Divergent CIO

An innovative, transformative, and digital leader experienced in Technology and Executive Leadership

Investing in The Next Generation of Leaders: The Importance of Mentorship

 

Investing in Mentorship

Not everyone can -- or should -- jump into their career headlong without a plan of where they're going. This is particularly true in today's competitive workplace climate. Mentorships can bridge that gap between emerging into a new career and becoming a successful leader in that field. In fact, research shows that quality mentoring relationships have powerful positive effects within personal, academic, and professional situations, ultimately connecting them to personal growth and development, as well as social and economic opportunities, according to the National Mentoring Partnership.

Investing in the next generation of leaders depends exponentially on the guidance of a mentor. All the book smarts straight out of college can't prepare graduates with the nitty gritty, on-your-feet-all-day, in-the-trenches work that makes up a CIO's day. As a critical thinking, people-centric, quick learning, impeccably organized and determined professional, you know yourself just how many years it took you to get where you are now. Couldn't you have used a mentor yourself? Someone to guide you, cut through the clutter, and offer insight that no college lecture hall can really provide?

The workforce is expanding in droves. More than one in three American workers today are Millennials, recently surpassing Generation X to become the largest share of the American workforce, says the Pew Research Center. Many of them are getting jobs in leadership positions, or at least poised to inherit them in the near future, leaving a real need for practical experience that can only be gleaned by forming a bond with a seasoned professional.

Defining a Mentorship

In a nutshell, a mentor is a more experienced, usually older, professional in a given field who offers younger, less experienced employees career guidance, advice and assistance from a real world point of view. Taking part in a mentorship not only enhances your professional capabilities, you get access to a wealth of knowledge and experience, and -- if you're lucky -- end up with a lifelong friend and potential future business partner, points out Forbes.

It doesn't have to be the standard model either. A mentorship could involve a younger person guiding an older person who decided to make a career change late in life. Whatever the mentor-mentee relationship looks like, at its heart, it's based on one person who's “been there, done that” showing a fresh-faced up-and-comer what the real deal is.

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What is True Leadership?

 

Integrity...credibility...respect...these are just a few qualities of a true leader. Anyone can be in a position of leadership, whether at work, school or peer group, but this isn't just a title, lip service or a delegation. It has to come from within. True leaders know who they are and what they stand for; they know their values and the rules they will abide by; and they know and communicate their values openly with those they lead, creating an atmosphere of certainty and trust, says Forbes.

True Leader

A true leader also:

  • Lives the values they profess to believe
  • Leads by example
  • Works side by side those they lead in order to get to know and care about them
  • Inspires their team
  • Listens without being condescending
  • Is willing to hear what others have to say without judgment
  • Is patient and genuine in their thoughts
  • Communicates openly and often
  • Disciplines with a desire to help others improve rather than from a place of anger
  • Gives feedback in a respectful way
  • Doesn't use sarcasm to communicate; this makes others feel uncertain or belittled

True leaders never back down from a challenge. Yes, everyone has to pick their battles, but when their instincts tell them something is or isn't right, they’ll defend their position succinctly and thoroughly. True leaders also have empathy. That's because they're genuine and sincere, allowing them to understand innately what another is going through because they've been there themselves. This stems from being true to oneself. Not everyone has empathy just like not everyone has respect. It has to be earned.

Thought Leaders

People also ask me, "What is a thought leader?"  A thought leader is an informed opinion leader who is the top resource in their field of expertise. They are trusted leaders who inspire people with innovative and unique ideas; but they don't just talk about it -- they turn those ideas into reality. It's actually a big part of content marketing where you can convey your talent, experience and passion about what you do. Answering questions your readers need to know doesn't stem from a fancy degree. It relies on a differentiated point of view that rests with being an authority in your industry. 

Thought leaders don't just talk the talk -- they actually inspire change in meaningful ways and encourage others to join their efforts through evolutionary advancements in their fields. Yes, they encourage others to be open to new ways of thinking, but they also create the map by which people can achieve it. This set of best practices creates a foundation for others to build on.

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