Becoming a mentor is one of the best things you can do for other people – and for yourself. When one person who is seeking guidance and support connects with someone who has experience and insight to offer, the relationship that develops can become a source of inspiration for each. As a CEO, you’ve likely had a mentor or two who has helped you reach the level of success you have today. You’re not done, though: acting as a mentor can be just as beneficial to your career and mindset.
A mentor lends the value of his/her experience to someone who might just be starting out, or just starting to climb his own career ladder. When you can draw on 20, 30, 40 years of experience – instead of, say, two – then you can avoid mistakes, learn to do things more efficiently, move faster in a technical area, and/or become an effective leader. The mentor benefits from the process as well.
1. Mentoring satisfies the ego. This is not an unimportant point. It is certainly a boost to know that people look to you for advice and counsel. As a result, you strive to become even more worthy of your own reputation for excellence.
2. You play your A game. No one wants to give bad advice; no one wants a mentee to fail as a result of faulty guidance. Mentoring forces you to be on the top of your game with this person; you are offering your best advice, your best thinking. You are working through problems and challenges with them; you are helping them see things from a different perspective. You are drawing on lessons from your own experience and articulating it so it becomes a lesson for them as well.
3. You learn and develop. While you are pushing your mentee, you’re pushing yourself. You are looking at things from a different perspective; you are drawing on the past to help you handle the present and future. You are teaching yourself to use what you know, to draw it out, and to present it in a positive and instructive way. This will benefit your performance in negotiations, in staff meetings, in public speaking situations, and in a myriad of other situations.
Mentoring has been an invaluable source of learning and inspiration for time immemorial. That it helps the mentor as much as the protégé is all the more reason to pursue mentorship and lend developing leaders the benefit of your knowledge, while borrowing the benefit of their willingness to learn.