One of the key tenets of leadership is the need to pass on the knowledge and experience to others. Most great leaders throughout history have made it a priority to grow and develop other leaders who can come in, take the reins and lead more effectively.
A mentor is a trusted counselor or guide, a tutor, a coach. A mentor cares more about helping others than getting credit. A mentor seeks to make the world better through helping individuals and inspiring them to help others. In the context of helping others, a mentor seeks to:
- Guide: Mentors teach others how to learn, how to find ways to do things themselves. When you ask your mentor questions, he or she does not give you the answers, but guides you to find the answer yourself. They teach you how to be successful by helping you become self-successful.
- Inspire: Mentors motivate. They have high optimism and a love for life. Their energy is contagious. Mentors lead people to succeed through their own success and by encouraging others to believe they can also succeed. They set a pattern to follow.
- Build: Mentors develop others. They provide opportunities and direction. They create structure and process to channel the growth and development of those they lead. Their goals are “other” oriented; not wanting the glory or limelight themselves, they foster the growth and success of others.
Make it a priority to find someone for whom you can be a mentor. Your efforts will help that person learn and grow. Giving your time and knowledge to others will help you develop your leadership skills.
Leaders are mentors. Mentors are leaders.
The Product Management Perspective: A key opportunity (if not specific job requirement) of a product manager is to inspire people on their team to be successful. They build products that delight their customers. They do not simply see themselves as the keeper of requirements, but the leaders of teams and causes which tie directly back to their products.