The Importance of Mentorship

by Kristi Daeda

“I have had my 15 minutes of fame and enjoyed my time in the spotlight and walking at the head of the parade. I believe that to whom much is given, much is expected. I want to give back. I enjoy watching younger people learn and develop. By helping others, I may in a small way be able to influence the next generation.”

         – Jack Pycik, former CEO, in interview with FBCG Principal Steve McClure

In our work with families on succession planning, much time and effort is spent in considering how the next generation will be prepared to step into leadership roles in both the family and the business. One important piece of the puzzle for these emerging family leaders is mentorship.

Mentorship relationships take many shapes and sizes. Some are very formal, with agendas, regular meetings and development goals. Others are more fluid, with meetings as needed or when the mentee requests them. Some of these relationships include guidance and feedback on wide-ranging topics from career goals, to leadership, to professionalism, to family dynamics. Others are very focused, such as a CFO helping a young manager improve their understanding of company financial performance.

Mentoring Benefits All Involved

Regardless of the structure or content, both mentors and mentees can benefit greatly from a mentoring relationship. Some benefits of a mentoring relationship include:

For the Mentee:

  • Experience at building professional relationships, especially with senior staff/company leaders.
  • Support and feedback.
  • Regular focus on professional goal setting and long-term career thinking.
  • Sounding board on how to handle complex work issues and interpersonal challenges.
  • Direct access to advanced knowledge about the business and industry.

For the Mentor:

  • Personal enjoyment of helping another professional succeed.
  • Reaffirmation of professional knowledge and experience.
  • Increased perspective on other areas of the business, trends and challenges.
  • Recognition from superiors as an organizational leader and contributor to overall success.

Mentoring Can Greatly Accelerate Professional Development

The best business lessons often don’t come from textbooks, and our best wisdom often comes from someone who has learned the hard way.

When done well, a positive mentoring relationship can lead to much quicker advancement – not just in job title, but in key success areas like communication, leadership, collaboration, and business thinking. The experience of learning from a mentor’s successes, failures and hard-won perspective, with the opportunity to ask questions and work together to apply these lessons to one’s own day to day work, can create great leaps in learning.

A mentor can also be an advocate (“sponsor”) within the company, helping the mentee identify opportunities for growth and smoothing their path to advancement.

Mentors can be Impartial Advisors

Lastly, and perhaps one of the greatest advantages of mentorship within family businesses, is that a mentor is often viewed as impartial in a way that Mom and Dad are not.

When Mark hears that he needs to step up his communication skills from his father, that message comes with the baggage of the family dynamic, no matter how healthy it may be. The same message delivered by an independent third party can be received very differently. The mentor’s perceived disinterest allows them a unique position as trusted advisor, a plus for both the organization and the mentee.

It’s clear that mentorship is a powerful tool that carries a wide range of benefits for all involved. How might your family embrace mentorship?

 

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