This guest post was provided by Jessica Edmondson who contributes on Leadership skills training for the University Alliance, a division of Bisk Education, Inc.
“Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” Mark Twain
In today’s competitive business settings, leaders who cultivate influence have longer-lasting effectiveness and more powerful alliances than those who simply manage with top-down authority. When a leader relaxes control and promotes team cohesion, individual and group growth can bring about stronger working relationships and increased productivity.
If you are a professional looking to grow your leadership skills, then consider mentoring other professionals in areas in which you are proficient. Sharing your knowledge with someone who appreciates and can benefit from your experience is a rewarding practice. At the same time, seeking mentoring for your own advancement can be an effective way to polish a skill set and uncover hidden opportunities.
Many business-related organizations, such as the Professional Management Institute, offer opportunities for networking through local chapters. Participating in such events can lead to formal mentoring opportunities. In recent years, consulting firms have begun offering services to more precisely match up mentors and protégés. Additionally, through forums on LinkedIn and other networking sites, less-experienced professionals can post a question and receive feedback from other group members.
Other ways to seek out mentoring for yourself include approaching someone in your organization whose leadership style you admire. As an alternative work with your human resources contact to find a mentor in another division of the company who can teach you about a new area of interest. Taking an online course taught by a respected industry leader can also result in strong contacts for sustained mentoring.
Innovation, Inspiration and Influence
The best aspect of mentoring, either as a mentor or a protégé, is that the positive energy of a great mentoring experience can permeate your entire thought process and build you up more than any other single career development strategy. Coaching others to discover and reach their personal and professional potential feeds the entire team.
Whether as a leader or a protégé, you can reap the benefits of the synergy created when a team is enjoying frequent periods of personal development.
Organizations want to attract top talent. Gaining a reputation as a leader who fosters excellence in team members – and also seeks professional development to bring in new ideas and fresh perspectives – may provide a competitive advantage in a job search or promotion opportunity.
A Win-Win Opportunity
When Mark Twain was a newspaper columnist in Carson City, Nevada, he met humorist Artemus Ward who encouraged him to write as much of his unique brand of storytelling as time would allow. The two eventually championed each other’s work.
Everyone needs a mentor, and companies who value and promote mentoring are positioned to create a win-win environment. Tech-savvy younger professionals may be able to help older colleagues get up to speed in regards to their technological acumen. In return, more seasoned professionals can offer guidance on finessing soft skills and relating effectively in a corporate culture.
In an age where technology often insulates us from human connections, mentoring and coaching in the workplace offer great potential for innovation, insight and collective growth.