By Dean Dexter

Management vs Mentorship

Recently one of our leadership team members and I were discussing management styles and ensuring successful project outcomes. At issue is the fact that we have an incredibly talented group of employees. But, we also have business critical clients and projects that we have to ensure are executed successfully. We also know that sometimes talent is no substitute for knowledge and experience. So unless we did everything ourselves, our question ultimately revolved around how do we give these amazing people the right tools and direction to succeed?

Don’t kill the talent!

This reminded me of a time early in my career when I was a new manager. I had hired a very qualified individual, but in my misguided efforts to ensure project outcomes I tried to turn this person into a clone. I was so overly concerned that every project came out exactly as I envisioned that I forgot why I’d hired this talented person in the first place. They finally got tired of my micromanaging and left the organization. I’ve followed this person since then and I’ve been amazed at what they’ve accomplished. Had I remembered to be more of a mentor than a manager I might have seen more of this creativity and energy first hand. Who knows what that could have done for our business?

Bravery Required

Mentoring you see isn’t just about the individual, it’s also about what that person can bring to the organization. When you foster creative energy and turn it loose in your company, who knows where it can take you. Later I was fortunate enough to have a mentor that understood this. They shared with me their passion and knowledge for business. Then they were brave enough to let me use that passion and business knowledge to push the firm in directions they never imagined. Their business today looks nothing like the firm I started working at. Because of that bravery and mentoring they more than quadrupled in size and revenue.

No clones allowed

Mentorship isn’t about creating a clone of yourself. Mentorship is about sharing all your knowledge and experience and igniting that passion in others, then letting them run with it.

So if you have knowledge, passion, and experience share it with someone. If you don’t, ask someone you respect to share theirs.  Who knows where that might take both of you.