After over three decades in Advertising, Marketing and Digital worldwide, I often get asked by clients and my staff, what are your key steps and tips in enhancing, boosting, developing and building powerful ‘mindsets’ for my team and staff.
To my way of thinking, a role model should be someone you know and interact with on a regular basis, or it might be someone you’ve never met, such as a celebrity. But, as I kid growing up, I always looked up to those, I thought were ‘the best people’, whether it was sports heroes, business leaders or even friends or family that had aligned both their training and their mental edge for maximum gains, and the way they inspired people on the field or off the field.
Importantly, in my mind, the best leaders and mentors always focused on helping to shape other people’s character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect. I have also observed this in more purpose-driven, more tech-enabled work environments.
MENTORING AND COACHING: SIMILAR BUT NOT THE SAME
Mentorship is a key factor in turning good employees into highly successful employees. Great mentoring helps instill trust, appreciation, growth, engagement, and most importantly, increases employees overall confidence. Moreover, great mentorships help turn employees into real leaders.
The terms mentoring and coaching (and role models) often get used interchangeably, which sometimes misleads people. While similar in their support of someone’s development, they involve very different disciplines in practice.
Mentoring consists of a long-term relationship focused on supporting the growth and development of the mentee. The mentor becomes a source of wisdom, teaching, and support, but not someone who observes and advises on specific actions or behavioral changes in daily work.
Coaching, on the other hand, typically involves a relationship of finite duration, with a focus on strengthening or eliminating specific behaviors in the here and now. Coaches help professionals (both, business or sport) to correct behaviors that detract from their performance or strengthen those that support stronger performance around a given set of activities.
For instance, NBA star Stephen Curry was able to grow into a team leader thanks to the mentoring, direction and freedom to play his game when he was traded to the Golden State Warriors in 2009 after he was selected the seventh overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft.
Stephen Curry instantly added immense inspiration to his new team and all the players around him. I believe the biggest difference with Stephen at the Golden State Warriors was in the leadership. It was better for them. A lot of the younger players on his team had suffered from a lack of direction. But, when Stephen arrived, he armed them with invested leadership and mentorship, and they all instantly thrived.
Picture: Stephen “Steph” Curry II is an American professional basketball player for the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association. A six-time NBA All-Star, he has been named the NBA Most Valuable Player twice and won three NBA championships with the Warriors.
In 2014-15, Curry won his first MVP award and led the Warriors to their first championship since 1975. The following season, he became the first player in NBA history to be elected MVP by a unanimous vote and to lead the league in scoring while shooting above 50-40-90. That same year, the Warriors broke the record for the most wins in an NBA season en route to reaching the 2016 NBA Finals, which they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Curry helped the Warriors return to the NBA Finals in 2017,2018 and 2019, and they won back-to-back titles in 2017 and 2018.
What is a mentor?
Simply put, a mentor is an experienced and trusted adviser who trains employees or students. Additionally, how to be a mentor will vary from person to person, but having an open mind and giving support should always be present within mentorship.
What Mentors Do for You:
- Take a long-range view of your growth and development.
- Help you see the destination but does not give you a detailed map to get there.
- Offer encouragement and cheerleading, but not “how-to” advice.
A Mentor Does Not:
- Serve as a coach, as explained above.
- Function as an advocate of yours in the organizational environment such as your boss would; the relationship is more informal.
- Tell you how to do things.
- Support you on transactional, short-term problems.
- Serve as a counselor or therapist.
Good mentors will:
1. ESTABLISH GOALS EARLY
Before you begin to train or educate your mentee, take the time to first lay out what you both want to accomplish. Laying out expectations is also important if you are still getting to know your mentee; furthermore, it creates accountability with both parties. E.g. sharing your goals and fears openly, not expecting specific advice, sharing when you are struggling or failing, etc.
2. GET TO KNOW YOUR MENTEE
Along with establishing goals, find ways that can better strengthen your relationship as you begin your mentorship. Meet in person, make it informal by grabbing coffee or ice cream together—the goal is to get to know each other on a personal level. You should come out of the meeting knowing more about their personality, likes/dislikes and how they communicate with others.
Another important factor when getting to know your mentee is to really listen to what they have to say. Don’t feel that because you’re the mentor, you have to dominate the conversation. Instead, take the backseat and ask thoughtful questions to show respect while at the same time, learning something new about your mentee.
Importantly, always invest your time in seeking out a mentor with whom you feel a natural fit.
3. GIVE ADVICE AT THE RIGHT TIME
As a mentor, giving advice is your number one priority. What do we mean when we say to give advice at the right time? Really it comes down to your mentee and what mentorship tactics will work best for them. Advice and feedback doesn’t always have to be immediate.
In fact, good feedback often depends on the timing. At the end of the day, you should always be supportive, but you also want to help your mentee learn on their own.
The bottom line – a mentor can make a real difference in your career and life. So you should come to the relationship with realistic expectations about the role and. with a willingness to work hard. The impact of a mentor’s guidance and wisdom may not be felt for some years to come, but you will realize its positive impact over time and, hopefully go on to mentor others.
4. SHOW APPROVAL
Especially if you want more engagement on the mentee side, it’s vital that you celebrate their achievements. Recognition is a simple tactic that can help increase engagement and overall confidence
5. BE A ROLE MODEL
Lastly, like great leaders, mentors need to practice what they preach.
As a role model, I believe my goal is to not only provide direction and advice, but to get my mentee to act upon them. And while conversations can be motivating, few things are more impactful than to lead by example. A mentor’s mantra must be: ‘Do as I do, not just as I say.’
Part of the learning process for your mentee will be to observe and pick up on your work habits and leadership qualities. As such, you need to exhibit positive behavior even during stressful times because your mentee will be observing your behavior and actions. As you mentor, work to be an example of who the mentee should be like.
At the end of the day, these tips will help you on your quest to support employees, build their confidence and ultimately, bring out the best in them. Increasing an employee’s confidence is critical in their career progression. Armed with confidence, employees become more motivated, creative in ideation as well as problem solving, and can face challenges head on.
Finally, I have always believed that Mentorship and sponsorship are key drivers of success today and beyond. However, I personally believe women often have a harder time finding mentors and sponsors, especially ones with influence. BUT, over the years, I have learned to never give up and always take a ‘no’ as a maybe!
To your continued success, and remember all great relationships are built on trust which is a two-way street.
Mentorship is about being “exceptional” and having the right “exceptional people” around you, in other words, individuals committed to helping others become fuller versions of who they are.
About Geoff De Weaver:
Super strategist who directs Fortune 500 clients to define their vision, create a strategy, and harness their internal innovation to grow their business or reinvent their products.
Expert at building and transforming brands, businesses, and digital and physical customer experiences at scale.
History of success developing and executing cross-channel global marketing campaigns to drive brand positioning, equity, and awareness while increasing engagement and sales and loyalty.
Innovative entrepreneur, author, speaker, and advertising executive with vast expertise driving business growth, reinventing brands, and implementing global marketing campaigns.
Connect with me at:
Twitter at: https://twitter.com/geoff_deweaver
Amazon Authors on: Geoff’s Books, Biography and Blog
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