Why Former Mentees Make Better Leaders

Leadership Development
Published on
June 24, 2021

It’s impossible to know for certain whether great leaders are endowed with their potential at birth or whether those qualities rise to the surface after years of accumulated experience. But one thing is for sure - the latter is an essential component of the progression from mentee to leader. Receiving guidance from an experienced mentor offers a host of benefits to up-and-coming professionals, including an intimate understanding of the skills, qualities, and knowledge required to apply effective oversight. 

Waiting for the right leader to stumble across your job posting is a time-consuming, resource-intensive process. By seeking out employees who have gone through the mentorship experience before - or better yet, developing a workplace mentorship program for your own employees - you can ensure that there is a pipeline of leadership-ready talent within your organizations. Below are just a few of the reasons why a former mentee will make the perfect addition to the next leadership opening within your organization

Firsthand Experience with Strong Leadership

The mentorship experience, in addition to providing much-needed guidance in terms of career trajectory and skill development, is a crash course in leadership. Quality mentors have often cut their teeth for years at the managerial and executive level, endowing them with an extensive understanding of what it takes to run an effective team. And, just like one-on-one time with a teacher is more beneficial in the school system, receiving individual mentorship from an experienced business leader is an invaluable educational experience for developing professionals. 

Former mentees are first-hand witnesses to the influential qualities that make an effective leader. As they log more and more hours with their mentor, the communication methods, relationship dynamics, and motivational practices deployed by their guide become a powerful supplementary lesson. 

Extensive Self-Awareness

Many people have the misconception that strong leaders have no issues with self-doubt, low confidence, or determining the way forward. They seem to take decisive action with ease and navigate difficult conflicts with conviction - all without a moment’s hesitation. These are some of the qualities that are most awe-inspiring about successful business leaders. 

But the unwavering confidence of these management and executive-level professionals is often just the result of robust self-awareness. When students and young professionals are taught to reflect on their identity, abilities, and values at an earlier age, they can form more accurate self-assessments. These assessments are crucial to making the right decisions in both the professional and personal realm, including the choice to embark on a leadership path. 

For former mentees, their level of self-awareness is often elevated further by the guidance of their experienced mentor. A key first step of the mentorship process involves conducting a thorough analysis of the mentee on a holistic level - from background experiences to current skillsets to future aspirations. This information is then used as the benchmark by which the mentee can assess how their abilities and goals change as they begin to grow professionally. Eventually, this self-analysis becomes reflexive, producing an individual that is well-suited to conduct themselves in a leadership or mentor position.

Comfortable with Growth

“A leader takes people where they want to go. A great leader takes people where they don’t necessarily want to go, but ought to be.” This quote from former first lady Rosalynn Carter about the difference between a good and great leader perfectly summarizes how the mentorship experience develops strong leadership qualities.

It takes a certain type of individual to actively seek out resources that will help them fast-track their career. Many of your employees are content to develop their skills at a comfortable pace within the confines of work hours. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with this approach, but it does hinder one’s ability to build familiarity with the process (and discomfort) of growth. 

For those individuals who have been on the receiving end of a mentorship program, career and personal growth is something that they actively embrace. They’ve already demonstrated this on their journey to find, engage, and grow with a guiding mentor during a critical developmental period in their professional life. 

Know How to Accept (And Give) Feedback

One of the most important aspects of any teacher-student relationship is how feedback is delivered between the two parties. When provided at the right moment, and with the right touch, critical feedback is one of the most powerful tools for personal improvement. But, if criticism is delivered poorly, it can also have a devastating negative impact. 

Researchers find that the temperament of individuals greatly influences how they respond to critical feedback. For those who rank high in trait neuroticism, for instance, it’s crucial that criticism is delivered in a compassionate, understanding manner. Experienced mentors know that they first need to get a handle on the psychological makeup of their protege before leveraging this kind of teaching strategy. And this practice is not lost on the mentee. 

Having first-hand experience with the effective delivery and reception of critical feedback, former mentees are well-positioned to apply this knowledge in a leadership capacity. If you’re on the lookout for a new executive or manager, seeking out a professional who has gone through a mentorship program is the perfect way to ensure that your leader can appropriately apply critical feedback. 

They Know True Mentorship is About More Than Just Work

In today’s work-centric culture, it can be difficult to find time to disengage from your professional life to attend to important things like family, friends, and individual goals. Finding a boss who actively encourages you to do so is almost unheard of. But that’s another critical lesson that former mentees take from their experiences - maintaining a balanced life

While providing their guidance, successful mentors often draw upon the personal experiences of themselves and their proteges to produce impactful results. This not only makes their lessons more resonant, but it also serves as an important reminder to the mentee that there is more to life than just professional success. When you find a leader who can leverage this former mentorship experience, they’ll help foster an environment of work-life balance that is shown to improve employee productivity, satisfaction, and reduce burnout. 

Tired of searching through the labor market for a candidate with the right blend of professional and leadership skills? Why not curate a pipeline of budding leaders within your own company instead! MentorCloud provides a comprehensive mentorship platform that has all the digital capabilities to connect your mentor or mentee with the perfect match. Get in touch with us today to learn more about how a previous mentee is an optimal solution for your leadership position. 

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