Leadership mentoring is an interesting topic because it can be effective on two levels. Firstly, a leadership mentoring relationship can be one where a mentee is keen to progress within an organisation and wants to connect with a mentor who can help them to develop their leadership skills.
At the other level, becoming a mentor can also help to develop some very important qualities that are invaluable in great leaders.
Manager versus Leader
Let’s start by looking at the key differences between a manager and a leader. Very broadly speaking the key difference is that a manager will focus on planning, organising and co-ordinating resources to complete tasks and deliver results. In contrast, a leader will inspire, motivate, and influence those around them, which will drive people to achieve their goals and objectives whilst working towards the bigger picture.
Very often you can distinguish a manager from a leader by virtue of the fact that people may feel compelled to follow managers due to their job title but will voluntarily follow a leader due to their vision and encouragement.
Making the switch from manager to leader can be a difficult transition. Very often people are promoted to the level of manager due to technical competency not necessarily because of leadership skills and as we can see from the above definition, the skills required of a leader are very different to those of a manager. This doesn’t mean that a manager can’t nurture and develop leadership skills. So, let’s look at how mentoring can help to do this.
Increase Self Awareness
As a leader it is very important to have an awareness of others and how you are impacting them. It is often difficult to get honest feedback about this, so this is one area that a mentor can provide valuable input and help to work on developing greater self-awareness.
As a manager you are often encouraged to have a laser focus on achieving specific goals, as a leader you need to be able to broaden this perspective and develop a wider organisational focus. Working with a mentor or indeed a number of different mentors or mentees who have a different perspective and experience can be very beneficial.
Networking is key for an effective leader, having a limited network can limit career development opportunities. Mentoring can help both mentees and mentors to develop their network and hence their potential to increase their visibility, to get advice and widen their perspective.
Improve Communication and Interpersonal Skills
The ability to be a good communicator is another vitally important skill of a great leader. The mentoring relationship provides a space for both mentor and mentee to develop effective communication, listening and questioning skills.
Leadership Skill Development For Mentors
It is often assumed that it is the mentee that benefits from a mentoring relationship, however it is very clear that it can also be advantageous to mentors.
Research has shown that in helping mentees to solve problems, mentors practice their own leadership skills and this contributes to their development as leaders.
Great leaders have the desire to share knowledge, expertise, and lessons learned throughout their careers with other members of the organisation, and mentoring affords the opportunity to do this. By sharing this experience, it gives the mentor a better awareness of what they have learnt in their career and this can be a great confidence booster.
Learn and apply different leadership styles
Leaders who are willing and able to adapt their leadership style to align with every new situation become the most respected and trusted individuals in a company. Mentoring gives leaders the chance to improve on their established leadership approach and develop new leadership techniques as they work with different personalities, styles, and skillsets.
By working with mentees from different backgrounds it provides the opportunity for leaders to gain a greater understanding of the issues faced by different individuals and groups within their organisation and to be able to then better inspire, lead and provide more opportunities for these individuals.
If you would like to improve your leadership skills, why not take a closer look at our mentoring programme.