Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Spellbinder Mentoring Guidelines

Mentoring is one of the most important activities one can engage in to help your career development. Here are some thoughts on the subject.

Developed originally fo corporate settings.
Formatted for Lexington Spellbinders
© Paschal Baute, 1998, 2011

Mentoring, narrowly defined, pertains specifically to coaching and development to help advance and promote a person's career.

1. Listen well. Help the other to develop their own plan. Understand natural learning styles, your own and that of the other. We differ systematically. Free resources are available for this. Ask Dr. Baute about his free DISC profiles. Perhaps the most difficult aspect of mentoring is teaching others to follow their own leads, not to follow yours. What leaders learn through wise mentoring is to control themselves. In the words of Jim Whittaker, the first American to climb Mt. Everest, "You never conquer the mountain. You only conquer yourself." Once that conquest has been achieved, wise mentoring becomes almost inevitable.

2. Be a Role Model. Serving as a role model teaches volumes beyond the actual words of guidance spoken by the mentor. The mentor's ways of handling situations through subtleties of voice, gesture, eye contact, listening techniques, timing, and dozens of other matters are all observed by the learner, sometimes in unconscious ways. This being said, leaders must not present themselves as perfect models. It is helpful to remember that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times on his way to hitting 714 home runs, and R. H. Macy's spectacular retailing success in New York City was preceded by his seven business failures.

3. Become a resource through valuable reading, consultation, and development opportunities. For example, you may have attended a career-shaping seminar or read one or several deeply influential books, experienced a wise mentor along the way, or learned a particularly hard lesson. Because these resources have proven their value for the mentor, they can be offered to the person being mentored.

4. Interpret the person's experiences as “lessons.” Part of the comedy of life is that we often learn best by failing at something. “I learned far more from my losses than I ever learned from my wins,” said one former competitor who won championships in five sports. “Each loss was a teacher.”

5. Provide environments, when possible, for experimentation with new learning. The following statement is attributed to Confucius: "I hear and I forget; I see and I remember; I do and I understand." Mentors have not successfully concluded their workuntil the learner has had several opportunities to apply the new learning and make sense out of the experience and apply its lessons to more challenging work.

6. Be encouraging of each small gain, but also Be willing to confront Those in mentoring relationships need to depend upon accurate and honest feedback from each other. If we discuss a development plan, we need a time line, and some of us may need a mentor to “hold our feet” to the time line, and not let us “hedge our bets.” in important developmental goals. Read and use Paschal’s Win Win Finesse, the Art of Dealing Positively with Negative Feelings.

7. Confidentiality must be discussed and respected. There should be an explicit understanding that trust and respect and confidentiality will be mutually honored. Mostly one will need to find one’s own mentor. By the way, it may take weeks or months for you to find the right person for you. Respected colleagues at work, a trusted friend, an actual supervisor with whom one has a friendly and helping relationship might be candidates.

8. Remember that the mentoring relationship needs nourishing and to be kept strong. It should not exist only for crises, impasses or messes. It helps to have a regular meeting, a set time, say once a month, maybe lunch. Mentoring will be more effective when it is not simply “as needed” which may end up being every 2 or 3 or 4 months. Unless one is already working closely with the other, there may be too much “catch up” with changing circumstances for mentoring to be truly effective. Making the opportunity to share regularly will deepen the friendship and encourage more openness and sharing.

SUMMARY: The essential work of the mentor is to guide others to discover the unique talents and gifts within themselves and to help them follow their own internal leadings, as they re-awaken to the inner truth of who they are and what they choose.. The mentor supports the dreams and goals of the person, but offers the practical wisdom of their own journey and the lessons of life they have learned. “Thinking big” is encouraged as the mentor reminds others of what is possible in any area of interest. In fact, mentoring, both sides: the mentor and the apprentice, is a powerful matrix where some essential leadership skills needed today are developed.

The Spellbinder Apprentice should complete the Apprentice Practice Plan. Research shows that written objectives with time lines and told to another, are 50% more likely to be accomplished. Use form provided..

See “Enrichment” section in new Spellbinder Training Manual, 2011, pp. 51.-59