Why Do Leaders Need Mentors ?

Mentoring is an “in-thing” in today’s business , a strategy used to transfer knowledge and experience of an older generation to help the new gen workforce hold the ropes better. Mentoring has become key to bridging gap between hierarchies, acclimatising people to work culture, imbibing the right values and even plotting career trajectories. These models are however similar to the age old image of the wise old man who would be the mentor to a younger novice.

Studies undertaken on the effectiveness of such mentorship programs indicate that employees who are part of such initiatives either as mentors or as proteges have better career progressions, adapt well to their jobs and are more self -driven and satisfied. . They also go a long way in helping businesses to attract, retain and develop the best brains in the industry. Thus the money poured into such initiatives for early and mid- managers and professionals stands justified.

Businesses survive with the myth that leaders “know it all”. The popular belief is that they are capable of finding solutions to all problems, steering the vision and setting goals for the entire business. Why else would we call them leaders? But the fact is that leaders are as susceptible to mistakes as the rest of the human race. After all, they are one of them.

Senior managers undoubtedly face a number of challenges. One wrong move, can impact the businesses they run. The decisions which change contextually bring them fresh challenges. Whether it be deciding on a merger or managing divergent perspectives in a board meeting, the leader has to be upbeat with new talent.

In such situations where the stakes are huge, leaders would benefit from mentoring. A mentor is someone who has been in a similar situation and has devised a successful solution to overcome it. The counsel that such a person can provide can be a life saver here. The wisdom and experience that the mentor can give a protege is like a tailor made training program which matches the need of the hour perfectly.

The catch here would be determining the right mentor for a leader. There are a lot of business tycoons who openly admit to the fact that they have been mentored by their peers. The mentor would be a person who is not associated to the organisation, but who they have implicit trust on, who can be trusted to bring in fresh perspectives and come with the relevant experience. Sometimes a mentor can also be a person who comes from a totally different background giving the leader the lateral perspective he requires.

Mentoring sessions for leaders are mostly unstructured, informal and employ techniques like storytelling which would generate empathy and understanding and create memorable information sharing sessions. The sessions are also not very frequent and a lot of times can be impromptu depending on the nature of the problem faced.

As businesses become more demanding leaders must be capable of taking informed decisions that will benefit in the long run. If mentoring helps them get there, then why hesitate?


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