Leaders exceed company standards in performance, communication, customer service, and teamwork. They are self-motivated, observant, and self-critical. They constantly try to improve their performance and the performance of their unit.
While some individuals may display the characteristics of a leader, it is difficult, if not impossible, to fully develop these skills without a mentor.
Mentors establish themselves as leaders and continue to develop their leadership skills. They share knowledge and skills with their coworkers to improve the services that they and their teams provide. They demonstrate ideals such as outstanding performance, knowledge, and interpersonal communication. They not only understand the basic skill sets needed, but they make an extra effort to gain skills that are not readily available. This involves learning from other leaders, including attending outside conferences or learning different techniques and procedures.
By displaying outstanding performance and service, they indirectly set an example. More direct efforts include discussing with others how to improve skills, how to channel their energy in a more productive manner, how to conduct themselves, and how to ask the right questions.
In others words, leaders create more leaders.
Mentoring is often done in a one-on-one setting. In this environment, the mentor serves as a teacher, a student, a motivator and a friend.
Mentors are good listeners. They offer the leader-candidate constructive criticism and praise. They are involved in asking the right questions as well as creating opportunities for their peers to develop and ask their own questions. They build relationships with the leader-candidate, they make themselves available, and they display both tolerance and discipline.
Because each employee has unique traits and learning capabilities, the environment and teaching style must be adapted the needs of the individual involved in the learning process.
Learning rarely occurs in linear fashion, and the mentor must be aware of this, and be responsive to the mentee’s attitudes and behaviors. The learning curve is filled with successes, both large and small, and valleys that can be a source of frustration and patience. A good mentor appreciates these phases, being a teacher and motivator in the positive learning phase, and acts a student and friend during the valleys working to understand the leader-candidate’s emotional state and providing support and distance, whenever necessary.
Stated differently, mentors are good listeners and communicators. They offer the mentee constructive criticism and praise. They are involved in asking the right questions as well as creating opportunities for their peers to develop and ask their own questions. They build relationships with the leader-candidate, they make themselves available, and they display both tolerance and discipline. This helps build bonds of trust between the two individuals.
Learning organizations embrace leadership and mentoring. Leaders create environments that encourage learning, development, and improved performance in their employees and teams.