Making the case for mentoring

You probably know that a mentor, a seasoned fellow professional, can help you be more successful, whether you are a new or an experienced leader. You are probably also aware that a mentor will provide you with valuable, confidential, feedback, make suggestions, and, through discussion, help you arrive at your own insights that will lead to your greater success.

While you understand all of the above, the challenge is often how to convince school leadership to make the investment and allow you the time to be mentored.

Of course, a successful mentoring relationship greatly benefits the organization. The more confident and successful the leader, the better for the organization, and if mentoring helps the leader, the organization inevitably gains. Boards want to provide meaningful support to their heads, and facilitating mentoring is a powerful way of supporting the organization’s most important employee.

But if you need more ammunition, here are eight benefits of mentoring that should help you make the case.

  1. Another perspective on the issues and problems you must deal with. Two heads are better than one, and that dynamic of a discussion with a mentor may well uncover possibilities that neither of you would have thought of alone. Discussions with a mentor help you discover opportunities and recognize challenges in the situations confronting you.
  2. A sounding board. A mentor enables you to test your ideas and discuss your points of view in a safe and confidential environment. You don’t have to be afraid of being considered “out of one’s depth” or present yourself as more confident or competent than you may feel.
  3. Feeling less isolated. Most school leaders feel lonely and isolated in their roles. Mentoring helps reduce those feelings. Working with a mentor creates a sense of collegiality that might not be available to you within your organization because you are the “boss.” In addition, mentoring is completely non-judgemental. Its purpose is to only to help you and carries no risk of negative consequences.
  4. Developing your talents. A mentor will spot your unique talents and make suggestions about how you can further develop and make the most of your talents and gifts. Moreover, you gain an experienced partner to guide you in dealing with the many issues and crises that you may not yet have encountered.
  5. Focusing your attention on the important, not only the urgent. A huge leadership challenge is to avoid being so consumed by urgent problems that one makes no time to work on the big strategic goals that help the organization move forward. A mentor helps you keep focused also on big picture.
  6. Modelling your interest in ongoing professional learning. When it is known that the leader invests time in working with a mentor, this shows that ongoing learning is genuinely valued, and offers a strong and motivating example to staff.
  7. Accountability. Telling your mentor that you are going to achieve something means you have someone to hold you accountable to that goal. You are more likely to take action and therefore see results more quickly.
  8. Learning how to be a good mentor. Working with a good mentor serves as a training ground to enable you to develop good mentoring behaviours and become a good mentor for others in your school.

And in case you need either further convincing of the value of mentoring or additional arguments in its favour, consider these pithy quotes:

Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction.
John C. Crosby

One of the greatest values of mentors is the ability to see ahead what others cannot see and to help them navigate a course to their destination.”
John C. Maxwell

What are your thoughts?
Let me know what you consider to be the greatest benefits of mentoring? How has mentoring made a difference to your career?

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