Mentors Make a Big Difference

Do you remember your favorite teacher, perhaps your favorite coach? What about your favorite manager or boss? I do.

Throughout my life I have enjoyed the blessings of having many great people along my path as mentors. In many cases, some of my best mentors have been books, blogs and thought leaders in the field of sales, leadership and management. I have learned a great deal from these individuals and authors. Moreover, I have also enjoyed guidance and mentorship from great leaders. These individuals continue to be a resource for me.

Through the years, I have received many calls from colleagues asking if I can help mentor some of their young leaders. Such was the case of an Executive-CEO of a local tech company. He called me and asked if I was willing to mentor one of his rising star managers. Having known him for close to seven years, I promptly replied to his request with an emphatic yes! For three months I was able to mentor this rising star. We met on a weekly basis, reviewed our agenda, highlighted best practices, addressed specific case studies and situations, and roleplayed business scenarios before ending our sessions with goals for the week. Such has been my experience within various organizations as I have championed the mentorship programs as a way of bringing on board and developing new talent.

But recently I had the opportunity to mentor someone outside the professional realm. My son, who is currently a high schooler, has been expressing a great deal of interest in the business world. We often spend time talking about leadership, goal setting, execution, planning, books, specific sales scenarios, and more. During one of our latest events with the American Association for inside sales professionals (AA-ISP), I asked him to be the official photographer for our event. This was perhaps the first time that he had the opportunity to attend an event, mingle with great professionals, and learn from a great speaker that we had invited to present.

When we mentor someone, we make a big difference in that person’s life. In the case of my friend, the CEO, his rising star went from being an associate to becoming one of their managers and has made a significant influence on the company. The right-out-of-college individuals that I have hired in the past have gone from summer internships with my personal attention and mentorship, to become very successful inside sales representatives. In some cases, these individuals are now account executives, and some of them are positioned to be great leaders and managers. For my son, he’s having the opportunity to gather experience and to start thinking about his future possibilities in the business world.

In an HBR article entitled “What The Best Mentors Do” by Anthony K. Tjan, he highlights the importance of having a good relationship with those you mentor. “Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for a genuine, intercollegial relationship between mentor and mentee.” Tjan also highlights the importance of focusing on character rather than competency. He said: “… the best leaders go beyond competency, focusing on helping to shape other people’s character, values, self-awareness, empathy, and capacity for respect.” This is where you can actually make a big difference, looking beyond the items listed on a person’s resume and focusing your mentoring efforts on the person and their character. Your role as a mentor will be to help the development and acquisition of skills, “mastering the necessary competencies for a given position,” says Tjan.

The next time you get a call for an opportunity to mentor someone—whether it is for an entry-level position, a rising manager or leader, or perhaps even someone you love—don’t hesitate to say yes. There is joy in doing so, and a great level of energy that can be drawn by being surrounded by eager individuals seeking for guidance, experience and simply a reassuring hand to help them take the next step forward.

Ivan Gomez is the president and founder of NextStage a sales and management consulting firm specialized in helping technology companies with go-to-market strategies leveraging the power of Inside Sales. Ivan lives in Northern Virginia with his family, he is an avid runner, biker, and hiker.  Ivan is also the D.C. chapter President for the AA-ISP.