Leadership Through Mentoring

In the Odyssey, Homer’s second epic poem, we are introduced to King Odysseus, who goes off to fight in the Trojan War, leaving his trusted advisor, Mentor, in charge of his kingdom. In addition to overseeing the kingdom in the ten years of Odysseus’ absence, Mentor takes on the role of teacher and guide to the King’s son, Telemachus.

And so was born Mentoring. Often regarded as the transfer of knowledge, institutional memory and mores, and a leadership skillset from the wise and trusted leader to an employee in the upper echelons of the organization, the mentor/mentee relationship can be casual or more formalized. In some organizations, having a mentor is a rite of passage. In others, less attention is given to the benefits of this approach.

What are the benefits to a strong mentoring program? Studies have demonstrated that a formalized, long term mentor-mentee relationship is the most productive and useful for an organization. In addition, a strong mentoring program can:

  • Enhance strategic business initiatives
  • Encourage retention
  • Reduce turnover costs
  • Improve productivity
  • Break down the "silo" mentality that hinders cooperation among company departments or divisions
  • Elevate knowledge transfer from just getting information to retaining the practical experience and wisdom gained from long-term employees
  • Enhance professional development
  • Link employees with valuable knowledge and information to other employees in need of such information
  • Support the creation of a multicultural and multigenerational workforce by creating relationships among diverse employees and allowing equal access to mentoring
  • Create a mentoring culture, which continuously promotes individual employee growth and development

As a leader, your objectives certainly include the benefits of a strong mentoring program. Sometimes, being an effective leader is as much about what you do, as what you don’t do. In a 2012 global CEO survey conducted by PwC, the impact of talent constraints on growth is staggering. See the Talent Constraint graph here: http://www.pwc.com/gx/en/ceo-survey/2012/explore-the-data.jhtml

Compare that to a 2010 survey, in which the Corporate Leadership Council of the Corporate Executive Board surveyed 880 high-potential employees. More than 25 percent said they planned to change jobs within the next 12 months. That's potential attrition 2.5 times greater than just five years earlier. Among the dissatisfied, 64 percent said their current employment experiences are having little impact on their development. (TheSociety for Human Resource Management (SHRM) notes in an article from August 2011).

What are your aspirations for your mentoring program for 2014?

How do you plan on measuring the success of your mentoring program?

What gaps exist with your current mentoring program?

As someone who has benefited from mentoring and as a mentor to others, I wish you success in your mentoring initiatives and look forward to your reaction to this blog post.

If you don’t already have a successful mentoring program in place, 2014 is the year to institute one in your organization. At Boxer Advisors, we believe strongly in “Translating Insights into Action”, and know that successful mentoring takes forethought. Our employee engagement programs are designed to work with your executives as well as employees, to bring you the greatest results.

Boxer Advisors is a full-service consulting, training and coaching firm with more than 50 professional consultants, facilitators, and coaches and carefully selected partners providing services to Federal agencies and Fortune 1000 companies since 1996.

Contact us today to learn more.

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