Chances are, most successful individuals have benefited from being mentored by a CEO, owner or another business leader at some time in their professional career. If you’re among this group, you’ll likely remember how valuable the experience proved to be.
Generally speaking, mentors work with talented employees because of a sincere desire to see them succeed. “The goal isn’t to master a particular skill, reach a specific goal, or bolster the company’s knowledge base,” notes marketing expert Jodie Shaw. “Although it can involve tasks and timelines, it’s really about helping the mentee grow and develop as a professional over his or her career.”
What about the benefits inherent in being a mentor?
Taking on the role and responsibilities of mentoring may seem time-consuming and lacking in any clear ROI for the business leader involved. But this is a narrow interpretation of what becoming a mentor actually means. In fact, sharing your wisdom and experience can prove to be immensely helpful and satisfying to the person in this role. Here’s a brief look at some of the benefits involved:
Staying up-to-date with Industry trends: The skills and knowledge that enabled you to achieve leadership status can sometimes get stuck in place. Market conditions change. Industry trends come and go. Becoming a mentor means you need to reaffirm interest in the most up-to-date events in your field, so you’re not dispensing inaccurate or unhelpful advice to the mentee. As a result, you supplement your own knowledge and experience at the same time.
In some cases, you may be mentoring an individual who has attended industry-related academic courses and/or gathered more recent with changing industry trends. In the course of your mentoring sessions, it’s probable they’ll share with you the latest developments in the field, so you’ll benefit from the exchange of views, too.
Enhanced Leadership skills: As a mentor, you may find yourself expressing views and insights in ways that might surprise you. During your mentoring sessions, “you have the chance to reflect on and articulate your own expertise and experience—something you probably don’t take the time to do otherwise,” notes business author E. Wayne Hart.
Also, Hart adds, mentoring may help you “view the organization with a fresh eye towards its functions, politics, and culture.” Such insights may prove very useful in devising new strategies to change the workplace culture for the better.
Professional network expansion: A successful relationship with a mentee generally results in a broadening of the mentor’s own professional network. For one thing, if the person you mentor goes on to become a leader in his or her own right, you’ll have a valuable, high-level (and likely very grateful) contact that might result in more business for your organization.
Yes, mentoring requires time and occasionally some added patience, as the person you mentor struggles with his or her personal and/or professional challenges. But the benefits you receive as the mentor—personal satisfaction, greater industry credibility, an enhanced ability to listen closely—far outweigh those disadvantages.
A CEO peer advisory board is another way of mentoring—with tangible benefits for any business owner’s company.