With the baby boomer generation preparing for retirement, a huge leadership gap looms over many major companies. Numerous top level management positions are occupied by baby boomers today, and with time the torch has to be passed to the next generation. Many retiring business leaders hence try their best to mentor their successors to make sure that they are capable enough to lead discerning organizations. In fact, several successful business leaders of the country, like Richard Ghilarducci, have been mentored by their bosses.
Richard Ghilarducci talks about the approach boomers can maintain while mentoring new business leaders
Being a good mentor not only makes sense for boomers from a pay-it-forward point of view, it also makes a lot of business sense. Boomers tend to have all the right ingredients needed to mentor younger professionals. They can help younger professionals to become successful leaders in their own right. Boomers generally have what it takes to seed and perpetuate the value they have gained through years of experience. For boomers, it is among their greatest opportunities, as well as their greatest responsibilities, to pass on what they have learned.
The best mentors are not teachers in the traditional sense. Instead of trying to direct mentees on what to do, the boomers try to share their own lessons and information and let them come to their own conclusions. They try their best to lead by example, which can be a huge motivator. Boomers typically use their expertise and confidence to inspire the mentees to achieve the same level of mastery and equanimity earned by the mentor. Boomer mentors are generous with what they know, as well as the connections they have. Networking and relationships can be a significant asset to a younger professional, and help them to grow into leadership roles over time.
In the initial stage, a mentee is unlikely to see the full picture of the business the way a mentor does. Hence, boomers should try to explore ways to help them to learn some of the lessons important to understanding the long term vision and goals of a business.
As Richard Ghilarducci mentions, a good mentor must be fully committed to the task. They must always be personally available and transparent towards their mentee. The best possible learning takes place through the ability of both mentor and mentee to let their guard down. For a mentee to be successful, it is vital that they feel comfortable enough to share their dreams, ambitions, fears and concerns with the mentors. Leading the way by showing the young professionals that it is okay to talk about these things is the hallmark of a true mentor.
Boomers should not just expect that the learning process to take place by itself, nor should they expect the mentee to know which questions to ask. Rather, they should be proactive about outlining the knowledge and expertise they want to impart to the mentee. Boomers can be great mentors if they manage to impart their knowledge and experience in a consistent, supportive and nurturing manner.