Good leaders understand that they’re much more than just a boss.

In our Team Head Coach program, we discuss the Five Hats a leader in a recruitment team needs to juggle. Today, we’ll be focusing on one of these hats: The Mentor.

What does the term “mentor” mean to you?

Have you had anyone in your personal or professional life who fulfilled this role? In my own life, I’ve been fortunate to have had several key individuals offer me this type of guidance throughout my days at school, at university, and early in my career.

A mentor is someone who shows a genuine interest in your development and offers you their time and expertise, helping you nurture a talent. It’s more than barking instructions and letting you fend for yourself. Real mentoring involves continued learning and collaboration.

How does mentoring work for me?

For me, having someone invest some of their time in my success has always been appreciated.

This is how it drives me to work harder and achieve more:

  • Seeing someone sacrifice some of their time for my goals makes me respect them more.

  • I’m motivated to work even harder to prove my worth.

  • Having an external source to impress drives me to push myself further.

By investing their time in me, my mentors knew exactly which buttons to press to motivate me. That motivation enabled me to increase my output and achieve my goals.

That’s what drives me as a leader in my career today. I’ve seen what effective leadership has done for me and it’s something I wanted my team members to experience when dealing with me.

What does it mean to be a good leader?

One of the first things you learn as a leader is that there’s no one way to manage people. You’ll see, as you’re building confidence as a leader, that there are many different ways of getting to know and understanding the individuals in your team.

Not everyone will think the way you do, so getting to the bottom of what motivates the people you work with is crucial in your journey towards transformational leadership. By focusing on the individual needs of your team members, you’re able to manage each of them in a way that has the best possible impact on their specific way of working.

The result? A more engaged team with more targeted goals.

How do good leaders make a difference?

Good mentors understand that they need to build confidence in their team members. By facing challenges with your team and showing them that they possess the necessary skills and resources to overcome them, they can internalise that success and carry it forward in their work.

It’s important to remember that not everyone in your team will pass every challenge. That’s not a sign of critical failure on your end or theirs, but it is a sign that you need to have a conversation where you work together to plan a way to overcome it. These conversations are a great opportunity to develop your team’s problem-solving skills, equipping them with the means to overcome similar challenges in the future.

The power of conversation

Involving your team in the problem-solving process is key. We do this by asking questions.

Remember, your aim as a mentor isn’t to have all the answers; it’s knowing how to guide the person you’re helping to the answer themselves. By asking questions and extracting the information from your mentee, you’re giving them the power to find the answer through their own thinking. This is a hugely powerful way to build confidence and shows your team that they can overcome their challenges if they focus on analysing possible solutions.

A useful framework to base these conversations on is called the Cycle of Performance Excellence (or COPE). It structures the activity and helps you to keep it within an efficient timeframe. If you’d like to learn more about this tool, check out our previous blog on the topic.

How to facilitate a successful conversation

There are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a productive and effective problem-solving conversation.

  • Keep the conversation focused on the things your mentee can control.

  • Focus on what can be done to overcome the problem.

  • Hold each other accountable for the agreed-upon action plan.

These mentoring conversations are not the same as a performance review. You want to create an environment where it’s easy to have an honest conversation without either party feeling like they’ve said the wrong thing.

It can be tough to make the switch between boss and mentor, but it’s crucial to keep KPIs and tasks out of the equation here. Remember, your goal is to let your mentee do the work and take the lead.

I find it’s typically a good idea to host these conversations somewhere away from the work environment. Try a coffee shop or take a walk outside. You’ll be amazed at the difference an environment shift can make!

The role of mentorship in performance

Your ability to understand the people in your team enables you to have conversations that not only build their confidence but also show them that you’re invested in their development.

Loyalty and confidence are key aspects of a good team. The best leaders in the world know when to put an arm around shoulders when times are tough, and who needs a kick up the backside to drive performance.

Being able to tell the difference is what sets you and your team apart from the competition.

I’d love for you to take your journey as a leader to the next level with our specialised Team Head Coach workshops. Check out upcoming dates here and get involved in the process by following us on LinkedIn, Facebook, instagram or via email today.