Mentoring up: leadership from below

Thought Leadership on Corporate Culture presented by IntegrityONE Partners, Inc.

Many companies offer mentoring programs of varying types, and they very well should. To be sure, there are numerous benefits to mentoring for both the mentees and mentors in a traditional scenario. Many people are already aware of the benefits and have participated in these relationships as either a mentor, mentee, or both if they are more experienced, and there are certainly abundant resources for parties interested in researching them.

But have you given any thought to taking a mentor that is junior to you at your company? You might think that you’ve worked your way through those positions and have gleaned all possible information from them that you can use. But, I think there is far more to be learned and that CEOs are in the perfect position to once again benefit from the viewpoint and experiences a junior firm member can share.

Why? For these reasons and more:

  • Much can be learned from those younger in years that will help you adjust your words and actions.
  • There is sage advice laying in the minds of experienced individuals that are in less senior positions.
  • People learn as much from teaching as from being taught.

Do you remember what it was like when you were new to business? Every time you came into the office you were learning something new. The terminology alone can take time to learn and digest! On top of that, we all learned how to act, what to say (and not say,) and what was most important.

Now that we are older, or even if we just have a lot more responsibility, our opinions and thoughts have been honed. We can sometimes feel that we have assimilated all the important views and are capable of “seeing the entire field.” But, think for just a moment about how times have changed since we were in the seats of our younger employees. For better or worse, the economy is different, the work/life balance trends have changed, and opinions regarding business and their role in society are surely seen differently from when we were younger… and we haven’t even talked about the political climate!

Your young employees represent fresh ideas, thoughts and viewpoints that you should consider. They can help us see the world, our companies and even ourselves in new ways that will assist us in putting our best foot forward when talking with others. Talk with them and gain their perspective; it will surprise you and open your eyes.

Next, do you have people within your firm that are on their second career? Maybe they have spent time in other fields and are trying something new, they have raised children and are returning to the workforce, or perhaps you have veterans that have served in the military working at your company. Whatever the case, the experiences these individuals have had in their lives can be radically different from ours.

Seasoned employees can share with you their experiences from other companies, industries, and life’s rolling roads that contain knowledge and wisdom to which you may not have been exposed. Gather that wealth of information and add it to your own dataset. You will not be disappointed that you took the time to do so.

Now, here is a question for you: how much do you learn when you are mentoring someone? In most cases I’m sure you would agree that you learn a lot. In fact, Google the phrase “learning by teaching” and read for just a few minutes about the benefits of teaching to the teacher.

Lastly, think about someone in your firm that you believe has all the potential to become a rock star. If you learn a lot from mentoring, that person can surely learn in leaps and bounds if they are mentoring you.

In any of these scenarios, you have an opportunity to help someone advance their career through teaching. You can gain their perspective to help you craft a better message or communicate even more clearly with your entire staff. You can learn and remember what it was like as you made your way to your current seat.


Michael Waddell_IntegrityOne Click here for more Thought Leadership on Corporate Culture from IntegrityONE Partners, Inc.