Mentoring by Richard Gourlay

How do leaders get better at their role? 

Do leaders learn from their errors or just repeat them? 

If you are a leader, how do you learn and develop your leadership skills?

There are many ways to grow as a leader, from formal to informal learning. The most effective way to grow as a leader is to acquire a mentor, someone to actively support a leader develop, or polish their leadership skills. Developing leadership skills enables directors and senior people to get more out of their existing people, from other colleagues and employees, through to fellow leaders and other stakeholders. 

Successful leadership is a critical component of business success. The expectations on leaders to find solutions for everyone within the organisation has never been higher.  That expectation creates pressure on leaders, challenging them to find answers and solve both existing and emerging problems. 

How leaders deal with those pressures varies depending upon a number of personal and situational factors. Their business and personal background, experience and most importantly the resources they have at their disposal are the most common factors.

Mentoring is one key resource which leaders need to develop for themselves. It supports leaders growth by providing experienced people around them to openly and frankly discuss and resolve their key challenges. Mentoring also allows leaders’ to discuss ideas enabling them to develop their certainty and confidence in where they are leading their organisation.

Leadership Mentoring programmes

Supporting leaders to find and sustain their performance is often best delivered by external mentors. Successfully mentoring leaders starts by creating a safe-space where leaders can share and discuss their challenges openly. This is where using a non-aligned, experienced mentor provides an effective way to support and develop leaders to achieve their full potential. Non-aligned mentoring provides an external sounding board which provides both diversity of opinion and external experience to build a robust mentoring experience.

Having mentored leaders for over twenty years Richard Gourlay provides mentoring support packages to support and advise directors, leaders and senior people in organisations both large and small. Contact me here to learn more about our mentoring packages: leadership mentoring 

Mentoring is Good Leadership

Mentoring other people is a great leadership skill to develop. Creating a mentoring culture within your workplace is an excellent way to develop a positive supportive team culture.. Mentoring brings out the best in you, in leading your people. Mentoring the people you lead, generates confidence, inspires trust and fast-tracks team development.  It also gets leaders closer to the frontline of their business and breaks down the vertical silo mentality which often exists within organisations.

For leaders being prepared to mentor defines what sort of leader you want to be. At the heart of the most successful, respected and desired leadership styles, the transformational leader the servant leader model, are effective mentoring cultures.   

Effective leadership development depends upon leaders being able to inspire employees, through effective communication. The other key skill leaders need to develop within their people is an open engagment culture, where ideas are cultivated throughout the organisation.   

Mentoring creates and sustains better, stronger and more resilient teams.  For leaders looking to reduce the pressure on themselves mentoring is a vital skill for themselves and others within their organisation. To reduce pressure on themselves and their fellow leaders and to get the best out of their people by creating a mentoring culture is seen as the most effective way to sustain a positive business culture.  Mentoring cultures can reduce tension, friction and frustration by fostering an open, sharing and trusting culture.

Developing A Mentoring Culture

Creating and fostering a mentoring business culture starts with leaders recognising the importance and value of mentoring. Mentoring is not a ‘tel’ culture’ from the top. It is a shared culture where everyone pulls together in shaping and forming a mentoring culture. 

The true value of mentoring requires a cultural approach to work. A mentoring culture requires both mentee and mentor to work together to develop shared mentoring skills, as summarised below. Without the right mentoring environment then these skills will not support a sustainable mentoring culture. 

Shared Mentoring Skills Matrix Shows the relationships between mentee and mentor in skills development between the two.
Mentoring Culture: Shared Mentoring Skills between Mentors and Mentees

The ABC Key Mentoring skills 

A: Be Open and Honest about what mentees want to learn

Non-one is perfect, no matter what past they have had or the job title they have today. Everyone needs to learn. So owning up to errors, failings or weaknesses is vital if a mentee is going to be mentored effectively.  Without that openness and honesty, a mentoring culture will not succeed.  

A mentoring culture requires the approach that we are all continuously learning. Even the most experienced and respected have had to tackle some unfamiliar tasks and they inevitably made mistakes.

For leaders being honest about mistakes reveals vulnerability. It makes them infinitely more human, approachable and a better leader. 

B. Be Genuinely Interested in your People

Getting to know team members on a personal level is vital as a mentor. Genuinely understanding people supports building stronger relationships with them. Seeing them as a person also enables them to share openly what they want to achieve.

Being genuinely interested in your mentees supports leaders to understand who they are as a person. From identifying their strengths and weaknesses, how they interact across the organisation.

Being able to listen without interruption is at the front of mentor leadership skills. This active listening skill unlocks the value a mentor provides to mentees. Good thoughtful questions that drive to the root cause of key issues for the mentees, moves the mentee forward.   

Being interested mentees growth also requires the hardest skill for a leader; do not provide the answer, ask the right question which gets them to find the answer. It is the self-discovery which makes mentoring valuable. That’s why mentees must be genuinely interested in their people.

C. Mentoring Adds Value

Mentoring cultures that support both mentors and mentees require both parties to value the process of mentoring. Positive mentoring cultures develop over time and enable organisations to pull together. That allows them to overcome hurdles which drive the organisation forward at a faster rate than other cultures. 

To support people leaders, need to create and sustain a learning culture. Where people learn and develop themselves. Resourcing people to learn rather than just do is central to a successful organisation.

Mentoring cultures need to be supported with people development planning. Supporting people with appropriate resources is central to a learning culture. From learning and development time, through to specific skills training programmes and mentoring development are essential that leaders provide to support that culture. 

People Development Planning provides an active development plan upon which mentors can support mentees. For leaders to create and develop a mentoring culture these are the core drivers of mentoring and creating a learning and development culture within your organisation.  

Like to know about our mentoring programmes to support leaders, then to get in contact now to learn more, just complete the form below.