I see mentoring programs as an opportunity to reap multiple returns for an organisation and its people. However, when I hear leaders share their experiences during training and follow up there seems to be some variation in the perceived return on the time invested. Contrary to popular opinion, this is often not due to mentoring skills but to the context and messaging which has been set up around the program.
Leadership mentoring. Mentoring can be arranged in many ways. In this article, focus is on internal programs set up for leaders (or talents) to each receive mentoring from a more experienced colleague. This solution is increasingly chosen as an add-on or an alternative to formal leadership training or coaching by an external consultant.
Time Invested. We need to look at the total time invested in the leadership mentoring program. Some time will be spent designing, training and running the program but this can usually be done with low time investment. However, the key investment to be aware of is the time which each mentor and mentee spends preparing and holding mentoring meetings – time stolen from their other important tasks.
Multiple returns on investment. If this time is to be used succesfully – to add value to the individuals and the organisation – multiple returns need to be generated. Mulitple indirect returns must be added to the direct returns gained by the individual concerning the mentoring topic. This is where context setting and messaging become so important:
5 multiple returns which you should add:
- Performing people . Mentoring can help your leaders feel good about the people they work with. It can lead to new internal relationships and networks with like-minded leaders who are here to perform and work hard – using their skills to the best of their ability. If positioned correctly, leaders can feel energised by the good vibes of other colleagues who are likeable and who wish to create business impact with their full attention.
- Purposeful goals. Leadership mentoring can also add an increased sense of purpose. With the right messaging and set up, the organsiation’s purpose, values and beliefs can be integrated in the program and mentoring methodology. This helps leaders to feel more aligned with the organisation and the leaders around them who practice what they preach. They reach their purposeful goals by actually doing what they say in their leadership practice.
- You are not alone. Just as importantly, mentoring can add a feeling of support and learning. It can help leaders to feel that they are not alone but that they are ready to meet challenges and the unpredictable changes ahead. Leaders increase their awareness of having great colleagues around them where they can get support and learning. Good mentoring relationships can lead to a sense of readiness – to bravely take on the world whatever it has in store for us.
- Come as you are. This support can be further enhanced with an added sense of welcoming and belonging. Leadership mentoring can help leaders translate ‘who we are’ and ‘how we should behave’. With the right inclusive messaging and a diverse pool of strong mentors, leaders can be encouraged to join the organisation’s shared behaviours – while still being themselves. They are not asked to be leadership clones but to belong just as they are – openly showing their individuality, diversity and authenticity.
- Empowering others. Finally, mentoring can be an important cog in the wheels of power. If led from the top and messaged correctly, leaders with a strong power base can share their experiences of delegating power – how they humbly make room for others to act confidently and independently. Role modelling and asking questions about delegation and empowerment provide others with a humble focus on others which is key to leadership and organisational success.
These 5 indirect add-ons for the organisation and its people can be achieved through leadership (or talent) mentoring programs which are designed and messaged appropriately. It starts with the owners and organisers of the program. But it requires all participants to constantly challenge and inspire towards these multiple returns – before, during and after the program.