Five reasons why mentoring is critical to leadership development

12 April 2019 4 min. read
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Samantha Caine, Managing Director of Business Linked Teams, reflects on why mentorship should matter to businesses when it comes to developing future leadership.

Cultivating future leadership from within is a growing trend in many businesses. It’s great for ensuring the long-term stability of the business because existing leaders won’t be around forever. Growing your own leaders from within requires mentorship – and here are five reasons why companies should do it.

More and more workers are expecting mentorship

As millennial employees and the generations that follow are beginning to represent larger portions of the workforce, studies show that they are seeking greater mentorship from their employers. The Huffington Post has reported that 79% of the millennial workforce see mentoring as critical to their workplace success. Research by Deloitte has suggested that millennial workers who intend to stay with an organisation for more than five years are twice as likely to have a mentor than not. 

Employers should recognise this as a good sign. It shows that those entering the workforce are hungry to excel in their roles and believe in staying with the business long term if they are given the opportunity to develop. 

Mentorship grows a stronger internal talent pool

For many employees, the level of mentorship will determine how long they intend to stay with the business. Further research by Deloitte has revealed that 43% of millennial workers plan on quitting their current job within two years. Let’s not let the terminology blind us from the facts – the millennial generation represents a significant portion of the workforce. Employers should begin to consider how they can satisfy the demand for increased mentorship. Not only will this stabilise workforce retention and reduce the cost of procuring external talent, it will provide a stronger talent pool for future leadership.

Mentoring is critical to leadership development

There is, in fact, stronger demand on leadership to confidently navigate businesses through disruption. Evolving technologies such as Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, changing customer demands, globalisation, and now nationalism, are all disruptive factors that pose a risk to businesses today. Mentoring will be critical to ensuring those who understand these growing challenges also understand how to lead effectively. 

Mentors can see what others can’t

BLT’s latest research on UK leadership training programmes uncovers a divide between HR and line managers when it comes to taking ownership of leadership development. A mentor will give the business greater visibility of how and where those taking part in development programmes can improve. Line managers might not get this visibility and HR certainly won’t, as they have limited face time with each person. Most importantly, the mentor can communicate this back to those undergoing development, making sure the feedback is constructive and that achievements are highlighted too. 

Mentors facilitate strong relationships across the business

Mentors are more than role models. When they recognise the areas where people need support, they can connect them with others in the organisation who are experts in the relevant subject area and can provide the support required. Relationships build from these connections and these relationships will be important to continued development over time. Strong leadership relies on strong relationships, so by the time people reach the point where they’re ready to take up the leadership mantle, many of those relationships will be in place within the organisation. 

Mentors can continue to grow through mentoring

While it’s obvious that businesses and the individuals undergoing development will benefit from mentorship, it’s easy to overlook the fact that there are many benefits for mentors, too. For someone who’s been in the organisation for a while, the opportunity to become a mentor can be energising, re-igniting the individual’s engagement in the business and creating a stronger sense of value through the impact they’re having on the business.

Mentoring others can build confidence and help individuals learn more about themselves, while increasing their own skillset. Ultimately mentoring presents an opportunity to create a legacy within the organisation which can be passed down as mentees become mentors, providing the business with a consistent supply of strong, homegrown leadership on demand.