Setting the Framework for Success with Five Levels of Mentoring …
“The best executive is the one who has sense enough to pick good men (women) to do what he (she) wants done, and the self-restraint to keep from meddling with them while they do it.” – Theodore Roosevelt.
The state of organizational leadership is at a critical point. Global pandemic forces has challenged how everyone know reflects on what they want to do professionally, how they want to participate in that space, and what individual’s “WHY” may be and how that aligns to individual’s “PURPOSE” and that of organizations “PURPOSE and WHY”.
Observing senior leadership today would lead an outside observer to conclude that leadership development is evaporating before one’s very eyes. We find this breakdown in leadership across the board:
- Far too many senior officers in the military are no longer aware of their fundamental functional operations.
- In governmental agencies and private companies, managers appear incapable of getting employees to work together and often accept an environment of dysfunction where you can’t get rid of a bad employee.
- Within nonprofits, mid-level managers maintain a protectionist mindset to keep their own job, leading to a guarded interaction with others.
The future of leadership is in trouble, and how we handle it today will determine what happens tomorrow. Unfortunately, great followers and future leaders are often stymied by inadequate and ineffective organizational leadership development programs and opportunities.
The leading trade organizations of SHRM/Society of Human Resource Management and ATD/Association Talent Development show overwhelming data illustrates that a leading way to attract (recruit) great talent and retain great talent, is through a strategic MENTORING program or approach.
It doesn’t have to be this way. A simple solution is to establish an environment where present leaders share their knowledge and cultivate successful future leaders through a Leadership Mentoring Program.
An effective mentoring program must include:
- Solid mentors who are at least two direct-report positions removed from the mentee. This positional space between mentor and mentee allows for greater interaction and giving on the part of the mentor.
- Both ‘formal’ (measurement protocols and assignments) and ‘informal’ (conversational and relationship-driven) contacts.
- Predetermined objectives for both mentor and mentee and an objective means to measure and hold all parties accountable.
The past sins will weigh heavily on the future unless senior leaders remove reality blinders and institute rigorous developmental programs to ensure success.
“When the student is ready, the teacher will reveal themselves,” – Unknown, as told by Jim Stovall, CEO, Narrative Television Network.
One suggestion for an effective Leadership Mentor Development Program incorporates a five-step approach:
Mentor Level One — An elementary mentor, whereby the mentor possesses patience and great basic knowledge of a subject matter that they instill into another person.
Mentor Level Two – A secondary mentor can provide opportunities for the mentee to apply this new knowledge or skill. This secondary mentor assists them in becoming both comfortable and proficient with this knowledge base.
Mentor Level Three — A post-secondary mentor constructively challenges the mentee to seek new applications for this basic knowledge base and encourages them to seek greatness with it.
Mentor Level Four — A master mentor has a well-positioned network of stakeholders and decision-makers across organizational lines that can promote and sell the mentee to others.
Mentor Level Five — At this point, a mentee has grown and developed through the previous levels and has demonstrated a grasp and application of knowledge and experience. They have therefore earned the right to become a mentor themselves and help develop another person.
As the quality of the mentor will make or break this type of development program, we must discuss who has the right to serve as a mentor. When selecting, recruiting, or accepting nominations/applications for mentors, consider:
- A mentor must be willing to invest time and energy into the mentee to develop present and future organizational leaders.
- A person must have a reservoir of knowledge, both in terms of formal and informal knowledge/training/skill attainment/ certifications, that can be shared with a willing mentee and thus enable a shorter learning curve.
- An accomplished and dedicated senior member who may no longer feel valued and appreciated because of their tenure. They can be an ideal candidate sharing their knowledge and feeling a renewed sense of purpose in return.
- A person with a genuine vested interest in the organizations’ success and core survival will be an exceedingly diligent mentor and take the mentee’s interest to heart.
Accepting just any individual as a mentor in a Leadership Development Program can be a fast track to failure.
While a mentorship program is essential for both men and women in the workplace, it may be even more beneficial for women. Recent studies by the American Business Institute and a client survey by JMI showed that the first thought of a man, when promoted in the workplace, is, “What must I do to get the next promotion and how fast?” whereby the mindset of a woman promoted in the workplace centers around, “What is expected of me in this new position to succeed?”
A strong mentor can help women succeed in their current roles and move up the ranks more quickly. An Ohio State University study indicated that professional women in the workplace with mentor relationships were 68 times more promotable and marketable in their careers than individuals with no mentor relationships.
While establishing and running a mentorship program will require extra time, energy, and sometimes money, the question for organizations and for managerial leaders to ask is, “Can we afford not to invest in our personnel asset by not having a mentor program?”
“If a man empties is pyres into his head, no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.” – Benjamin Franklin
Written by Dr. Jeffrey Magee.
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