No matter where you are in your leadership journey, you will benefit from having a mentor. Leadership mentoring is not just for those stepping up from management roles to leadership for the first time – although it will certainly help them. It can also be an incredible support to those already established in leadership roles.
Why? Well, as the saying goes, it’s tough at the top. If you are already a leader you may find that it is difficult to find a suitable mentor within your organisation. You are more likely to be the mentor than mentee there, and opening up about your challenges could damage your reputation within the business.
But just because it’s tough at the top doesn’t mean that it has to stay that way.
Having an external leadership mentor means that you have a mentor available to discuss your professional or leadership challenges with, in confidence. Your mentor will help you to develop your strengths as a leader. And crucially, they will help you to identify any blind spots or self-limiting beliefs you have when it comes to your thinking and your leadership abilities.
Even the strongest leaders benefit from mentoring
Bill Gates reportedly regularly checks in with his longtime mentor Warren Buffet. Oprah Winfrey credits Maya Angelou with mentoring her during her career. And both Gates and Winfrey have gone on to mentor other leaders following in their footsteps. Having a leadership mentor means that you become part of a chain, learning from your mentor and supporting your mentees to develop their leadership skills.
How a leadership mentor helps you:
1. To save time..
When you’re faced with difficult decisions or challenges, having a mentor as a sounding board to discuss your options with, is invaluable. A leadership mentor can help you to identify and explore different possible courses of action. Your leadership mentor won’t tell you what to do, but they will ask probing questions that lead you to find the best solution for you and the people you lead.
2. To be a better mentor to others..
An experienced leadership mentor will bring out the best in you, empowering you to be a role model for how you can mentor others. They will be open about the lessons learned as a mentor and help you to navigate your way to mentoring others.
3. To prepare for the next stage of life..
Leaders naturally want to continue to develop their career paths. Whether you are mid-career or considering retirement, your leadership mentor can help you to develop a plan for each stage. They will help you to explore how you will use your considerable valuable skills in your next role, whether that is at another organisation, volunteering or as a mentor to others.
4. To get a different perspective..
Having a mentor within your organisation or industry is hugely beneficial, but a leadership mentor will have a wealth of experience working with senior leaders in many different sectors. Having mentored many leaders they will have different perspectives on the challenges you face, helping you to see things differently too. A leadership mentor can help you to avoid falling into the trap of “groupthink” – or help you to find your way out again if you’re mired in it already.
5. To tackle any lingering imposter syndrome or self-doubts..
Leadership mentoring is primarily about helping you to recognise your strengths so that you can work in a way that maximises them. When your time is precious in a demanding leadership role it can be difficult to take the time to reflect on what is going well and to consider why certain things aren’t going so well.
The missing piece in the jigsaw?
Finding a leadership mentor may be the missing piece of your leadership development. If you’re caught up in the day-to-day work, you may find that you don’t have the energy, will, or time for self-reflection. Regular appointments with a mentor will give you the space and time you need to explore your leadership, recognise strengths that you may not be aware of, and find ways to deal with the inevitable challenges along the way.
People in demanding senior-level roles, I believe, need mentoring as much as, if not more than, the newer members of management. The mentoring required at the senior leadership level demands a specialised mentor with extensive experience supporting individuals at that level.
While Warren Buffet, Bill Gates and Oprah Winfrey may not have space in their schedules for more leadership mentees, I do!
If you, or your colleagues, would benefit from leadership mentoring, or if you would like to discuss whether this is the best way forward for you, contact me today to arrange a free 30-minute discovery call.