Leadership mentoring is the backbone to successful businesses; take a look at the FTSE 100 or Fortune 500 companies to see why majority of them are using mentoring and coaching programs to grow their managers and leaders for the future.

Sustainable Business Growth

Growing and sustainable business growth requires talented leadership and management expertise which is an on-going challenge within any company regardless of size. The speed of projects today combined with the need for innovation has dramatically increased so much that we are not promoting enough people into positions of management and leadership in an ever-increasing pace. This can be detrimental for any business that is trying to grow.

How will these newly promoted leaders adequately learn proper management skills? More importantly, how will they be able to quickly apply what they have learned within their corporate culture and business environment? For every £ spent on training the company needs to see a return on its investment, ASAP.

Rapid Changing Economy

In the history of the workplace, individuals would typically garner the required skills and knowledge through training, education and experience. Organisations could afford to wait for the individual to progress to the desired level. However, today’s fast-paced economy has led to organisations needing to have their employees learn and apply that learning effectively and rapidly before the knowledge becomes out-dated.

Studies have proven that there are limits as to how fast education and training can be driven while still being effective. Also, due to financial constraints within organisation, it is vital to remember that most of the times the problem is not how fast education and training is driven but how to even afford such resources.

Education & Experience

What can organisations do to solve this dilemma to bridge the transitional gap between “education” and “experience?”

The answer: Mentoring

By definition, a mentor is an individual with the experience, knowledge and skills of a specific content area who is able and willing to share this information with another individual.

Experienced Mentor

A mentor is not defined by age, a higher status level of employment or tenure. In fact, the most important aspect of a mentor is the experience, knowledge and skills that this individual has and is willing to share with others. And, in many cases, the mentor’s experience, the application of knowledge and skill, outweighs all else.

Under a mentor’s direction, the mentee is given immediate access to valuable insights and experiences in the methodology of learning by doing. In essence, the mentor allows the student to practice what is being taught.

Advantage of a Mentor

Another advantage that mentoring has for an organisation is its ability to showcase individuals that have the necessary competencies to develop others to achieve success. Many times, these characteristics are the same competencies that an organisation desires in its leadership. Even individuals who do not wish to assume managerial or supervisory roles can provide significant leadership as mentors to allow the organisation to tap into a greater pool of talent and skill.

Long Term

Many times individuals do not get any experience in specific coaching roles until after being promoted to such roles. As a result, these leaders are forced to become reactive in learning the required skills and competencies. Ideally, a proactive approach in which individuals have the opportunity to acquire leadership skills prior to promotion better serves the individual and the organisation as a whole in the short and long term.

“Development of our management leadership curriculum is struggling because attendees are too busy to participate in training.” This is a common problem that many organisations face in regard to training and development.

Previously, when the economy and, as a result, organisations struggled, most of the training and development budgets were cut. As a result, opportunities for adequate management training were not only difficult but often impossible, quickly becoming an understood and accepted norm for many companies.

Working Smarter and Not Harder

Organisations presently find themselves in a more robust economy with the same budget limitations due to driving cost-effectiveness. Add this to the fact that during this time of renewal, organisational leaders are working double time to make up for previous losses by taking advantage of the current boost. The burnout rate for managers and leaders is much higher when you make them work long and hard hours, when in effect by working with a mentor they can learn to work smarter and still produce higher results than by working harder.

How can you ensure that your managers and leaders continue to obtain the learning and development under the constraints of time and money?

The answer: Mentoring.

Mentoring relationships allow individuals to learn while they are doing.

Mentoring is one of the most cost-effective and efficient tools an organisation has for the development of its employees and future leaders.

There is a wealth of knowledge and talent within an organisation. The challenge is to utilise that knowledge and make it readily available to others in the organisation.

A mentoring relationship is beneficial in that it provides for an individual (Mentee/Protégé):

  • Individualised attention from someone (Mentor) who has knowledge and experience and, many times, a degree of success and respect within the organisation
  • Direct information and experience from a Mentor which builds a degree of confidence through guidance, assistance and support
  • Specifically tailored, developmental activities that allow a Mentee the ability to take risks, display skills/competencies and reinforce self-confidence in a type of “controlled” set of circumstances
  • The ability to practice obtained learning in his/her own job position as a Mentor can illustrate how specific learning transfers to “real life” experiences on the job
  • A champion that many times can provide clear direction to positions in the organisation that match the interest and skills/competencies of the Mentee

Most of all mentoring uses internal talent and creates a true learning organisation where individuals are responsible for the learning and development of one another and the sharing of information. This can be accomplished with minimum disruption to an individual’s job, projects, assignments or responsibilities. Mentoring is both effective in terms of time and cost as well is in providing adequate hands-on experience to achieve personal and professional success.

Moe Nawaz is a Mentor & Strategic Advisor to FTSE 100 leaders with over 25 years of hands on experience.

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