Why Senior Leaders Should Ensure Mentoring be on Their Agenda

We explore the vital importance of mentoring at all levels of organisational success and why senior leaders, managers and company owners should make the time for mentoring.

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Mentoring in its purest form is something that happens on an ongoing basis in every organisation. Some organisations choose to highlight and promote mentoring programmes to ensure individuals thrive through its power and effectiveness, whilst others leave it to organically develop amongst employees. Either way, mentoring happens every single day.

Mentoring is the act of one individual sharing their knowledge, skills, and experience to help another person to develop and grow. So, it is unsurprising that mentoring becomes a role that many managers and leaders carry out amongst their teams in a wide range of ways. Yet, whilst mentoring informally takes place, it never ceases to amaze us just how many senior leaders do not embrace mentoring outside their day-to-day role, when they really should do.

Whilst mentoring programmes in organisations can promote a great many effective ways in which individuals can develop in their career, the benefits for mentoring are often highlighted for mentees, without much focus on how many benefits there are to mentors. Senior leaders may dismiss the idea of mentoring because their diaries are filled with ‘business critical’ meetings but those senior leaders who dismiss mentoring may well be missing out and could even be harming the growth of their employees.

We know that there is a powerful correlation between company-wide embrace of mentoring and senior leaders embracing mentoring. Not only does senior leadership and involvement of mentoring give a sense of importance (and rightly so) to mentoring programmes and the upskilling of employees, but it also ensures that those individuals who would otherwise feel that mentoring is only for people ‘struggling’ will re-consider. Ultimately, mentoring benefits everyone at every level of an organisation. For those senior leaders mentoring junior employees, they stand to learn a lot from new industry trends, technologies and efficiencies they may otherwise miss out on by focusing on their day-to-day and the way they have always conducted business. At the same time, of course, the mentee stands to develop in their own career far faster with the support of a mentor.

The reality is that we should always strive to learn more, grow and develop in ourselves and our careers. For senior leaders who don’t engage in mentoring, they are closing off potential avenues of growth and development. Let’s cut to the chase, senior leaders should strive for growth and career development just as much as anyone else because they are the ones tasked with ensuring that a business or organisation is succeeding – their career growth is paramount not only to their own success, but that of an organisation and its employees too.

It Can Be Lonely for Senior Leaders

For senior leaders, the day-to-day often involves back-to-back meetings, demands and extremely difficult decisions to be made in an instant. For a lot of senior leaders, the reality is that it can be lonely. There is little time to stop and pause, and there is even less time given to reflection. Mentoring can be a great way of combatting this loneliness and improving learning at the same time. Mentoring meetings, whilst giving mentors and mentees the opportunity to learn and develop, also provide the perfect opportunity for reflection. In fact, in PushFar’s mentoring guidelines, we reference reflection a lot and ensure that this time is given to both mentors and mentees, to truly benefit from mentoring.

Mentoring meetings, even if scheduled for an hour a month, can provide the perfect time for senior leaders to invest in themselves and fellow colleagues, improve organisation-wide professional development and bring lonely leaders out of their shells to really understand what is happening on the ground with staff at every level of an organisation.

What about Reverse Mentoring?

When we talk about senior leaders and their involvement with mentoring, there is a tendency to immediately assume the senior leaders will be mentors. This is an understandable assumption to make. Senior leaders do make great mentors as they have a wealth of knowledge, skills and experience which they can impart upon more junior employees in an organisation. However, we’ve seen a steady incline in interest around reverse mentoring.

Reverse mentoring is, as the name suggests, where those typically considered to be the mentee, such as recent graduates, new joiners and junior employees, mentor senior leaders. With reverse mentoring, the concept is simple – whilst looking at mentoring they are likely to have less experience or knowledge, the reverse mentor does have experience, skills and insights in specific areas to a greater extent than the individual being mentored. These specific experiences may be in technology, trends, and younger generation activities or, as we are seeing happening a lot in mentoring focused on diversity and inclusion, mentors in inclusion groups educating senior leaders on challenges facing minority groups.

Mentoring is learning and for senior leaders to learn about the day-to-day challenges facing junior employees, to understand new technologies and truly feel empowered, reverse mentoring acts as a fantastic tool to ensure learning is happening across departments, hierarchical structures and organisation-wide focuses.

So, if your senior leaders aren’t yet involved in mentoring and aren’t making the time for it, it’s time to ask them why and ensure they have access to quickly and easily find mentors and mentees of their own. PushFar’s mentoring platform is here to help organisations to deploy company-wide and focus-specific mentoring programmes in minutes. Click here to request a demo of our technology and see how we can help.
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