It’s probably one of those things that falls into the “Important but not Urgent” quadrant, and that’s why so few leaders really get serious about addressing it until it’s in the “Important and Urgent” quadrant. By then, it’s almost too late. I’m talking about the issue of establishing a formal mentoring program. Formally. I’m talking about a bona fide initiative that involves the highest level of leaders in the organization. I’m talking about one where there’s critical thinking (not just criticism) and buy-in that translates into commitment and effort—not just cheer-leading and “check the box” assent.
At SGR we often say that a strategic leader has two responsibilities in addition to the other responsibilities that all other leaders have. The first is to instill the culture he/she wants into the rest of the organization. Ron Holifield, our CEO, says, “You build leaders from the ground up, but you instill culture from the top down.” The second responsibility of a strategic leader is to cast the vision for the future of the organization. Strategic leaders do not just focus on the task at hand, they keep the organization focused on the horizon and moving toward its destiny. Strategic Leadership is about the future.
Interestingly, mentoring has to do with both culture and future. Developing a mentoring culture, which is not nearly as likely without a formal mentoring program, directly impacts the future. Frankly, it’s hard for me to see how a strategic leader could be satisfied NOT to have a formal mentoring program in the organization because to neglect it is to ignore the inevitable retirements of key and influential leaders.
What could implementing and sustaining a first-rate mentoring program mean for your city or your organization? You could probably add to this list, but consider these benefits. A mentoring program helps with:
- Succession Planning
- Recruiting and Retention
- Social Equity and Diversity
- Bridging Technology Gaps
- Understanding Trends and Customers of all generations by all generations
It isn’t the only responsibility you have as a key leader, but there’s no doubt that it’s an important responsibility, so if it wasn’t already, let it be one of the things you determine to get done this year—before this year gets away from you, just like the last one did!