Mentor Leadership: Why Mentoring Is Essential To Good Leadership

You’re always looking to become a better leader. It’s one of the qualities that has got you where you are today. But you probably never saw yourself as the ideal mentor, right?

Regardless, mentor leadership is a critical component of business success today, as it develops great people, which leads to growth and profitability. So you need to know about it. 

What is mentor leadership?

Mentor leadership is the art of leading a team through effective mentorship of its members. It’s also a tried and trusted method for developing the best leaders of tomorrow. 

Mentoring is something that can be done successfully by anybody in a position of experience. The role of the mentor is simply to nurture the mentee, encouraging them to learn, grow and upskill. This empowers them not only to perform better in their role but progress further in their career. 

Mentors can also benefit from their mentoring experience. This is called reverse mentoring. Jack Welch, the former CEO of General Electric, popularised reverse mentoring, when he paired up 500 of his top executives with junior associates so they could learn how to use the internet.  

The point here is that, although we may be senior, we don’t necessarily have all the answers. There is much to be learned from nurturing and interacting with team members of all ages and experience levels.

Why mentoring is essential to good leadership

Mentoring is super important for leaders because, put simply, it brings the best out of the people you lead. Mentoring generates confidence, inspires trust and fast-tracks team development.  

A big part of your own leadership development is determining what sort of a leader you want to be. The “transformational leadership” style is often considered among the most desirable by employees. The hallmarks of transformational leadership are: 

Mentor leadership aligns perfectly with this managerial style. If it’s the route you’d like to take to become a more inspirational, more effective leader, here are some quick wins for you to try. 

“They will feel a stronger connection to you as a leader and the organisation as a whole for investing in their skills and future”

3 quick wins: how to be a good mentor and get the best out of your team

1. Be open and honest about your own mistakes

I recall at the beginning of my career thinking that everyone senior to me had it all figured out. I was terrified of making mistakes because I thought I’d look like a complete idiot. Maybe you remember feeling the same?

But the truth is, we all made mistakes didn’t we? However senior or experienced somebody is now, at some point or another they were still learning, they had to tackle some unfamiliar tasks and they inevitably made a mistake.

As a leadership mentor, it’s up to you to break through the barrier between you and your team. Why not tell a story about a time when you were faced with a similar challenge to theirs, or share a humorous anecdote detailing a stuff up you made. Storytelling is an effective way to get people’s attention and make your point, so use it as an opportunity to impart some wisdom or teach a lesson. 

Open up, be honest about your mistakes and reveal your own vulnerability. It makes you infinitely more human, approachable and a better leader. 

2. Take a genuine interest in your team members as people

Just as you want your team to see past your title and experience, it’s important that you get to know your team members on a personal level. I don’t mean you have to invite yourself to their social events (although team drinks can be a great bonding exercise), but getting to know your mentee on a deeper level will help you build a stronger relationship with them.

It’ll also help you to understand who they are as a person, their strengths and weaknesses, how they interact with others, and so on.

Mentor leadership is all about being an active listener. Listen closely to what your mentee is saying, ask considered questions to get to the heart of the matter and play the role of sounding board. Ultimately, the goal of leading and coaching is to empower your team members to make their own good decisions, rather than give them the answers.

3. Invest in quality training for your team

Investing in highly beneficial and quality training (like our Mastering Communication training program) helps to engage people more with their role. As they learn valuable new skills, like how to present confidently in public or get buy-in from stakeholders, they’ll want to put them into practice the following week at work.

Not only that but they will feel a stronger connection to you as a leader and the organisation as a whole for investing in their skills and future. It’s a powerful way to cultivate gratitude and loyalty in valuable employees. 

Eugene McGarrell, General Manager, Health and Community Engagement at iCare booked his team onto our Mastering Communication program. His team benefitted so much from the training, he decided to sign up for the program too!

“When my team came back from the program they were very energized and enthusiastic. I hadn’t had that sort of feedback from other programs before from my team. When I heard what they’d learned and seen the difference it had made it really confirmed that we’d invested in the right program and that I should do the program myself.”

Hazel Mijango, Project Manager, Royal Commission Retail Banking Services, CBA was recommended to attend the training by her manager. Just one week after the program, Hazel was offered a promotion to a role she was eager to take on. She was able to apply the skills she’d learned during the training to deliver her message in a clear and polished way.

Mentor leadership is beneficial on so many levels and not as difficult as you might think. Why not start by investing in our training for your team and see what transformational changes it can bring.

The Colin James Method® Facilitators train corporate executives to improve their professional communication skills with a proven methodology. Our highly trained Facilitators and Coaches are recognised for their experience in their fields and have worked with many individuals and organisations around the world to master the art of communication.

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