Mentorship is the path of true business leadership. It’s like opening the window and letting the light enter the human heart. Acting as a mentor is a responsibility many shirk. Either they feel they can’t spare the time or they feel there is no return on investment. If this is how you feel? However, reflect on how you are where you are today? It’s a no-brainer. You become the leader you are because others selflessly took the time to counsel and help you grow, stretch, and reach out of your comfort zone. Now is the time to give back. Not because you must, but because you want to. This feeling doesn’t originate in the head. It comes from the heart and is the true hallmark of business leadership.
Contrary to the popular view that most people are inherently selfish, self-centered and narcissistic, there are many who hold the opposite view. To succeed in any field, we all require role models. These unique personalities inspire us to do more, be more, and share more. Think of that great sage from Arunachala Mountain, Ramana Maharishi. He rarely spoke. He taught from the depths of silence because he understood the nature of mentorship.
This is particularly true in business education and career management. People in these fields have the power to help shape the destiny of another individual’s life. Remember, “A life is a terrible thing to waste.”
Acting as a mentor or coach is not about bottom lines. Leave this to the humorless accountants who would outsource every person’s job to God knows where on behalf of their soulless masters. Mentorship is about building relationships, authenticity, and recognizing that we belong to one family, the human family. When you see each individual as part of your Self, how can you turn someone away? This is why many societies are in meltdown mode. They were brought up to believe that only the Darwinians survive. They have forgotten that zero sum games have only losers. The rest of us were inspired by respected and successful people, who helped change our corner of the world.
The Beauty Of Mentorship
There is nothing more beautiful than watching some else succeed when you facilitate a growth environment. Sharing your expertise and experience is not just a way to leave an invisible legacy. It challenges you to use your knowledge in a creative and dynamic format.
Although you may have no wish to become the Dalai Lama, the mentoring experience will deepen your sense of humility and appreciation of everything around you. In this sense, we act as bridges across cultures, diversity, and even generations. Each of us was born with a sense of uniqueness within set communities. It is when we step beyond these frontiers and confront what is different do we optimize our potential and see that once superficialities are stripped away, we are indeed all the same.
This is a particularly useful skill set if we manage people. Managing people is not about giving orders like a drill Sargent having a bad hair day. It’s leading by example. Some individuals believe that a title empowers them to use authority and control to manipulate, humiliate, and intimidate. This is what one of my colleagues refers to as the France Telecom mentality. This is a casebook example on how not to manage or lead teams. Coercive leadership corrodes the heart and soul of the organization. It is a destructive path, which leads to negative outcomes and unproductive scenarios. Mentorship cannot flourish under these conditions.
A Question Of Balance
Mentorship requires an open heart. Having an open heart does not imply as Cole Porter wrote, “anything goes”. It demands honest criticism, which enhances the role of the protégé through guidance. Putting somebody down is not criticism. It is an exercise in bad behavior and at best stupidity. Demonstrate to junior colleagues that improvement comes through determination and the willingness to adjust by being pragmatic.
Fostering and retaining talent in any group demands a light hand not a hammer blow to an individual’s head. By providing a support network, careful planning, and implementation systems establish a series of reachable benchmarks. When you walk this path, you are building confidence. Remember that line in Skyfall: “Youth is no guarantee of innovation; Age is no guarantee of wisdom.” What is required is balance as the Buddha would say.
When people reach out, they help one another. Ultimately the path of mentorship gives satisfaction to everyone. Changing somebody’s life by providing them with the tools to build a successful future is beautiful indeed.
Article Title: Why Mentorship Must Embody Human Values
Photographs: curated by ES
About The Author
Andrew Scharf shares enchanting stuff on the topics of marketing, innovation, talent development, coaching, enchantment, and craftsmanship. He is also the head Koi at CAREO, a career management consultancy under the WCW Group brand.
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