Although it’s only mid- January, all of us are navigating dramatic changes in the business environment that will substantially change the game of business in the year ahead.
For example, how will the rising stock market impact your company’s business strategy? What could it mean for your customers when technology trends such as AI and IoT are changing the very nature of the types goods and services that you and your competitors bring to market? Given the tight labor market in some areas of the US, what will you need to do differently or better as a company to attract and retain talent? It all boils down to the decisions and actions you take as a leader.
Under these circumstances, we’ve seen that the most successful leaders are the ones who are constantly developing themselves and their outlook on business. One of the ways to do this is to take a more expansive approach to finding the right mentors.
Many people think about mentoring as a personal relationship between a more experienced individual guiding a less experienced individual for a period of time. In fact, there are a number of other ways of thinking about mentoring that go far beyond traditional definitions.
To find more of the right mentors to serve your needs, start with outcomes in mind:
1) Detecting emerging trends outside your industry: Some of the most powerful mentors we’ve had over the years have been in the form of books, news features, social media, podcasts, and radio and television programs. To avoid being overwhelmed, it’s critical to approach these sources with a clear idea of what you need to know and why it’s important for you to read or listen by a certain date.
2) Feedback on a specific challenge or opportunity: There’s nothing like conversations within our own organizations and networks or participating in industry conferences, forums, and executive peer groups for sharing ideas, asking questions, and listening to others’ views and experiences. For best results, be mindful of the experience and perspective of those whose feedback you seek out and accept. It’s also important to adapt others’ ideas to your own unique circumstances.
3) Executive development and guidance: When you need a highly customized focus on specific high-stakes leadership issues, professionals who specialize in mentoring (including advisory and coaching) are the best resource. Since the purpose and outcomes of these roles are distinct and unique, be sure that you and your professional mentor are clear about mutual expectations from the relationship.
The more strategic you are in combining various types of mentoring to achieve all three outcomes, the greater the impact. Keep in mind that mentors are all around you. Taking a strategic approach to your leadership and development will help you find the best ones to guide you in the New Year.