Three very powerful words and yet three words that are not widely understood. I have often said that, “a great mentor is a great leader” and “a great leader is a great mentor.” Taking the right steps with your leadership development program is key to the development of your future leaders and future mentors within your organization.
I would like to add one more word to the equation and sadly it is one that is over used so I apologize now for adding to the mix. That word is “culture.” If you can create the right type of culture, if you understand where you are today and where you want to be tomorrow then you can create that culture that nourishes leadership, which nourishes mentoring, that creates a continuous learning environment.
Before I recommend the implementation of a mentor program or a mentor culture I always like to suggest or recommend a culture assessment to determine mentor readiness of the organization. Why implement mentoring if the organization is not ready. There can be some impediments that stand in the way of a successful program. We need to identify what those may be and develop a strategy/solution to address them. One example that always seems to stand out is effective communication. All too often after analyzing the data from the culture assessment process I find that the people within that organization have lost the art of communicating effectively. As a result crucial conversations are either not happening or they are taking place very poorly. This results in mixed messaging, lack of trust, toxicity in the work place along with a number of other challenges.
All of these elements are things that great leaders and great mentors take into account in the development of a continuous learning and development organization. Here is where this master plan begins to break down. Taking the first step to thinking about implementing mentoring is the toughest one for most leaders. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of what mentoring is and the power of mentoring as part of a continuous learning and development environment. Perhaps it is a misunderstanding of the similarities in skills sets between a great mentor and a great leader. In a report that was recently done it identified that 53% of the leaders today cannot inspire people to follow them. 87% of companies are not excellent at building global leaders.
The next thing that challenges most leaders is to actually understand what the pain points are in their organization. That is where the culture assessment piece comes in. The process that we find that works the best is more personal rather than the use of a survey tool. We can get to the root causes a lot quicker and with more credibility.
The future is not all dim. There are things we can do to create that work place that so many of us search for. Think about “the gift of mentoring” and what it can do for your organization. Think about the sound of all those employees’ feet hitting the floor in the morning as they scramble to get out the door to get to work. Think of a positive work place filled with engaged, empowered and accountable employees all working to a common purpose of making your organization a success. Embrace the power of mentoring – “can you afford not to?”