same organization, but the results and successes can be similar in scope. Managers at all levels within companies find a greater sense of satisfaction and fulfillment by sponsoring or mentoring a protégé who is driven, dedicated, and appreciative of the time spent in their development.  However, it takes time and energy to find a suitable protégé and build the trusting relationship from which future successes can grow.  While selecting the wrong protégé can result in disappointment, betrayal, and loss, finding the right protégé can reduce workload, foster an environment for mutual growth and success and create an environment open to new ideas and development.

How does one go about finding a suitable mentee? Someone you can trust, delegate to, invest in, and grow simultaneously with? Seven simple steps to help guide you to finding the perfect protégé are as follows:

  • Identify. Performance, loyalty, and trustworthiness are the cornerstones to a good protégé. Don’t fall into the mindset that a protégé must be younger than you. Look for talented people who stand out and shine in your organization but could use and would appreciate the deeper level of commitment required from you to help develop them.
  • Include. Mini-Me’s need not apply. Look outside your comfort zone for someone who has a different mindset, knowledgebase, or demographics.
  • Inspire. Make sure your protégé’s share your values and focus their ambitions to spur them and you forward.
  • Instruct. Be cognizant of your mentee’s gaps in knowledge or skills and ensure you can dedicate the time and resources to bridging them and empowering them to improve and grow.
  • Inspect. Evaluate their deliverables and confirm trustworthiness.
  • Instigate a deal. Once confident in the value delivered by a protégé, make an ask, spelling out the terms of a reciprocal relationship.
  • Invest in three ways. Go all in for your protégé in terms of cover, clout, and capital. Endorsing, making connections, advocating for growth and advancement, and providing air cover when needed shows your commitment to a long and prosperous relationship. Don’t hold back and ensure your protégé knows you have their back.

Life is full of risks, but managers don’t get where they are by avoiding them. The best managers, know their industry, can evaluate risks, and are adept at determining the best return on investment in any situation, including mentorship. Don’t let the potential pitfalls stop you from searching for the ideal protégé in your environment. Together, the relationship could take you both to new places in your respective careers. As Astronaut Chris Hadfield has said, “Every single thing that you learn really just gives you more comfort. It’s something I counsel kids all the time: if someone is willing to teach you something for free, take them up on it. Do it. Every single time. All it does is make you more likely to succeed. And it’s kind of a nice way to go through life.” Apply the sentiment to your business, organization, or team and you’ll find the diamonds in the rough willing to take your time and dedication in mentoring and turn it into a great success story for the both of you.

For more information on developing a management style suited for sponsorship, contact us today for the tools to expand your leadership abilities and pursue a protégé relationship for success. Great leaders are crafted from time, dedication, commitment, and engagement. Let us help you and your organization succeed.








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