On the way to work every day, I call the same person: a young leader at Marco who I see great potential in. When I arrive, I stop by the desk of another – and then another. My early mornings are often spent discussing relevant business issues, strategizing on opportunities, or sometimes just catching up with these people on a personal level.
If I miss any of these routine visits, it feels like I missed a big meeting. It’s that important to me and I know it provides value to them as well.
Successful leaders intentionally seek out people to mentor. I know I would not be where I am today without the guidance of a few good mentors. Now it’s time to return the favor and share the experience and wisdom I’ve gained over the years.
Investing Inside the Organization
My time spent mentoring could be considered somewhat selfish. Much of my mentoring is focused on enhancing Marco’s leadership team or positioning others for the future of Marco. I choose who I mentor carefully. I look for people who are making the right decisions and demonstrating leadership skills long before they earn a title, and then consciously invest the time in their personal development.
Identifying strengths and weaknesses in the potential leaders in our organization allows them to become more confident, more competent, and more valuable to the organization. When you invest in your people, you will always get a return.
That means I spend more time in one-on-one meetings with members of our leadership team than in management meetings that involve the entire group. It takes more time to mentor this way, but I’ve found it to be far more effective and efficient, especially when making difficult decisions.
Some of these leaders never will officially be identified as managers on the organizational chart; however, they may very well be considered leaders by their peers. Investing in these relationships helps us attract and keep talented people in our organization.
Investing Outside the Organization
While most of the mentoring I do is within Marco, I do spend time mentoring outside the organization as well. In some cases, individuals make an effort to be mentored. Most often, I sense the potential for leadership in a person that leads to perhaps a cup of coffee, lunch, or an email exchange. We talk about their situations and I share my experiences to help them outline their options.
Mentoring is an essential part of being a leader. Done correctly, you’ll learn just as much from them as they do from you. It’s not just one-sided. Everyone benefits from the experience.