Mentoring Tomorrows Leaders

We work in a multi-generational workplace, the baby boomers and traditionalists are aging out of their roles and creating a void where knowledge is not being shared with the upcoming generation. The term mentor dates back to Greek Mythology and describes the relationship between a younger adult with an older more experienced adult who helps the younger adult navigate the adult world.  Jan Roeser from Idaho Department of Labor said: “we need those aging out of their current roles to share their knowledge.” The older generations have a plethora of knowledge and wisdom that we do not want to lose.

Many times, the older generations have said that the younger generation doesn’t want to learn from them. This challenge is as old as time.  Throughout history, the younger generation has rebelled and want to do things their way. Do not misunderstand, the younger generations have wonderful, creative, fresh ideas. With these ideas they still need to collaborate with others, ask questions, listen to what has succeeded and failed with the older generations, their experience will often guide you so that you do not repeat the same mistakes they made.

Recently I learned of experience from a four generational business that has profited from the mentorship relationship. The business was drawing up plans for a facility expansion. The younger generation credited the older generation for providing valuable insight into thinking bigger and further into the future. This collaboration resulted in a facility expansion that has room for more growth in the years to come.

No one can do it alone. We need each other, the smartest and most successful people credit their success to their mentors. Oprah Winfrey had Maya Angelou, Bill Gates has Warren Buffet and Mark Zuckerberg credits Steve Jobs. We need each other and we need to be humble enough to recognize that we need others to guide us, to be our sounding boards, to be our cheerleaders. We need to ask our elders advice and then listen.

There are many reasons for mentoring.

  • Eliminates re-inventing the wheel
  • Gain New Perspectives and fresh ideas
  • Improves productivity

Steve Jobs said: “A small amount of time invested on your part to share your expertise can open up a new world for someone else.”

The benefits of having a mentor are not only for a source of learning but it also plays a key role in the development of self-esteem, career satisfaction, commitment and lowers turnover rates.

Inc.com’s article outlined five types of mentors.

  • Master of Craft
    • These are the experts in their field. People who are well connected. Remember it takes 10,000 hours (or 5 Years) to become an expert. The Master of their craft has valuable knowledge, through successes and failures that need to be shared.
  • Champions
    • These are the people who see your potential, energy and take you under their wing to help guide you along.
  • Co-Pilots
    • This is the buddy, peer colleague who supports you and collaborates with you as well as hold you accountable. As a mentor it is important to set goals with the mentee, to hold them accountable as you help guide them with their goals and endeavors.
  • Anchors
    • Trustworthy mentors who are always there when you need them. They provide objective advice and compassionate support as needed. As an Anchor, you develop listening skills and make yourself approachable and available. This relationship can utilize today’s technology tools of email and texting to keep a regular connection.
  • Reverse Mentors
    • This is where the mentee/mentorship relationship is one where the mentee can give feedback to the mentor on their leadership style.

In an article EDUcuasereview.edu states that each one of us has the potential to mentor another person, to be a role model. Mentoring another person is an investment in the future and the success of the future workforce.  Mentors can equally learn new skills from the mentee.

It doesn’t matter what you do for a living – if you do it well someone was cheering you on or showing you the way. Throughout my career, I have learned valuable skills from both mentors and mentees. Including leadership skills, networking skills, technology skills and much more. We all need each other and we especially need to invest more in the upcoming workforce to share our expertise and knowledge. The relationships we build as the mentor/mentee will last for a lifetime as well as help move the economy forward.

Cheryl Viola, MBA, Executive Director

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