I absolutely love this photo of piano keys and the fact that, where you might be expecting a photo of a key that opens a lock, these keys create beautiful harmonies.
When we talk about successful mentor-mentee relationships, I think that’s critical.
Simply put, I believe the two keys to these relationships, simply based on my own experiences, are:
1. A trusted connection between the mentor and mentee
2. A genuine desire by the mentor to see the mentee succeed.
Now, you’d probably think that both of these would be a “given” in any mentor-mentee relationship. Yet, in my experience with more formal mentor-mentee programs, either as part of leadership development programs, corporate development programs, or as part of new employee onboarding initiatives, the connection is not always made. Thus the desire to see the mentee succeed is demonstrated at a surface level only.
This isn’t to say companies and executives can’t structure highly effective mentoring programs – they absolutely can. My fellow Marketing Executives Networking Group member Niki Fielding did a beautiful job of outlining an effective structure with boundaries and parameters in “How and Why to Mentor the Next Generation of Marketers” that I believe is applicable in many of the more formalized mentor-mentee relationships.
And I’ve talked with CEOs who feel very strongly about the importance of mentoring to the success of their companies and their ability to develop great leaders. These CEOs make more formalized mentoring a priority in their organizations.
My overriding experience has simply been that those relationships that have grown organically because I have worked with or for a leader for some time, or have led a particular individual and created a trusted bond with that person over time, have been much more instrumental in my own growth and personal fulfillment than those that were not entered into with a trusted connection already established.
How about you? What has your experience with mentoring leaders been – either as the mentor or mentee?
Please share in the comments and join Steve Woodruff and me, along with the brilliant #LeadershipChat Community on Tuesday evening, February 8th at 8:00 pm Eastern Time as we discuss this topic and share insights and experiences – you won’t want to miss it!
Photo is 2.16.09: ivory by Team Dalog.