As I see it, the fastest moving field in the world is Sales. In the sales environment (perhaps in other departments as well), we will first exposed to advice from our experienced seniors that we must be a good follower before we could become a leader. In many companies, it is called “duplication” exercise. You know, you duplicate my actions while you are still new and inexperienced. You follow everything I do and say, sales techniques, sales scripts and the whole package. “You must work hard first before you know how to work smart“.
When one is promoted to being a Manager, he or she will have to manage a group of people in carrying out their responsibilities. Steer everyone to the common path to meeting company objectives. Time changed and so did organisational behaviour. Manager is no longer seen as good as being a Leader. So, now instead of being a Manager, we become a Leader. Leader is seen as someone pro-active and you know, lead by example? Some stick to the old ways but some adopt the change. Leader aren’t afraid of change. They are THE change agent!
More studies were done on human behaviour, job satisfaction, succession planning and what-have-yous. Then, someone wise out there discovered being a Mentor has more advantages in generating future leaders! Mentor is about relationships, personality growth and potential and skills. It requires leadership, courage and commitment from both parties, the mentor and the person being mentored, namely a protegé. It involves coaching, counselling, communication and listening skills. And of course, a lot of passion in sharing and patience. If you don’t have the last two, it’ll be a steep uphill experience for you to be a mentor. You may end up being a reluctant mentor.
As a mentor, you are a role model, cheerleader and coach combined. I think Mentor is more wholesome than Coaching too. Coaching, to my understanding and experience, is to provide guidance to you and then, allows you space to experiment and make mistakes; You must take the initiative to make adjustments along the way – I call it “a self-discovery journey“. You can count on the Coach to point out to you, when appropriate, what went wrong and explore possibilities with you, to rectify the situation. Mentor covers more than that – and it may go on more personal level too. It touches on your overall attitude, actions, personal image, business and social etiquette, etc.
It is also a bit of “duplication” but more personalised to suit your character and style of doing things. Duplication is like the copier machine, what you see is what you do. Mentoring is more of copying and improvising to suit your personality. Just like my former boss used to tell me. “Alice, to move ahead, you must always copy and improvise“. Very sound advice indeed! Learn from the successful ones but make necessary changes to suit yourself, i.e. your beliefs, personality and environment, before you apply it.
A good mentor encourages the protegé to believe that you can get to where he/she is. He/she will practice the values he/she preached – walk his/her talk. He/she is not selfish and a good role model. It is not easy being a mentor. You must have the passion to teach and guide, great patience and the ability to share what you know and can do. You must have a plan to work on to deliver better results. You must realise that every action will be copied by your protegé. So, you’d better get accustomed to this.
Of course, you can’t just mentor anybody. The person must want to be a protegé or, you’ll be pulling the reluctant horse to the water. Try that and see how difficult it can be. A good protegé must be a willing “student”, possess self-discipline and be pro-active too. It doesn’t take a day to change, so learn well and keep up. When the goings get tough, the tough gets going. Bear with it when things go wrong. Learn from mistakes. You think it’s tough, watch how people learn kung fu!
Why mentoring? If you can be a mentor to your subordinates or your junior partners (whichever applicable), you are actually duplicating your knowledge and skills. No organisation would say no to increased skilled personnel, who can perform their works as efficiently as you. Besides, it increases productivity, the “bottom line” (sales revenues/profits) and morale of the organisation! Don’t worry about giving and losing all that you have. Of course, please don’t make a profit out of mentoring (e.g. charge your protegé!).
If you are an employee, a model employee that is, groom a potential candidate for your position. This does not mean your junior will become smarter, take over your room and position, and kick you out. Have you ever thought the possibility of your employer knowing this, would first consider you as a candidate for promotion since you have already created a successor for your post? You’ll be free to fly higher and your department would still carry on with the new head without a hitch!
I am a firm believer of blessings from God and the Law of Universe. I also trust that what goes around, comes around – be it good or bad. Here, if you give, you’ll have some empty space for God to fill up for you. He’ll keep topping up for you if you keep giving out – with the new knowledge or opportunities, you’ll explore new grounds and progress. Just like, when your petrol tank is full, how are you going to fill it up some more, right?
Therefore, if you keep all within yourself and refused to share just because you are afraid people might become smarter than you, you’ll end up being on the losing end. The world is so big! It’s like a huge gigantic cake. Can you stomach all of it? No way, right? You’ll have bad stomach and suffer the whole night! Share the cake then. When your protegé “graduates”, he/she will always remember this amazing “teacher” forever, and you being the proud “Mentor” watching your protegé takes flight to soar like an eagle. You have earned yourself loyalty and high respect from this person(s). You have made a great contribution back to the society. Yes, you have!
God gives us everything and He can also take them all away. When He does take away something, or you keep experiencing rough patches along your journey, we must ask ourselves, “What have we not done enough?”. Stop yourself from blaming people around us or God. There is a reason why He does that…only you can search for the answer.
It’s TGIF! For those who celebrate Easter, Happy Good Friday today and Happy Easter! For the rests, Wishing you a Wonderful Weekend.