A Client once said to me, “I’m not concerned how coaching and mentoring are different; I’m more concerned about why they are both important.”
I’ve been asked many times about mentoring. I always share the above quote and then I share how coaching is about personal accountability and mentoring is about keeping knowledge from walking out the door. This is, at a high level, why they are both important. My opinion is a result of my belief in the importance of focusing on the individual leader and the importance of understanding the ROI of this individual focus.
The inquiries I receive about mentoring are mostly seeking my thoughts on formal programs. I respond that I think mentoring is very important in any organization. I caution against too much structure. Mentoring is critically important to the succession management process – it is the foundation. But it must be organic.
Too much structure can frustrate the participants. Leaders are very busy in the 21st Century. While much of this activity may be busyness, we must be careful not to allow the mentoring program to be relegated to a category of ‘just something else I’m expected to do.’