Practice Listening to Develop Others


This week I follow-up Mentoring the Mentor with a guest post from my colleague Margo Gram.

I was recently invited to participate in CAPACOA’s mentorship program, The Succession Plan (TSP). Over the course of a weekend conference, my mentee and I met several times and had lots to talk about.

I was pleased to be asked to be a mentor – flattered that colleagues would think I had something to offer. That aside, I was also pleased because I have gained so much valuable experience from mentors throughout my life and now it is time to give back.

Being a mentor has similarities to being a parent in that we love to give advice.  What is important for me in mentoring is to practice listening and to support my mentee in her/his development of problem solving abilities rather than providing answers that worked in my situation.

What I gained from my mentors and what I hope my mentee gains from the process is a growing confidence to tackle the challenges and to know that we’re not alone. It is the beginning of a new network of contacts. Help is one call away.

I was impressed by the calibre of the TSP mentees. They are bright, fresh, thoughtful, and passionate about their work.  As part of the boomer generation, I have been hesitant to give up control, because I haven’t believed the younger generations cared as much as I do.  I am wrong.

To a first-time mentor, I’d advise them not to overwhelm their mentee with advice. My hope for first-time mentees is that they should not be afraid of being honest about their challenges, and recognize that we have all been there.

Margo Gram

Thank you Margo for your thoughtful insight. And thank you for the powerful suggestion to practice listening to develop abilities in others.