Mentoring in the New Era of High Potentials
By Dellroy Birch, Ph.D.
Mentoring Has Many Forms
Throughout my career, I’ve always asked the question, “How can I get to where I want to go?” This has become a circular question because early in my career I did not know where the target was, but I did know that I was not where I wanted to be.
I started my career in an industry and a role that was primed for apprenticeship and mastering unique crafts and skills. It was natural for an Aircraft Mechanic at the airlines to be under the tutelage of a more experienced mechanic learning the trade and craftsmanship over time. It was a fun time, but there was always something missing.
I honed in my craft, but the self-development and awareness that should have come with time were missing. Across my next series of roles (Analyst, Manager, Director) the very nature of my roles included being coached, mentored, and guided in an informal manner by informal mentors and sponsors.
Being A Mentee Is Fun
12 years ago, my career was evolving and on a very successful path. I was asked to participate in a mentoring program for high potential diverse leaders. I’ve been part of mentoring programs before, but when introduced to Menttium, it was the first successful mentoring program that was designed and catered to address the specifics of growth and development with a purposeful and active engagement model.
I soon realized there was a large community of professionals “like me” that were thirsty for the same development. The irony was, we were all leaders in our profession but we were desiring development by people who knew what we needed. Menttium was the answer to that. Over the course of 12 months, I had a fun experience developing new skills through a group learning setting comprised of a diverse pool of individuals from a wide spectrum of industries, as well as through individualized one-on-one mentor-mentee opportunities.
My mentor was an executive at a Fortune 500 company, and peer mentees brought valuable insights from their vast experiences at their companies across multiple industries. This wealth of knowledge and diverse perspectives opened my eyes to a world of learning in a collaborative manner, and definitely met my mentoring goals for the program.
Mentors Learn Too
After I completed my program with Menttium, I was asked to become a mentor myself. My positive experience with the mentoring program as a mentee made my decision easy. I jumped “all in” with the perspective of wanting to have my mentee experience what I experienced. I wanted to share as much as possible. Little did I know that I would gain as much out of the relationship as the mentee.
After my first engagement mentoring, I found a niche that perfectly intersected my desire to coach and mentor within the very same cross-company mentoring program that I gained my experience from. The fun began. Year after year, I was paired with a different mentee with a their own unique background, corporate history, and goals. But the one trait that held true through each mentee was their desire for growth and development. Then it hit me! By mentoring in a cross-company mentoring program, I was gaining and accelerating my job experience across multiple industries, sectors, and functions. A feat that can only be attained by years and time investment across multiple companies and multiple functions.
I was actually honing my leadership skills, and more importantly, I was given an opportunity to try out various forms for situational leadership. I was leading, learning, and having fun. All thanks to my being a mentor.
Cross Company Mentoring Enhances Competencies
During each of my mentoring engagements, I saw a tremendous transformation in my mentees. They all came to the relationship accomplished, with experience, and a desire to pursue greater things in their careers. However, they all came to the relationship seeking something more.
Menttium’s approach to imparting that “something more” comes through pairing a mentee with a mentor that can help address their specific needs. This approach has been extremely purposeful, successful, and almost magical.
The formal mentoring program not only helps address immediate needs such as job experience or technical/functional understanding, but it also addresses core competencies that are at the heart of performance reviews and professional development. Menttium’s cross-company mentoring enhances competencies through the Business Education Workshops (BEWs), select seminars, and targeted mentoring exercises.
Mentoring Through the Years
Throughout my tenure mentoring with Menttium, I have seen my mentees enhance their abilities and awareness when it comes to the below-stated strengths. Conversely, but positively, my development in these competencies have been enhanced as well.
- Thought Leadership
- Framework Development
- Critical Thinking
- Overall Business Acumen Beyond Their Role
- Executive Presence
- Executive Communication for the C-Suite
- Writing and Packaging “the Story”
- Change Management
- Navigating the Cultural and Political Environment of the Average Workplace
- “Getting to Yes” Even When “No” Is Stated
- Emotional Intelligence
- Teams Dynamics
- Influencing and Leading Without Authority
- Leading in Ambiguity
- Managing up and Influencing Executives
- Personal and Professional Branding
Being a Menttium mentee has been fun and rewarding. However, being a Menttium mentor has been one of the most infectious learning experiences I’ve had. I am looking forward to experiencing more successful mentoring engagements in the years to come.