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David Wither

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A Mentorship Framework to Make You a Better Leader


Regardless of your industry, mentoring is a unique relationship facilitating the transfer of knowledge and skills between two people, grounded in a commitment to common goals and based in mutual trust and respect. Both the mentor and the mentee have the opportunity to learn and grow from this relationship, which the recipient gaining valuable knowledge and insight and the mentor revisiting key industry skillsets while developing greater communication and leadership skills.

The benefits of a quality mentorship are almost endless; mentees gain professional focus and have the opportunity to learn not just from the mentor’s expertise, but also from their past mistakes and missteps. For most, mentorships are a chance to develop their competencies, enlarge their networks, explore their potential, and potentially obtain higher level positions in their careers. For the mentor, these rewarding relationships can renew enthusiasm for their industry, develop coaching skills, and increase generational or lower level organizational awareness.

If you’re ready to diversify your skillset and learn to better serve others in your network, start implementing these quick-and-easy mentorship frameworks to become a better leader starting today.

The GROW Model. The GROW model can help mentors work with mentees on goal-setting and motivation, and it helps to think of it as if you’re helping someone to plan a trip. First, you would sit down together to decide where you’re going (the goal), then talk about where you currently are (reality) in terms of being able to make the trip happen. You would talk about all your options and obstacles in planning the trip, like finding the funds, comparing flight and hotel costs, taking time off work, and so on. The final step requires commitment to making the trip happen and setting concrete steps to make the way forward and start making the trip a reality. In this model, it’s important for mentees to draw their own conclusions; mentors are facilitating and guiding the thought process, not necessarily advising or offering expertise.

(G)oal. Help the mentee examine their goals and determine what they want to achieve, then help them articulate their goals in a “SMART” way—goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound. For example, if your mentee wants to launch their own business, you’ll want to help them detail that broad goal by prompting them for more details. What will they sell? How will they start marketing? How will they measure their success? When would be a good time to assess your growth?

This prompting can transform a broad, difficult to quantify goal like “I want to start a business” into a legitimate, tangible goal. For example, “Within a month (time-based), I am going to get set up to sell handmade cards on Etsy (specific) so I can benefit from my favorite hobby (relevant). Within six weeks, I will have an inventory of 30 handmade cards (measurable and attainable) and aim to sell a minimum of five cards per week (measurable and attainable), building customer relationships through word of mouth, referrals, and local networking (specific).

(R)eality. It’s vital to spend some time discussing the current reality with your mentee, since failing to consider your starting point could result in missing out on information necessary to reach the desired goals. This first step toward accomplishing goals will help you and your mentee generate the options and obstacles you’ll need to analyze in order to start transforming the current reality into the goal.

Be sure you ask your mentee questions they may not have fully considered, like whether or not they have already taken any steps toward their goals or whether their goals conflict with any other objectives or responsibilities.

(O)ptions & (O)bstacles. This is the part of the process where the brainstorming really starts firing, because this is when you’re going to help your mentee determine what is possible, examining all the possible options and any potential obstacles in reaching the established goal. Since you’ve already examined the current reality of the situation, you should have a firm grasp on what it will take to make the new reality happen.

During this phase of the mentorship process, it’s really important to focus on guiding your mentee, not dictating their decisions to them. You want your mentee to do more of the talking and you to do more of the listening, but you should help your mentee see the full range of possibilities presented. Ask questions like, “If this obstacle were removed, how would that change things?” “What do you need to stop doing to make this goal a reality?” and “What are the advantages and disadvantages of each brainstormed approach to this goal?”

Way Forward. Now that you’ve explored the current reality and brought to light as many potential options and obstacles as you could think of together, you and your mentee should have a pretty solid understanding of how to approach this goal. For some people, just sorting out the details is enough to motivate them to make it happen, but many are going to need more than that. Work with your mentee to develop attainable, actionable steps to start progressing toward their goal.

This final step is perhaps the most critical of the mentorship relationship, since you have signed on to help motivate, encourage, and support your mentee as they work toward accomplishing their goals. Helping them stay on track is a huge part of that equation, and it’s an ongoing process you’ll have to continue to engage with over the course of your relationship. Be sure to schedule dates and times to monitor and discuss progress toward goals and revisit previous steps as necessary to refocus.


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