When you started out in your career, there were plenty of people higher up on the corporate ladder than you. These were people who were doing what you wanted to do, who could show you how to get where you wanted to go.
If you were lucky, one of these people agreed to invest their time in you and became your mentor.
Even Experienced Leaders Need a Mentor
Plenty of studies have proven the benefits of mentoring for emerging leaders on the rise. Mentoring programs are increasingly available, providing new leaders with the knowledge and skills they need to grow, leading to greater job satisfaction and more rapid advancement.
But what happens when leaders reach a certain level of success?
Many leaders at the pinnacle of their careers find they’ve outgrown the mentoring that helped them get there. They may have reached a level where they can begin to mentor others — which provides great benefits for both the mentor and mentee — but this role reversal can give them the sense that they have transitioned beyond the need for a mentor of their own.
Even if they wish to continue a mentoring relationship, often there’s simply no one higher-up in their organization who can serve as their mentor.
But if you believe that a mentor only helps you climb higher, you’re missing out on the real benefits of leadership mentorship. The best leaders know they need to continually improve. A mentor can help you do just that.
If you’re a high-level executive, here are some signs you need mentoring:
You feel lonely or isolated in your role.
You’re having trouble making decisions.
You’re getting complacent or stagnant in your work.
You’re feeling the pressure to carry the burden of responsibility alone.
You’re beginning to think about your legacy; you don’t just want to be successful, you want to build something of significance.
You have a commitment to lifelong learning, growth, and professional development.
How Experienced Leaders Benefit From Mentoring
Here are 10 reasons mentoring is important for leaders.
1. A Mentor Provides Encouragement and Support.
A mentor is someone who wants to see you succeed. You can trust that they have no ulterior motive or hidden agenda. They’re there to celebrate your wins and to help you regroup after your losses.
2. A Mentor is Someone You Can Trust.
As a leader, it’s risky to be too vulnerable about your shortcomings and fears within the boundaries of your organization. That’s why, for executives, an ideal mentor is someone outside your company — or even your industry — with whom you can be totally honest and transparent.
In his role as a CEO Mentor, Tom Brewer offers his mentees “the assurance that they are able to talk to him in confidence with trust and authenticity, knowing he is not a stakeholder or paymaster.”
3. A Mentor Helps You Make Better Decisions.
Leaders make crucial decisions that impact every employee in the organization. When faced with a difficult decision, you can bounce ideas off your mentor and get their insight. This can help you to challenge your thinking and sharpen your own decision-making skills.
A 2015 study published by HBR found that, of CEOs who engage in formal mentoring, 84% said their mentor helped them avoid costly mistakes. 69% also said they were making better decisions as a result of working with their mentor.
4. You Can Learn From Your Mentor’s Example.
High-level executives face a set of challenges unlike anything they’ve encountered on their way to the top. When you work with a mentor who has already been there, you get the benefit of learning from their real-world experiences. With their hard-earned wisdom and practical insight, you can avoid common pitfalls and follow in the footsteps of their successes.
The life of an executive is demanding. You might be alone at the top of your particular corporate ladder. But with the help and encouragement of a great mentor, it’s not so lonely after all.
Building Champions exists to make a positive and lasting difference in the life of each person we coach, one person at a time. As experienced business and non-profit professionals, our Coaches are dedicated to helping clients grow their business, build stronger teams and become even more successful leaders.