Mentor the Next You
Steven Spielberg’s hit movie “E.T.” was already on the cutting room floor in post-production when the rising movie maker first met a 16-year-old aspiring producer named Jeffrey. Spielberg remembers Jeffrey as extremely raw but amazingly talented. Hoping to encourage him, Spielberg hired Jeffrey to clean old reels, rerecord old movies, and catalogue Spielberg’s library so nothing would get lost. Jeffrey, happy to have any sort of job in proximity to his idol, gladly completed every task his employer provided, soaking up a lot of Spielberg’s movie-making moxxy along the way. Over time, Spielberg came to appreciate Jeffrey’s passion for the craft of producing pictures, and agreed to help his protégé become the best producer possible. Today, Jeffrey—aka J.J. Abrams—is called the Spielberg of his generation.
Mentorship is essential. It’s essential for keeping your business in thrive mode; essential for recruiting and retaining top talent; and essential for keeping the mentors’ skills sharp and morale high. If you’re not mentoring in your environment, you’re hurting your reputation, your job satisfaction, and your company’s future.
Feed Your Protégés
The pandemic has a lot of employees evaluating their current role and environment and considering if it’s time to stay put or leap to a higher platform. What’s likely to keep your top performers in place? Better compensation? Possibly. But also, your willingness to share wisdom about your own career journey, the organization and the industry as a whole. Many leaders are looking for ways to create stronger relationships and improve engagement in their team and the business as a whole. Identify the passionate, high potential individuals in your organization, and share what you know. Mentees want to know how to navigate and/or climb within the corporate environment. They also want to know which skills and leadership qualities are essential to be successful. Be generous with your time and honest about what’s best for the professional development of these individuals.
Feed Your Organization
Be honest with yourself: successful organizations have top talent, including those with great potential. If you have discovered a diamond in the rough, you’re providing a great service to your organization by keeping the diamonds under your roof. Mentorship provides the high potential performers with a bigger platform to grow and succeed – helping not just the individuals, but your organization holistically. As a leader, you have a responsibility to keep high performers on your team even when your ego is saying, “Damn, this person is better than me!”
Feed Your Soul
If you’re reading this piece, you’re already a step closer. Yeah, you could climb a few more rungs in your organization and then maybe one more just for the hell of it, but is that really what you want? Probably not. We seek fulfillment and satisfaction and passion in our careers and mentorship is rewarding. Unless you’re a narcissist, mentorship is better for your long-term career satisfaction than a few more dollars in the commission check or a few more square feet of office space (if we go back into physical offices?!). Who knows, the Abrams to your inner-Spielberg may have just transferred into your department last week.
Be who you needed when you were earlier in your career.