Many people believe that you are either born with leadership skills or you are not. Although some people are natural born leaders, it is possible to learn how to lead....and mentoring can help.
How does mentoring foster leadership?
Most people need to learn and continually practice leadership skills. There are very few naturals out there. A mentoring relationship provides a safe place to learn about leadership, ask questions, make mistakes, and receive coaching from someone who has been there, done that.
Let's consider some compelling statistics, findings, and quotes on leadership and mentoring:
• More and more companies (nearly 60% according to this survey) are reporting a shortage of qualified leadership talent.
• “Leaders hold the key to employee engagement”—from Aon Hewitt’s 2014 Trends in Global Engagement Report.
• “69% of business leaders say it’s important to have a mentor”—from Entrepreneur.
• “The difference between the impact that a top-performing leader and an average leader has on an organization is at least 50 percent, according to leaders participating in Global Leadership Forecast 2011.”
• “Leadership development cannot be left to chance”—from the Center for Creative Leadership’s white paper titled Grooming Top Leaders: Cultural Perspectives from China, India, Singapore, and the United States.
When it comes to developing leaders, why would mentoring be more beneficial than coaching?
Would there be a situation where coaching would make more sense than mentoring? When you mentor, you’re also coaching. What mentoring does in addition to coaching is it brings in the personal relationship. Both coaching and mentoring should exist within the organization. Coaching is about getting things done. Mentoring is about transforming people and transforming the group. (Read more about the differences between mentoring and coaching in this free white paper.) That said, we know some coaches today who feel that coaching has evolved over the last decade or so and that they bring a personal relationship to the work they do. And that’s great. But we maintain that when this happens, the person transitions from being a coach to being a mentor. It’s a fine line, but it’s important to note the distinction.
Mentoring and Leadership in Action
An employee with U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service describes working on specific leadership skills with his mentor. Read the complete case study here. “The mentoring program was very valuable. My mentor and I addressed two of the Service’s leadership competencies: visioning and strategic planning. This included interviewing stakeholders, reviewing documents, preparing a vision statement, and updating my program’s strategic plan consistent with national, regional, and field office priorities. I was using the document almost as soon as I completed it and know that it will benefit my program. As a result of this process, I am also now more experienced with these two leadership competencies. In addition to the specific goals that my mentor and I addressed through the program, I benefited in many other ways. I received career advice, exposure to another program, and much appreciated feedback from an objective third party. Lastly, and most importantly, I gained a new friend who I will be able to turn to in the future.”
Excerpts of this post are taken from our latest white paper, Leadership & Mentoring: FAQ's, Tips and Real-Life Stories. To learn more such as "Why do Leaders Need to Mentor?" and "What Does a Leadership Program Look Like?" download the free white paper now.
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