One of the most common misconceptions about the project management role is that it is all about executing projects or “getting it done”. But Project management, in reality, is so much more than that. In fact, it is the ideal mix of people, technology, and culture.
Seasoned project managers will tell you that people always come first in the mix. They focus on honing their leadership skills and develop an ability to bring a group of diverse people to come together and work towards a common goal or purpose. Over a period of time, they are not seen just as managers anymore, but as leaders, guides and mentors.
In this blog, I will focus on aspects that make a good mentor.
Inspire to unearth the extraordinary
The mediocre teacher tells. The good teacher explains. The superior teacher demonstrates. The great teacher inspires.
A mentee sees their mentor as a transformation catalyst and it is therefore important for mentors to understand that this relationship is about patience, effort, and commitment. A mentor needs to:
- Be patient when the mentee takes time to show progress
- Put in the hours understanding the mentee’s behavioral patterns, strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations
- Commit to the mentee’s transformation journey no matter how rough the road gets.
Bill Gates has often credited his mentor Warren Buffett for his success. He believes Warren’s philosophy of bringing simplicity to professional and personal life has impacted his thought process in a significant way. That’s the power of an effective mentor. Mentors need to differentiate the mentoring process from day to day people management. One is getting work done and the other is inspiring someone’s to change their life for the better!
Less talking, more doing
The mind is not a vessel to be filled, but a fire to be kindled.
Stepping into a mentor’s role sometimes can seem like stepping on to a pedestal from where you have the luxury to keep distributing “words of wisdom”. That’s a sure-fire recipe for failure. The position of a mentor is not of power but of responsibility. Studies show that transformational change comes with taking action in the form of breaking old habits & redundant beliefs, developing new skills & personality traits and unlocking untapped potential.
A mentor and mentee need to have an agreement that they will together do whatever it takes to drive change. Mentors need to be wary of acting like motivational speakers and focus on becoming change agents.
Help people find themselves
True Mentors, don’t make their mentees a clone of themselves.
As a mentor, with mentees putting a significant part of their lives in your hands, it’s easy to get carried away. One of the most common grievances recorded in mentoring programs is that the mentors try to project themselves as the ideal role model for mentees to follow. This “one size fits all” formulaic Kool-Aid does more harm than good. The starting point of mentoring is that every person is unique and therefore their transformation journeys will be too. The mentor-mentee relationship is one free of control and full of inspiring moments. A true mentor gives everything they have and more to the mentee without expecting anything in return. A true mentor revels in the success of their mentee from a quiet spot backstage.
Best known for her talk show The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah Winfrey was mentored by celebrated author and poet, the late Maya Angelou. “She was there for me always, guiding me through some of the most important years of my life,” Winfrey said. “Mentors are important and I don’t think anybody makes it in the world without some form of mentorship,” she added (Source). From my personal experience, I can say that a good mentor can bring out the best in you and can be instrumental in shaping your future. I would close by saying that whether you are an eager mentee or an aspiring mentor, seek and you shall find!