Helping Leaders and Managers Grow and Develop Through Mentoring

October 12, 2009
mentoring leaders and managers

Speed vs. Effectiveness

Growing leadership expertise in a short period of time within an organization is a continual challenge. The speed of projects and the need for innovation have increased to a point that organizations are moving people into positions of management and leadership at an ever-increasing pace.

How can employees learn to become effective leaders? More importantly, how will they be able to quickly apply what they have learned within their organizational culture and business environment?

The Practical Experience

In the past, individuals gained skills and knowledge through training, education, and experience, and the organization could afford to wait for employees in training to get up to speed. Today, organizations need their people to learn – and be able to apply that learning – much more quickly.

Studies have proven that there are limits to how fast you can drive education and training with effective results. Also, due to economic constraints within organizations, often the issue is not how fast to drive the education and training, but how to even find available funds and resources to train individuals that are destined to lead the organization now, and in the future.

What can organizations do to help solve this dilemma and assist in the transition between “education” and “experience”? Mentoring can assist.

Mentoring Leaders and Managers

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

There is nothing in this definition that denotes that the mentor must be older, of a higher job grade level, or have been with the organization for a longer period of time. The most important aspect is that the mentor has experience, knowledge, and skills that he/she wants to share with someone who needs them. In many cases, it may not even be the “knowledge” or the “skills”, but the experience – the application of that knowledge – that is most important.

We have learned that under the direction of the mentor, the mentee is given immediate access to valuable insights and past experiences. Within mentoring relationships, individuals are learning by doing, and they are able to practice what they are learning.

Another advantage of mentoring for an organization is that it showcases those individuals that have the necessary skills and competencies to coach and develop others. Many times these are the same types of skills and competencies that an organization wants demonstrated in its leadership. Even individuals that do not wish to take on a “managerial” or “supervisory” role within the organization can satisfy a desire to lead through a mentoring relationship, as well as enable their organization to tap into a greater pool of talent.

Many times, individuals do not gain any experience in specific coaching roles until after they have been given the title of “manager” or “supervisor." This places them in a reactive, rather than proactive, mode of learning. If individuals have the opportunity to learn and practice these skills and competencies as a mentor before they obtain their leadership position, they learn proactively, benefiting themselves, their mentees, and their organizations.

Mentoring Solutions

Using technology in implementing a mentoring process allows an organization to tap into its greatest asset – the knowledge capital and experience of its people. Insala's mentoring solutions assist in coordinating all mentoring activities from a single program, reducing search costs. All forms, assessments, etc., are easily accessible to participating mentor-mentee pairs, managers, and process coordinators.

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