Become The Best Leader: Pay It Forward
Leadership. It’s the pinnacle of success. The result of all your hard work. Sweat, blood, tears, and late nights. But you made it.
But leadership shouldn’t be the end of your path. It should act as a new beginning. You have power. Now is the time to use it wisely.
Maybe you donate to charity. But have you thought about giving as a habit? It’s always the perfect time to think about giving back. As a leader, one of the best ways you can pay it forward is by mentoring.
How to find someone to mentor
First, look within. Does your organisation run a mentoring program? Don’t let the lack of a program stop you – lead by example. If your efforts prove fruitful, you’ll have laid the groundwork for a system that keeps on giving.
It’s easiest to start mentoring within your own organisation, or team. A mentoring relationship is based on communication, after all. But one of the pitfalls of informal mentorship is its exclusivity. For generations, leaders mentored the people they thought could take over from them. Junior staff that reminded leaders of their younger selves.
This has played a significant obstruction to diversity.
When seeking a mentee, be aware of your own biases. Seek out juniors who are different to you, or ones you don’t know that well. They may well be the ones who would benefit the most from the relationship.
But don’t limit yourself to your company alone. Look beyond your co-workers. Make your availability known on LinkedIn. Attend local networking events. Keep an eye out for rising startups. Check out any charities in the area that support disadvantaged groups.
You may well learn more about yourself when you’re teaching someone else.
The key to mentoring is communication
Finding a mentee isn’t the end of it. You need to define the relationship. Work out how to best communicate, and the timing that suits you both. Define goals, and help them work towards it. You need to set expectations – on both sides.
Mentoring can be hard work – but so very rewarding. Be sure to share those rewards. Celebrate milestones and successes, and always offer constructive feedback and advice.
By sharing your knowledge and experience, you’re passing it on. But you might well be confronted with a new way of thinking. New ideas, connections or even ways to tackle problems aren’t always easy to come across. Let your mentee know what they’re giving you in return. Make this relationship beneficial to both sides, and reap the returns together.
Yet, no matter how fruitful this relationship may be, there will come a time when your mentee doesn’t need your guidance. Let it be a case of “see you later,” not goodbye. Remain in contact, and touch base regularly. And maybe one day, you’ll hear about their mentoring.