Mentorship can be both an exciting and scary word, for both the mentor and mentee. This week, we will talk about the importance of being a mentor to someone else and how that can boost and continue to develop your Executive Presence. Next week, we will talk about the role of the mentee and how to build a strong and lasting relationship with a mentor.
Mentorship involves much more than simply being a role model; it involves active participation with the aspiring men and women around you. Mentorship is, in fact, an inherent responsibility of those in the top levels of organizations. Leaders are expected to guide by example and empower employees and staff around them to develop their own presence.
Of course, things like first impressions, communication skills and gravitas are fundamental to your EP, but mentoring adds another dimension. In the words of Bill Taylor, author of The Best Leaders “Talk the Walk”:
One of the most ubiquitous aphorisms in business is that the best leaders understand the need to ‘walk the talk’ — that is, their behavior and day-to-day actions have to match the aspirations they have for their colleagues and organization.
But the more time I spend with game-changing innovators and high-performing companies, the more I appreciate the need for leaders to ‘talk the walk’ … to be able to explain, in language that is unique to their field and compelling to their colleagues and customers, why what they do matters and how they expect to win.
Your ability to convey expectations to others is as important as your own behaviour. Behaviour is one aspect of mentoring – another is asking questions. What I mean here is that the goal is to get junior employees to self-diagnose their own goals and opportunities. This is what differs between mentoring and coaching; a coach is often detail-oriented or task-specific, but a mentor is thinking in the long-term.
One thing to remember is that a mentorship relationship isn’t necessary one-on-one, although it can be of course. You must remember that you are a mentor every day that you interact with and motivate others around you. Mentorship can involve more indirect relationships, which are still impactful and lasting. Mentorship is a win-win: it is an excellent way to continue to develop your Executive Presence, and you can serve to motivate and inspire younger achievers around you.