For a long time now, organizations have emphasized on the importance of mentorship programs to help their employees build rewarding careers and create more value for business. Most successful leaders have been lucky to benefit in their career from involved and experienced mentors. But have you ever thought how a mentor benefits from this relationship? How does taking on the responsibility to guide a colleague or team helps them enhance their own professional skills?
If you have been chosen to become a mentor, then it’s time to rejoice. You can now push your career to greater heights by using this incredibly powerful professional growth tool.
Nalini Pius, vice-president of Fidelity Investments, credits mentoring as being the first step in her path to leadership. Ten years ago, she was asked to participate in a mentoring program for five employees from different teams. She recollects having a lot of questions on her mind such as "will this new role eat into my work commitments or will I be able to make an impact on my mentee’s career."
Today, Nalini has led several successful mentoring programs within her company and created success for herself in every step of the way.
The moment you are chosen as a mentor, you’re in the limelight. If done well, you can greatly hone your leadership skills as well as fast track your career.
"Mentoring is an influential and positive pay-it-forward program. It creates a synergy and makes the relationship rewarding for both mentor and mentee. One of the recurring affirmations of being a mentor is that it assured my capabilities of being a leader. I’m proud of how my mentees have transformed into avid risk-takers, taken on greater responsibilities and often credited our mentoring program for their success," said Nalini.
Mentoring is a great way to hone your leadership skills. It is a strategic tool that provides high-visibility within any organization. This is because mentoring involves interacting with a diverse set of people. It requires mentors to penetrate the barriers, understand the mentee’s struggles and then decide on a common attainable goal. Effective communication, efficient planning and periodic checkpoints are laid out and followed through. "This will become the bedrock of your career as you move into leadership roles,'' affirms Nalini.
Combating unconscious bias
Women mentors get the opportunity to break the glass ceiling at the workplace and showcase themselves as potential leaders. Most women at work are construed to be emotionally inclined, while making decisions, owing to the unconscious biases about women that may still exist. Being a mentor helps you turn this thought process around.
A mentor should clearly delineate the personal and professional fronts. It helps build empathy instead of sympathy. “I’ve learnt to keep some of the personal baggage out of our professional conversation. To motivate your mentee, you need to propel them forward. Having too much insight into their personal lives might become a hindrance to this. Later, I applied the same rules to my teams as well. It has been extremely rewarding for my team as well as for me,” shared Nalini.
Enhanced emotional health
One of the least talked about benefits of mentoring is the positive impact on the mentor’s emotional health. A recent Harvard Business Review report quotes the perks of being a mentor in their own work-life.
"Once I was a mentor to the only woman in a team of seven. We spoke about our work-life balance and strategies to maximize this equilibrium. We discussed how our ambitions were often in a collision path with family priorities and how sometimes we had minimal or maximum support from others. We collaborated on time management strategies and even exchanged efficient mechanisms to devise meal plans to monthly scrum meetings. Sometimes, I was curating the session, sometimes I was just listening," said Nalini.
"It was immensely therapeutic. Listening to another woman and discussing the same issues that plague my own life was such a relief. Mentoring can unite people in a friendly, stigma-free environment and selflessly nurture all our careers. This is one of those rare occasions where everybody is a winner and there is always a reward," professed Nalini.
As Hall of Fame college basketball coach John Wooden once said, "Mentoring becomes your true legacy. It is the greatest inheritance you can give to others. It is why you get up every day."