Sunday, July 6, 2014

The GREAT Mentoring™ Model - Be a GREAT mentor!

One of biggest reasons people stumble upon this blog is to find tips on how to be a mentor. It's also one of the most popular questions I get asked. I've written several articles about finding and being a mentorfiguring out if you'll be a good mentor and if you are being effective in your current mentoring relationship.

As I pass the 4th anniversary of this OnMentoring blog which consists of over 100 postings and celebrate nearly 20 years actively participating in a mentoring capacity I felt I needed a succinct communication mechanism for people to remember what's important about being a mentor. So I came up with an idea and a simple model that captures those key elements of being a great, effective and empowering mentor - I call it GREAT Mentoring™

Here is the model - simply remember the word GREAT and what each of the letters stands for:
G = Great - Assume your mentee is Great from the beginning no matter what - your job is to build them up from there.
R = Relate - Be sure to relate to your mentee and be personally involved. The more you are both connected to each other the more you will both get out of the mentoring relationship.
E = Ear - Be an Ear to your mentee and actively listen. Sometimes your job as a great mentor stops there because all the mentee needed was a person to bounce ideas off of. More than likely your active listening will lead to important questions that further a person's thinking and self-awareness.
A = Authentic - Authenticity is the key to a productive mentoring relationship. Be yourself always. You will quickly gain a lot of trust by being yourself and being honest. And besides you'll feel more comfortable.
T = Trustworthy - You can't have a relationship without the basic attribute of trustworthiness. You need to create a safe space for both yourself and the mentee to discuss and share anything that will move the relationship and personal growth along.

I've written about all of these ideas before in one way or another throughout this blog. Now I'm happy to finally capture it in one place so to speak.

Over the course of the coming weeks and months I'll be expanding on each of these areas and adding resources such as templates, links to information and related material on the website.

It's been my passion to make mentoring a worthwhile and life-changing pursuit for mentors, mentees and companies alike for nearly two decades. I will continue to post to this OnMentoring blog as I have the past 4+ years and continue to cover a variety of topics, answer questions, link to interesting articles etc. When something fits or can expand on the model I will be sure to include it there as well.

As always I'm very grateful for your readership. Keep those questions coming and keep MENTORING!

Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Peter Principle Evolved

Image from:

I was reading an excellent article entitled "What Thomas L. Friedman Didn’t Report About Getting Hired by Google" by Gary Burnison, CEO at Korn/Ferry International. In this post he discusses the changed nature of the Peter Principle and the concept of something he calls "learning agility".

"The Peter Principle, which asserts that employees will continue to get promoted until they reach their highest level of incompetence, has evolved. Today employees don’t need to get promoted to become incompetent. They will become incompetent in their current jobs if they don’t grow, adapt, and evolve."

"The net-net is that most successful executives are able to move out of their comfort zone, take risks, learn from mistakes, and begin anew as they encounter new assignments. The successful leaders continually learn, bend, and flex as their work world changed. In other words, they were learning agile."
 - Gary Burnison, Chief Executive Officer at Korn/Ferry International

He found learning agility to be the #1 predictor of success. This makes a lot of sense. When we live in a world where a single tweet from an unverified source can be the catalyst of company skyrocketing on the NASDAQ or falling to be on the verge of bankruptcy adaptability will be the skill most sought after.

Gary's definition of the term "learning agility" includes self awareness and overall mental agility. Working with a mentor very often at a minimum leads to greater self awareness. A great mentor will challenge your established thoughts with targeted questions and personal stories. I've found working with my mentors that I was able to expand my problem solving approaches by learning their ways of framing a problem and arriving at a solution. I was also able to learn from their mistakes and more importantly decide whether their mistake would actually be the opposite - an answer - for me in my own situation. The ultimate achievement is to learn how to continually learn. Because I find continually learning - building a constant feedback loop - is the key to adaptability.

Learning agility is more than thinking out of the box. It's about not having a box in the first place. A mentor will help you make those boxes disappear. This is probably why a study conducted by the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD) found that 75% of executives attribute their success in part to having a mentor.

Good luck on your journey! I hope you find boxes disappearing and being replaced with green fields fertile with answers to your challenges.

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Reader Question: Mentors for the Seasoned Professional

Image from:

A reader wrote in and asked a great question: "How/where does a seasoned professional find a mentor to help him/her advance even further in their career, make a career change or simply provide ongoing advice and counsel?"

Thanks for that question! I have been thinking about an answer and wondered how much different would the approach to finding a mentor be if you were more advanced in your career rather than early on. I actually could not come up with any major differences.

I have authored two articles on finding mentors - "Tips for asking someone to be your mentor" and "Tips for finding a mentor when you're unemployed". In these articles I discuss developing a candidate mentor list. This is the first step to finding a mentor [edited below]:

Start off by making a list of folks that you already know that would make a good mentor in your opinion. Perhaps there's already someone in your life who you'd like to emulate and who has the time and inclination to do so. If you need help developing this list of mentor candidates then ask around. You should ask friends, family, current and former coworkers if they themselves have mentors or know people who do. It's all about networking!
Other suggestions to develop a candidate mentor list:
  1. Use your local industry group. Ask their leaders for ideas. Usually people who head local or national professional organizations have contacts who are willing to be mentors. They may even be interested in mentoring themselves.
  2. Your local religious group or organization may be a fruitful path. Private organizations such as these tend to cut across corporate hierarchical structure and afford you access to a wide variety of people too.
  3. If you work with vendors ask your contacts there for suggestions as they will likely know other folks in your industry (although you probably want to avoid people with whom you are in direct competition with).
The bottom line is to use your network. Networks are incredibly useful to help you find your next mentor or your next opportunity or even just some much needed advice.

As a seasoned professional myself I'm lucky to count among my informal mentors the CEO of a successful small digital media company and a world class public speaker and consultant in the digital marketing space. One was once a formal mentor and the other was a former co-worker albeit above me in the hierarchy. The key thing is to keep in touch and ensure the relationship remains meaningful to both parties.

You could also always consider going with a paid business/career coach. They've proven very effective with many a C-level professional who have retained their services.

I hope this post has been helpful. Good luck finding your mentor and keep those questions coming! If you have one click here to contact me.