All too often, mentoring can become just another task on your to-do list.
But mentoring requires developing a genuine rapport. Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for an authentic, collegial relationship between mentor and mentee. You need a baseline chemistry with your mentee, and you must have their best interests at heart — even if those interests aren’t the same as the company’s.
Of course, it would be great if your mentee wanted to sustain a long career at your organization, but it’s more important to help them discover their strengths and passions and the best place to apply both. When counseling your mentee on career decisions, encourage them to find their calling whether it’s at your company or somewhere else.
This is the best way to inspire commitment.
Curated by Trevor Lee
These 6 attributes may not be the familiar leadership competences taught at many business schools but it is my belief that they underpin success in today’s collaborative world.
The terrain will change, but collaborative leaders are patient with their partners and with themselves. Your direction may be clear, but you will need a flexible approach to getting there and accept that this will take time.
2. Collective decision making
Decisions made by leaders in isolation and enforced by hierarchical power aren’t sustainable in today’s world. Inclusive decision making informed by bottom up data is key.
3. Quick thinking
You need to be able to see both opportunities and risks before others do, and act in response to them. This requires a quick intellect, and the confidence and courage to implement new ideas whilst taking people with you.
The world we describe isn’t a stable one. Governments come and go; dramatic events happen, you cannot produce a detailed plan of action and expect to see it through step by step. Successful collaborative leaders are tenacious in the pursuit of results that deliver the overall common purpose.
5. Building relationships
Collaborative leaders go out to find future partners, identify sponsors, make new alliances – and are prepared to do all this in unexpected places. They invest energy in doing this sort of networking activity ahead of time, so they can call on these relationships when the pressure is on.
6. Handling conflict
Interdependent relationships are multi-layered and always contain seeds of possible conflict. Collaborative leaders don’t see conflict as a mark of failure – rather it is part of the territory, and they are confident in holding the difficult but necessary conversations that help to bring about a resolution.
As you move up in an organization, people increasingly look to you for answers.
But the best leaders don’t provide all of the solutions — they inspire curiosity, creativity, and deeper thinking in their employees. And that starts with asking the right questions.
Encourage your employees to slow down and explain what they’re proposing in more detail by saying something simple and to-the-point, like “Wait, what?” You could also use phrases like “I wonder why…” to encourage curiosity. And then follow up with “I wonder if things could be done differently.”
Another question to try: “How can I help?” – this question forces your colleague to define the problem, which is the first step toward owning and solving it.
Curated by Trevor Lee
How we can bring Edison’s world-changing collaboration process into the digital age.
When we call Thomas Edison to mind, our first thought is of a brilliant inventor and innovator whose creations transformed modern life. We often think of him toiling away in a laboratory all by himself, long into the wee hours of the morning.
And yet, we rarely consider the role that collaboration played in Edison’s world-changing success. Tangled in the lore of the lone American inventor, our mind’s eye conjures Edison’s spray of white hair, his signature bow tie, and we quickly ascribe his 1,093 US patents to innate genius.
Tempting as it is to sustain this image of Edison, it is inaccurate. In an age when we speak of Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs in the same breath, it’s important to refresh our understanding of the pivotal role collaboration played in Edison’s innovation prowess. He viewed collaboration as the beating heart of his laboratories, a sustaining resource which fuelled the knowledge assets of his sprawling innovation empire.
Thomas A Edison
Rising from humble beginnings, Edison was largely self-educated, pursuing his relentless passion for learning well into his 70s, when he taught himself botany. Deeply skilled in chemistry, telegraphy, acoustics, materials science, and electro-mechanics, Edison’s thirst for discovery began in his early teens and never ceased. Like a magnetic force all its own, Edison’s brainy leanings drew others to his quests, attracting bright colleagues with a huge diversity of skills.
From his earliest years renting space in workshops and small laboratories, Edison collaborated with others. Realizing the value of sharing his inspirations with people who held different skills than he did, Edison felt a unique bond with those who labored with him. In establishing his famed Menlo Park Laboratory at the age of 29, Edison journeyed from the failure of his first patented invention at age 22 to becoming a world-renowned inventor in just 7 years, establishing collaboration practices which came to be a signature of his campus-style operations.
Midnight Lunch – Published by Wiley – is a book from his descendant Sarah Miller Caldicott. It challenges each reader to examine the ambitions they’ve set for themselves, re-imagining what one person is capable of producing when they work in true collaboration.
The linkage between innovation and collaboration underscores why Edison’s collaborative approach becomes such a relevant subject for us now. Given the increased scrutiny placed on the role of innovation as a driver of growth for every economy – whether emerging or developed – we must ask whether collaboration is also engaged. Like a symbiotic organism which can only thrive when its host is present, innovation can only gain sustainable traction when true collaboration also exists.
I had the privilege of a pre-publication read of Midnight Lunch (Edisonian employee ritual) and can’t recommend it highly enough for any that see innovation and collaboration as the way to future business success and a higher purpose.
© Wiley Publishing and Author Sarah Miller Caldicott
Twitter: @WileyBiz and @SarahCaldicote
Curated by Trevor Lee