Leadership is an essential part of growth and progress. John Wooden observed that the most powerful leadership tool that one could have is their own personal example, echoing the thoughts of John C. Maxwell that a leader is one who knows the way, goes the way, and shows the way. The debate rages on about whether leaders are born or made, but the one thing that is absolutely certain is that leaders are definitely shaped. They are shaped by the events that they go through on their path to success, the failures they endure, and by the people around them.
One of the best ways to shape the leaders of the future is by mentorship. The mentee gets an opportunity to learn up-close what it takes to rise to leadership. They can learn from failures in leadership without having to go through them personally from the experience of their mentors. In essence, they are basing their decisions on their unadulterated desires, their innocent idealism, and the guidance of the firm hand of the mentors who have been through the same journey. Clearly, then, mentorship is instrumental and communication is key to the success of that relationship. So how do you ensure a fruitful communication between the two parties? Here are some key tips.
1. Get to know each other
Chances are that the mentor and the mentee come from widely varying backgrounds and they may even be complete strangers to each other united by their common interest in leadership or in a certain industry. They must therefore get to know each other for there to be any meaningful relationship in the first place. In order for them to be able to communicate effectively, each must understand the other’s personality and how they communicate best. The mentee must know how to address the mentor without the mentor feeling like he is being rude or holding back. Similarly, the mentor must know what form of communication the mentee understands best.
2. Define expectations
In the process of getting to know each other, each must define what they expect from the relationship. The mentor must state clearly how they expect the mentee to behave and most importantly, how they project their progress to be. The mentee must have clear goals that they aim to achieve with clear timelines. Understanding what the other party expects makes it easier for the two parties to be able to discuss what they perceive to be a failure on either party’s part as well as progress in the relationship.
3. Be honest
Honesty is the best basis of any strong relationship, and the mentor-mentee relationship is no exception. Honesty is the only way that either party will know what the other one is feeling or what they want. The mentee must be able to express themselves fearlessly; asking what they do not understand, making suggestions, and giving opinions. The mentor must also take the lead and give their honest opinion of the mentee’s progress. They must give their considered advice candidly, but also tactfully so that they are giving guidance while not being controlling either.
4. Listen actively
For there to be any communication at all, both parties must undertake active listening. This means that both parties must be part of the conversation. They must pay attention to the other person while they speak, reading their body language, asking questions, and understanding their point. This is important for the mentee so that no point that the mentor is making escapes them, but also for the mentor so that they completely understand the issues that the mentee has so that they can give effective guidance.
The relationship between the mentor and mentee is one that requires constant communication to avoid the risk of turning dysfunctional. They must keep in touch so that the relationship keeps growing and not retrogressing at any point. However, for a person to qualify as a mentor they must have achieved some level of success and that comes with responsibilities and so their time is highly valuable and divided between many activities. Resultantly, it may not be possible to meet or communicate on a daily or weekly basis. This means that they both have to make the most of whatever little time they have together. This leads to one of the most important mentoring tips: the mentor must undertake research to know how best to deal with the issues at hand in every level of the mentorship journey. The mentee must conduct research to build on the knowledge acquired from every conversation and to prepare for the next one. They should have ideas about the journey they are going through so that they can ask questions and hence learn more from the mentor.
About the Author
Elaina Meiser is a graduate student and an enthusiastic blogger from Sweden who is interested in writing about everything worth reading in the sphere of education and information technology. She also loves creative arts, different tips & tricks guides for students, excursion and backpacking trips. You can connect with Elaina though Twitter or visit her blog at EvoEssay.