Why do Directors need Mentors?

by Mike McDonagh, Director at Hays Ireland

75% of businesses have a mentoring program for their junior employees. These programs are designed to help new joiners integrate seamlessly into the business while also helping them quickly develop the necessary skill set. But how many of these programmes are focused on senior figures within an organisation?

Being a leader can often be lonely. Many leaders are too proud to ask for help, considering it a sign of weakness whereas others simply don’t know who to turn to for help and support. Directors have an increased responsibility to continue developing to the benefit of the organisation as well as those whom they lead. Below are three ways directors can benefit from a mentor.

1. Experienced advice
Having access to someone who has previously been in your role is a privilege that very few enjoy. A mentor with decades’ of experience, who’s faced a range of challenges and witnessed a lot of market transformations, possesses knowledge that is quite literally priceless. There are no online courses or training days that can provide you with the wisdom that such a business veteran holds. Remember using a mentor does not mean you are inexperienced. You have extensive experience yourself but you will also be facing new challenges that require someone further down your career path to help you navigate successfully.

2. Unbiased perspective
Choose a mentor from outside your organisation who is free from office politics, unlike a relative or friend they are able to relate to your situation and provide relevant and salient advice. There will be challenges you have never faced, and times where you may not see the light at the end of the tunnel. Having an experienced mentor, who understands, will improve your decision making and judgement.

3. Access to a larger network
Networks such as LinkedIn are great for connecting with relevant professionals that you may not have met before, however, without a formal introduction or reference from a middle-party there will always be a membrane of unfamiliarity separating the two of you. Having a mentor erases this. There may be situations where your senior mentor isn’t able to give you direction, they will then turn to their extended network where they’ll know someone who can.

So how do you choose a mentor? Take your time and think carefully when approaching prospective mentors. Find someone that has correlative qualities to you, with a set of strengths and skills you want to emulate, this will make working together easier in the future.

Take a moment and tap into your network, reach out to someone you are comfortable with, who can be a neutral sounding board and will also provide great advice. On the other hand if you do not know who to turn to, there are mentoring programmes such as IEMP for senior management. They use a mentor matching process to ensure you get the best mentor. Ultimately whoever you choose will undoubtedly be flattered.