Mentoring: a leadership call to action
As a parent, business leader and former teacher, I am a firm believer that mentoring the next generation of leaders is the world’s greatest succession plan, a collective responsibility for all present-day leaders.
The success of economies and each individual organisation within them is centred on the quality of the people behind the decisions. It is therefore incumbent on all leaders to share their knowledge to help those with leadership potential.
Leaders investing energy and time into offering guidance over and above what they’re employed to provide is the secret to building a positive culture and record productivity. Young people need to know that it is okay to dream about a big life, but must understand that this does not come easily. It will require great resolve, hard work and persistence. They need to understand that during the tough times they will be blessed from what they learn.
It is important that we recognise that mentoring is not the same as managing – it’s more than managing. While supporting the development of your direct reports is naturally important, the mentoring I refer to is a function that sits over and above this. The strongest mentor relationships have independence about them.
Unlike a manager, a mentor’s responsibility isn’t to deliver instructions to reach operational objectives. The role of the mentor is to provoke the individual into thinking about what they should be considering when faced with a challenging issue or circumstance. No one’s journey is the same, so no one solution can ever be proffered. The most effective mentors are those who say the least, but provide a sense of conscience that the individual may, or may not, be taking the correct path. It’s about stimulating thought processes rather than providing an on-demand instruction manual.
I am constantly reminded of this during my interactions with young people via my online mentoring community, thenakedceo.com. Some 4 million young people from across the globe have visited the website and I have personally video responded to over 1,200 careerrelated questions. What drives this tremendous level of engagement is the ability for a young person to connect with a current leader who has no direct association with their life: my objectivity and experience are of equal importance to them. They know what I have to say comes from a completely impartial, rational place.
The desire for career guidance is as universal as leaders’ responsibility to fulfil it. And in a world cluttered with information and messages, the value of honest and wise counsel for our young people has heightened exponentially, meaning the role of the mentor in society will be even more critical than it has historically been. We need more leaders to invest the necessary time and energy into helping prepare young people. We must together work to fill the mentoring void. Consider this my leadership call to action.
CPA Australia acknowledges the invaluable contribution of platinum sponsors for the 130th Anniversary & 60 years in Hong Kong.