The best way to be the best is learn from the best.
As the saying goes “there is no substitute for experience”. I personally believe the saying should be “there is no substitute for GOOD experience” as experience itself does not help you to become better unless it were part of a learning process, hence a GOOD experience. A fast track way to learning the things only good experience can give is having a mentor. The value of having a mentor is they can assess your actions and decisions through the context of comparing to the experiences they have had them-self. Mentors who are skilled at giving feedback can then break up things into small parts so you can learn and “benefit” from their experience.
A mentor breaks down the learning process into small parts so you can benefit from their experience.
The ideal mentor is someone in the company where you work who has done your job before and welcomes guiding someone younger or less experienced. However usually one won’t be so lucky to have this set up, so the alternative is someone you know who is more experienced (in a good way) and welcomes the role of helping you to develop. Also perhaps even better than this is contracting a reputable life coach who has a background in leadership. What is important is your mentor see them-self not as your friend but as your teacher whose role it is to help you be the best you can be. A good mentor makes time for you, listens to what you have to say with an open mind but is not afraid to pass on advice to you even when you don’t want to hear it. A mentor should be both the sounding board for the ideas you are unsure about but also someone who passes judgement on your decisions and actions as a good mentor is there to judge you but in way that educates you in what they have learned.
A good mentor must be someone who judges your actions and decisions.
The ideal set up for mentoring is to have a set contact point each week. The manager being mentored should bring to the table all the things they need to discuss and get feedback on. It is important you don’t fear being judged as doing so you will not be open to the feedback given. The mentor of course must be supportive and care about you making progress but, as said before, they must above all desire to help you to release your potential and they should be prepared to be “cruel to be kind” as the benefit of a good mentor is they give you the feedback your staff won’t and often to learn and progress you do need to hear the things you don’t want to hear.
One of the big benefits of a mentor is they tell you the things a staff member won’t.
A great manager not only has their own mentor but also mentors their own staff. A key component to building up emotional bank is fulfilling the role of helping your staff to become better at their jobs and even at times better people. Most staff who are inspired by their leaders are so because they recognize the capacity that person has to make them and other team member’s better. Mentoring, which for me is giving feedback in way that helps the person to learn and develop, is a key part of getting your staff to follow you. So to be leader you want to be, find yourself a mentor who will push you to be the very best you can be and start embracing your role of mentoring your staff to be the best they can be.
A great manager is someone who mentors the members of their team.
What to do?
Find yourself a mentor who can guide you on your journey to becoming the leader you want to be. Start listing the things you want to cover in each meeting and continue to develop and fine-tune this list. When you feel ready, offer to be a mentor for someone else. Note via passing on your knowledge you will also learn it even better.