Why a whole month dedicated to mentoring? Because while its impact is transformational (not just transactional), people often overlook it.
12 Ways for Leaders to Celebrate National Mentoring Month:
- Be a Protégé
This one is easy! Who couldn’t use a little less learning-it-the-hard-way?
- Be a Mentor
What’s in it for you? Simple. People solidify their wisdom by imparting it. And if that doesn’t do it for you, don’t forget the trinity: ego, legacy, and altruism. They go a long way for our motivation.
- Act like a leader
It is an unwritten expectation that if you want to be a leader you need to mentor others. And then add in social cognitive theory which says that people look to their leaders to determine their own actions. So mentor, be mentored, and others will follow you.
- Intentionally strike up mentoring conversations
Listen for opportunities to contribute your hard-won wisdom. Ask for permission to share your insights. They’ll appreciate the gift. In addition, seek out mentoring from others to accelerate your own path. They’ll appreciate the ego boost.
Just like speed dating, speed mentoring brings people together to connect in a structured activity to mentor each other for 5-10 minutes and determine if they want to explore a mentoring relationship further. A fun way to launch any mentoring orientation, program, or initiative.
- Promote reverse mentoring
Andy Grove, founder and former CEO of Intel loved this! He dubbed people “Technical Assistants” and they taught senior executives the things they need to know to be successful, like marketing, branding, the Internet, and competition. Everyone thinks the people higher up know the most. Don’t let that assumption shortchange the wisdom and insights percolating at the bottom of the corporate ladder.
- Encourage peer mentoring
Need to break down silos? Need to blend cultures of two merged companies? Establish peer mentoring for people to connect cross-functionally, increase their understanding of how the company works, improve their work-effectiveness by expanding their network, and expand their community at the company.
- Launch group mentoring
People too busy for the commitment of 1:1 relationships? Invite them to lead or participate in a group mentoring lunch. Attendees bring their questions and the group Mentor imparts his/her wisdom. Everyone wins with the exposure and visibility this format offers.
- Train people how to win at mentoring
People just want to win. So show them how. Give them the training they need to be successful. At a minimum, teach them about expectations, goals, deliverables, boundaries, the 5 mentoring conversations, being a great Mentor, being a hungry Protégé, and being a supportive Manager.
January 26 is “Thank your Mentor Day.” Face it, you didn’t become a leader without some mentoring. Who shared their wisdom with you? Even unintentionally or informally? Thank them for their contributions to your success.
- Start your own mentoring program
Mentoring is the most cost-effective, time-efficient tool for leaders to transform people while driving organizational strategies. What kinds of strategies? Attracting talent, on-boarding, succession planning, leadership development, diversity & inclusion, productivity, effectiveness, cross-functional development, and talent/career development are just a few.
- Don’t let mentoring be your missed opportunity
If you don’t do anything about mentoring, it’ll happen anyway. People are mentoring each other every day, often accidentally, unintentionally, and informally. You, however, miss out on the opportunity to define it, direct it, own it, measure it, leverage it, and lead it. And this is essential if you are committed to making a difference with people and with your organization.