A Gem From Tom Zender – Is Your Leader a Mentor, Too?

Is your leader a mentor, too? How To Know

Fact. Great leaders have great mentors. Currently and in the past. And the best leaders are strong mentors to their teams. Interestingly, good leaders do not have to be the CEO – there are many effective leaders throughout effective organizations.

An important role of a Mentoring Leader is to develop additional good leaders – who then start mentoring others. This is an intended, positive chain reaction to build successful organizations. Famed investor Warren Buffett has mentored Microsoft founder Bill Gates for years.

“As we look ahead, leaders will be those who empower others.” – Bill Gates

How do you know?
• Mentoring Leaders demonstrate desirable skills, attitudes, and behaviors:
• Good mentors teach, coax, support, and lead the way by example.
• This kind of leader brings out the best in their mentees – even when their mentees do not report to them.
• The Mentoring Leader is authentic, humble, trustworthy (trusting too). They are available, present, excellent listeners, and believe in training.
• They lead by example to show the way, rather than pushing people in a direction.
• Teaching good communication skills is an inherent part of a Mentoring Leader’s work – particularly effective listening skills.
• A Mentoring Leader admits their mistakes openly to their mentees, shows why the mistake was made and demonstrates how they repaired any damage, and how to prevent the same mistake again.
• Taking on an exceptionally tough task and educating their mentees through the process of conquering exhibits the courage of the Mentoring Leader. Then, helping their mentees through a challenging situation enforces learning by doing.
• Motivating their mentees is essential to a good mentor – and the joy of seeing their mentees succeed is a form of the psychic income received.
• BTW, good mentors are willingly mentored – often by a younger protégé. IT skills are a good area where this takes place.
Mentoring Leaders take no credit for the good work done by their mentees – instead they further motivate the mentee with appropriate praise.


Association for Talent Development (ATD) research found that 75% of successful CEO’s had strong mentors.

3M Corporation has a long-standing formal Mentoring Program, rated among the best in the U.S.

The Buffet-Gates mentoring relationship is not unique: executive mentor Bill Campbell mentored Steve Jobs of Apple. And Steve Jobs mentored Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook.

The bottom line

Be a Mentoring Leader. Find a Mentoring Leader. Or both. Help someone else’s career – and your own. This is work with a visible, heartfelt purpose.

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