While discussing success in professional life, we always mention hard work and good decision-making, but finding a good mentor is equally important. Today, on the day of National Mentoring Day, let me share my journey of mentoring and how it has helped me to deal with my team and my life in a better way.
I am relatively new to this journey and was initially a bit apprehensive about my ability to mentor. Today, I am amazed to find out that my mentoring practices help not only my team but also myself in every way possible.
The story of this journey won’t be started if I won’t have met my mentor Mr. Ajay Binani. An entrepreneur, a business strategist, and a digital marketing expert, his expertise may lead to many such descriptions, but first and foremost, he is a mentor who encourages his team to identify their strengths and help them excel in that. He is a person who likes to lead by action rather than words. For the last eight years, he has guided us to become a better version of ourselves.
Lessons Learned from My Mentor
It will be difficult to mention all the points I have learned from my mentor in the past years. So, the following are the most important four takeaways that I have gained from his teaching and preaching.
Empathy is an essential condition for a leader or a mentor. A leading person without empathy is like a train without fuel. Empathy connects us to our team and helps us understand their position and perspective. In a team, every person comes from a different background and faces different professional and personal challenges. In many cases, the challenges faced by the team are unrecognized or unfelt by the mentor till then, but while making the decision, the mentor needs to give priority and respect to the others’ struggles and choices like her/his own. The empathy of the mentor is the first step in creating a trustworthy bond between her/him and the rest of the team.
My mentor always prioritizes the role of gratitude in our actions. Be it to our teammates who devoted time to work by cutting their personal time, books with super content, or a seminar that gives a new idea to us; nothing should be taken for granted. Being grateful and showing gratitude makes us stronger as well as more humble as a person. It reminds us of the people and things that contribute to our growth and play a part in making us the people we are today. Showing gratitude to a team also makes the leader more acceptable to the team, making mentoring a more interactive process than a one-way process of communication.
Be Direct for Good and Bad
Direct communication is the best way of communication, be it for a good or a critical feedback. On second thought, direct communication is more important when the message is more critical. We tend to sugar-coat the words while giving feedback; in some cases, this coating dilutes the significanve of the message. It is okay to tell the naked truth in its raw version. A direct and clear message works much better in the long run. It reduces confusion and makes the picture clearer for every party involved.
Surely, the critical message should be delivered directly with respect and decent language so that the primary focus would be only on message than the approach. The intention is the most powerful factor here. I have learned from my mentor that if one’s intention is good (like when one wants to infuse new skills into her/her team), then mentioning the right thing to the right person in the right way is the necessary step of mentoring.
Focus on Constant Growth
Constant growth is an essential part of a glowing professional life. Even when someone is excelling in her/his current career, the need for growth in hard skills and soft skills would still be very relevant. My mentor always focuses on constant growth and constant learning. As per him, these two are the most important things for a professional and a must thing for a leader. Leaders cannot stop learning and should always be on the growth mentality for themselves as well as for the team. My mentor always encourages the rest of the team and me to leave our comfort space and accept the challenges of a bigger game.
My Mentorship Journey
As mentioned before, I am relatively new to this path and still learning many things to be a better mentor. One of the most notable things I have learned as a mentor is prioritizing the team over myself. Listening to the needs of the team members and balancing their personal needs with the needs of the organization is one of the most challenging yet exciting parts of my responsibilities. The mentoring becomes more effective when it consists an interactive communication rather than a one-way monologue.
Lessons Learned as a Mentor
My learning on mentoring is not limited only to the lessons learned from my mentor, as I also learned a lot while managing my team. Each day comes with a new problem and hence new learning. Following are some points that made me more aware as a mentor and as a person.
Trust your team undoubtedly
Trusting my team undoubtedly and unconditionally is the fundamental part of my mentoring. Trust builds trust, and the first step of this should come from the mentor.
Always expect the unexpected
Expecting the unexpected is the most notable thing that I have learned as a mentor. Doing the planning is important, but improvising the plan as per the situation is even more important.
Being aware of different goals
A team always consists of different people with different purposes and different priorities. Honoring each of their priorities while reaching out for the common goal is one of the biggest responsibilities of the mentor. Listening to my mentees and showing respect to their choices makes us connected as a team. I am still learning to adapt and excel in the balancing act where the interest of a teammate and the interest of the team will align together.
Practice before you preach
I have learned from my mentor that action works better than words, and I try to follow the same with my team. I always make sure that my action should reflect my words. I believe whatever I want from my team; I must do the same as well. For instance, if I want them to focus more on their work, I need to do this first. This way, I have become a better version of myself in a year.
Like every relationship in the world, mentoring is a symbiotic relationship. The more you give, the more you get; the first step of giving should come from the mentor. In my experience, the journey of mentoring is thrilling and fulfilling at the same time.