What Is A Mentor?
Are you looking for an executive mentor or coach? Executive mentors have always been around us. In the second half of the 20th Century People Development became as important as salary and benefits. GE led the charge and the rest of the Fortune 50 followed. GE’s approach was to promote the top 10%, fire the bottom 10% and apply consistent standards to the remaining 80% so they either moved up to the top or out of the company the following year.
What Does It Mean To Be A Mentor?
Failure to promote the top 10% leads to your best people leaving to go to a more challenging higher paying role elsewhere. And, failure to terminate the bottom 10% leads to dissatisfaction with these same high performers. Worse than this, the middle 80% may not be challenged to perform if the poor performers are allowed to keep their jobs.
This why you need a mentor or coach. They will speak truth into your life. The mentor/coach will help you see strengths and weaknesses but more importantly your blindspots!
I worked in PepsiCo’s Pizza Hut division and we used a process called Individual Management Development. I cannot begin to express how this program helped in my personal development and the development of so many people who reported to me directly or indirectly. I was also fortunate to report to some people who cared more about results and less about politics.
Some say a philosophy of move them up or move them out is harsh. The opposite is true for high performers. They want to be surrounded by people who work as hard as they do. Consequently, high performers seek constant improvement; and, they want someone who can help them achieve their career goals.
How Mentoring Helps
- Clarify who you really are and what you really want to achieve and when
- Leverage strengths and manage weaknesses
- Understand how to realize your potential
- Develop the right skills using your unique strengths
- Develop a clear and strategic thought process
- Learn the business acumen needed for your industry
- Become a better communicator
- Identify your leadership style and how to use it effectively
- Understand core values, develop vision, implement mission and set goals
For more on this, Fortune published this article specific to millennials and their need for a mentor.
Where To Find A Mentor
How do we find an executive mentor in the absence of these kind of programs? How do we find a mentor in a small business? Or, in an organization that is young an on a high growth track?
There are many answers to this question but successful people want someone who has been there and done that. They want people they can trust and confide. They need people around them that have experienced the problems that are new to them now.
Therefore, I think the best approach is to find someone who has walked where you want to walk and has received training to be a great coach. You can find these people all over LinkedIn. Finally, look for some gray hair. There are lots of coaches out there who have the mistaken belief that they don’t need experience or training to take people where they haven’t traveled. There is some truth if we are just talking about coaching, however, a coach/mentor is a different animal.