Basic Skills for outstanding leadership 12 – Mentoring │© Fola Daniel Adelesi

Every successful leader must be able to replicate his or her success in other people and to do that you must have the ability and as well create the time to mentor people. We have seen great changes happening around the world as a result of mentoring. The great Martin Luther King junior who led a revolution to fight for racial equality in the United States lived by the non-violent resistance principle of Ghandi in India! Very many people now believe that the result of that mentoring is a black Barack Obama in the White House. Mentoring can take place in the form of a direct and close working relationship and it can also be a distant relationship sustained by the works you create for others to learn from.
In this case I am looking at a close working relationship and a deliberate effort to nurture the abilities in younger people. Mentoring is so many things to so many people but I can definitely tell you that mentoring is not imitation! I have seen several young people who try to talk like their mentors and dress like their mentors. When you see them you can’t think of any other thing but the person they are try to imitate. A few of them have gotten it all wrong so much that they imitate excessively and you wonder why they can’t be real with themselves. Talking like someone does not prove that the person has mentored you and walking or dressing like someone is not the evidence of mentoring except the person in question is a fashion mentor to you. As a mentor to others, you have to ensure that you are not training people to imitate you but to become successful in their chosen endeavour.
If you have a working relationship with a mentor or you are mentoring other people I should say that the relationship ought to help with the following:
The person you are mentoring can learn in a few minutes some of what you have learnt in several years. If you are the one who is being mentored then you can take advantage of the years of experience of the person mentoring you.
You can have a nice idea but your mentor will be able to dissociate himself from your nice idea and tell you where things can possibly go wrong! As a mentor you will find it easy to analyze the beautiful idea your protégé is giving you because you are not the one burning with zeal for that idea. You have also had some wonderful ideas either as a young person or as a leader that also failed and you can use such experiences to guide.
You may think you have done everything that needs to be done to lead as a person but your mentor will show you a few other things that still need to be done. As a mentor you might be able to point out to your protégé that in leadership, everything is not about action. Sometimes it could just be about the relationship with the followers.
I can summarize anything that anyone will tell you about mentoring by saying mentoring is simply about providing some sort of guidance for someone else until they can replicate your success.
A mentoring relationship should set some goals for the person who is being mentored. That way, you can measure the mentoring progress and also see some improvement in the leadership skills of the protégé.
We cannot over emphasize the need for mentoring and when people ask why mentoring is important I can easily say that mentoring is as important as the reproductive activities of human beings. We as human beings have to reproduce for continuity of the human race and we as leaders should mentor other people for the continuity of our success. There are several people who are struggling and do not know what to do with themselves. As a leader you should never allow the people who are in your team to struggle without providing some kind of mentoring for them.
Please be reminded that mentoring is not about spoon feeding the people and telling them everything they must do and when they must do those things. Mentoring is not supposed to be like a manual for a product that details everything on the product and how everything can be operated even when it is obvious.
In order to have some form of effective mentoring, it is only proper to make sure that the people you are mentoring are really interested in leading other people and getting things done. Having ensured that, I suggest you take the learn-on-the-go approach for the people you are mentoring. What that means is that you will allow them to go and practice things on their own and only to come back to ask you questions about things that are not clear to them.
When mentoring you have to be real and practical. Sometimes you also have to be tough. In some cases you have to try as much as possible to remember when you were in the situation of your protégé so that your counseling can be very effective. If you have become so successful as a leader or even in business and do not remember the experience of what your protégé is going through, you will not be able to mentor well. One rule in teaching that also applies to mentoring because mentoring is teaching is the rule that says, ‘If you must teach John Latin, you must know John and you must know Latin. In other words, if you are going to mentor effectively you need to know the person that you are mentoring to an extent.
Be open to teach others what you know and when you do that, you will end up creating a legacy for yourself because you would have replicated yourself in others. Keep leading, keep teaching, keep mentoring!
Fola Daniel Adelesi
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