One of the most important parts of my life is building the next generation of leaders. I find that I have an affinity for mentoring others, and really enjoy it. I also think that it is very important to teach others to fight for themselves, so that they can lead. I do this in my professional life at work by mentoring colleagues and the people who work for me. I do this at home with my own children. I also am very engaged in building the next generation of leaders through Girl Scouts. I find that no matter where I am, and who I am working with, there are a few things I find myself doing over and over again.
1] Give support, but do not do the task for the person learning.
To me, it’s important to know that I have someone who can answer questions, but is willing to let me try. Therefore when I am mentoring people, I let them know that I’m available to answer questions, but I am not going to do everything for them. If they find themselves floundering, I will step in to help. Otherwise, I will let them explore the problem a bit before intervening.
Help people identify their goals, and what steps are necessary to get there. Having a goal in mind is key to knowing where to go and what to do. This gets back to the 7 habits of highly effective people – Begin with the End in Mind. I find that many people need help setting those goals, and can be helped just by asking a lot of questions about what they themselves want. They usually come up with the answer on their own, and set up a plan, once coached.
3] Create a Supportive Environment Where Calculated Risks are Encouraged.
I personally find it hard to step out and try something new, to challenge long-held beliefs, or the status-quo. I try to give those whom I am mentoring a chance to spread their wings, and realize that they can reach great heights with a bit of calculated risk-taking. I encourage people to think and try new things. Many times they are very successful, and amazed at what they can do.