Category: Leadership

Leadership Development – Role of a Leader in Crafting a Shared Vision

Julie Straw and team in their book The Work of Leaders discussed three steps of leadership – Crafting a Vision, Building Alignment and Championing Execution. In this article, we discuss the importance of not just crafting a shared vision but also the role of a leader in crafting a shared vision.

To begin with, people like their leaders to have two distinct characteristics – being forward-looking and futuristic and being credible or trustworthy. To get extraordinary things, people must work in the present and focus on the future into the whole realm of possibilities. All things are created twice – once in the mind and then in reality. A leader’s job is to continuously envision new products and services and new business ecosystems that can take the organization towards success.

Leaders must focus on creating long term value for the organization and its customers while focussing on the present for delivering results. By focussing on the future, leaders can provide a sense of meaning and purpose to the organization that binds its people together and inspire them to work hard. By continuously seeking clarity of vision and then enlisting others, leaders create a sense of shared vision.

Motivation theories provide a business case for creating a shared vision. As we know, motivation is essentially of two types – extrinsic and intrinsic. Extrinsic motivation stems from the external environment, for getting rewarded or when we must achieve certain goals set by others. External motivation creates compliance and in some cases defiance. Externally controlled people could stop making efforts once rewards disappear.

Extrinsic motivation is difficult to sustain. However, the second type of motivation – intrinsic motivation is about what one wants to achieve internally. Not set or controlled by others, internal motivation is about our own interests, passion and desires. It gives us tenacity to see through rough times and work with tangible rewards. By enlisting people in the process of shared vision, leaders play on intrinsic motivation of people. By offering a shared vision that everyone feels intrinsically inspired by, leaders create a rich environment where employee engagement and performance are enhanced. The role of a leader in creating a shared vision is in enticing the intrinsic motivating of the people and in building consensus.

Role of a Leader in Crafting a Shared Vision

Self-Reflection

One of the first steps in crafting a vision is to do some self-reflection and articulate as much as possible one’s likes, passions, interests and inspirations. Because the process of envisioning is more art than science, more emotional than a sequence of activities, it is important to start by articulating what drives and inspires the leader. The role of a leader is in not just self-reflecting but also encouraging the leadership team in an exercise of self-reflection.

Direction

Second, by engaging with the larger team, where everyone shares in their values, inspirations, perspectives, questions, hopes and dreams, you could arrive at certain themes or directions that define the overall shared vision. Role of a leader is in engaging the leadership team in a structured process of deriving these idea directions.

Hindsight

Past provides a great way to start looking into the future. It is filled with experiences, data, perspectives, reality and most importantly learning. It gives a picture of what is possible and how long does it take for you as a company to do something new. It provides a good view of what can go wrong as well. While the past does not always portray the future possibilities of an organization, it provides a good way to extrapolate the success and assess what an organization may achieve. The role of a leader is in engaging the leadership team in a systematic process of sharing the highs and lows about the past and arriving at the key learnings form the past.

Present

By assessing the current business ecosystem, leaders can enable the creation of a shared vision. Recent research and surveys involve understanding how the organization creates value for its customers, what the current capability and shortcomings are and how people feel working in the organization. The juice of assessing, reflecting and articulating the current state of the organization is in knowing what must change and what must be preserved in the future.

Imagining the future

The final step of creating a shared vision, which the leader must drive is in imagining a bold future. A future that considers the unfolding market situation, trends and patterns in the buying behavior of the customers, technological advancements and disruptive trends. The role of a leader is in providing a psychologically safe environment for the team to share their version of the vision without the fear of loosing credibility.

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Process of Executive Development Programs

Not surprisingly, people are most willing to attend training that has direct, concrete applications in their world – technical knowledge relate to their jobs. But when asked which would greatly increase their effectiveness at work, the number one answer, was executive development program.

Executive Development Program is basically leadership development program, and, in this article, we shall explain the three fundamental responsibilities an executive has. Leadership is a process by which an executive can guide, direct and influence the behaviors and working style of others to achieve the common goal of the organization. It is defined as the potential to influence and motivate others.

An executive has three fundamental responsibilities:

They need to craft vision, build alignment, and they should champion execution. There’s a lot of skills that goes into each of these responsibilities.

When leaders lack a clear vision of the group’s future, they are feeling their way through the execution process, relying on day-to-day revelations. Sure, they have a collection of goals, plans, and schedules, but they don’t see the underlying tapestry, how everything fits together. They’re much less likely to realize when priorities are misplaced or when opportunities are passing them by. Vision, however, is more than just the efficient use of time and resources. A truly great vision elevates our work. It sparks our imaginations. It touches on our human need to do something of value with our lives.

Think of difference between a beaver building a dam based on its instincts and a team of people building the Indira Dam. The vision of the Indira Dam involved reimagining not just a river but an entire landscape. That vision opened a whole awe-inspiring array of possibilities for the land and the community. Visions are designed to inspire us. They speak something that is uniquely human. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

Building alignment is the second responsibility an executive has after creating a vision. Building alignment is an act of gaining buy-in for the vision crafted and it’s critical in moving from imagination to reality. For an executive’s development, building alignment is as crucial as vision. It is people centric and is therefore as complex and unpredictable as human relationships. The full spectrum of human motivations, personalities, cultural understandings, perspectives, and needs is present in your workplace every day.

The people you work with may be seasoned employees or new hires, with vastly different experiences and levels of responsibilities. But building alignment means ensuring that every person understands his or her role in making the vision a reality. An executive also understand that alignment is not something to check off a to-do list. Alignment is dynamic, ongoing process that requires continual monitoring and realigning as conditions and needs change. By staying plugged in, an executive can quickly tell when alignment begins to wane, and they can then give the time and energy needed to revive it. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

At its most basic level, execution is making the vision a reality. And not just any reality, but the right reality, one that takes the imagined future and turns it into a real accomplishment. Execution is how organizations and teams take all the good ideas and tun them into results. While an executive may or may not be directly involved in day-to-day implementation and production, they are always responsible for ensuring that people have what they need to do their work effectively. Successful execution of a vision can’t happen without the deep commitment. Your executive development program should consider this factor.

For developing an executive, it is important that the executive have deep understanding of all these three responsibilities and therefore, while designing an executive development, one must keep in mind these crucial responsibilities.

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Why Leaders must be Trained for Fostering Collaboration?

Collaboration is the currency of effectiveness in a team environment and every leader must be able to deal with it and maximize it for best results.

Leadership, in any industry and at any level is never a solo act. The very essence of leadership is in creating excellent performance by engaging others. Even when there is personal excellence in a team environment, it is rarely an outcome of talent and commitment of one individual. It is a result of many people contributing to make one person successful.

In a world that is increasingly more interdependent, more networked and more aware of the ecosystem, collaboration will prove to be the driver and the game changer for any organization or team. Collaboration may be viewed as a social imperative without which extraordinary results may just be impossible.

So how should leaders go about creating and fostering collaboration in a team and perhaps inter-team? What should a leader train to do in order to create a fertile environment for collaboration to foster? There are three areas that a leader must train on in order to foster collaboration within the organization:

  1. Build Trust
  2. Define and enhance interdependence
  3. Encourage communication especially face to face communication

Collaboration, when not pursued with the right intent and behaviors could quickly deteriorate into conflict and stress and therefore collaboration, paradoxically so, requires more leadership than less.

Patrick Lencioni defines trust from a vulnerability perspective, many cultures and management gurus have viewed trust form the perspective of openness, being direct and transparent. What ever be the perspective, it does seem that relationships within and outside of the team foster on trust. Trust is the basis of all great partnerships and client-vendor relationships. Irrespective of the culture or geographical nuances, beginning with trust has always created an environment where people like to take risks and get things done.

When a leader is trained to build trust in abundance, they would often come across people who are willing to share how they feel openly, they call out mistakes and risks often and without fear and are motivated to commit to larger goals. When there is mistrust, relations suffer as doubt, fear and deceit becomes more rampant. Trust is a good indicator of the level of employee engagement you would see in an organization. Trust delivers higher level of commitment and collective results in a team. When there is trust among people, they are open to each other’s suggestions and viewpoints. They are ready to consider their own goof ups and mistakes in a positive way. And so, people are more willing to call out mistakes and appreciation for each other.

These behaviours enhance trust. Furthermore, leaders openly share their own aspirations, wants and needs, their own goof ups and vulnerabilities. Because they trust that their team does not take advantage of such personal information shared, they demonstrate trust. This further results in increased trust and that is why we say, trust begets trust.

For teamwork and collaboration to happen, it is necessary that everyone understands that they can’t do it alone! That success of one depends on the other and that there is no great individual success. There are just collective results. The second most important aspect for leader to train on and demonstrate is his or her ability to build a sense of positive mutual dependence among team members.

This is best done by building goals and objectives that require continuous cooperation. By looking at larger goals and breaking them down into action points or priorities for people based on their individual aspirations, talents and interests, it is possible to foster an environment where cooperation will bring greater results and sustained effort. A leader must also, at a cultural level, define the norms for reciprocity. Because cooperation may involve unequal effort and rewards, with one person doing more for the other person because of the nature of the job or their capability, role etc., it is important to define the norms that do not make any one person feel exploited. This aspect has a cultural nuance to it and is usually difficult for inexperienced leaders to play with.

Because communication is becoming more virtual, dry, short and abrupt, it can lead to moments of low trust and disengagement. By encouraging face to face communication, where people do not just exchange data but load it with feelings, perspectives, moods and values, leaders can foster collaboration. By interacting more with stakeholders and with sustained face time, it is possible to enhance trust and collaboration.

When a leader trains to systematically exhibit behaviours that help them build trust, enhance inter dependencies and create sustained face time, they can increase collaboration in an organization.

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What it takes to be a Leader?

We all approach leadership from a unique standpoint – a combination of our own psychological make-up, intelligence training, and experience. Life has taught each one of us what it means to be a leader, and we probably caught our first glimpse of it as children. As we watched our parents, teachers, and coaches, we started to build our own concepts of being a leader, and with every new experience, that concept became more complex. In these experiences, we not only made notes of exemplary leadership styles but also noted things we wouldn’t do if we were in charge.

So, in a way, before any of us took on our first leadership roles, we started to think what it means to be a leader. And yet, as evidence by the conversation we had with seasoned leaders, few of us are prepared to lead. It is obvious that leadership is more of learning by doing act than anything still we have plethora of books stating latest and greatest ways to lead.

With all this information out there, why do so many leaders feel ill-prepared? In our conversation with a leader, he gave us his take on the institutional systems that typically funnel promising people into leadership roles. It is straightforward, if you perform your job well and show some hustle, eventually, you’ll move up the ranks. This is where it got a bit complicated for the leader as they keep on doing exactly what they’d be doing – and now direct reports must do leader’s earlier work and they now require the leader to inspire them and motivate them. Well, nobody taught the leader how to do that. Now, our leader had done all the traditional things that people do to prepare for leadership. They’d been to business school, for example, but still, they are caught off guard by the unique demands placed upon them as a leader. And, in this day-to-day task of it all, there is a requirement for some time for conscious reflection on the style of leadership.

Being a leader requires them to make difficult decisions like – being forced to choose amongst competing demands but what truly messes things up is the fact that people are the integral part of meeting the goals. Leaders often need to align their people with complex goals, deal with resistance, and try to gain a common ground from people with diverse interests.

In order to grow as a leader, you’ll need to focus your leadership skills in new directions, and this may be mentally and physically taxing for you. While you may get your first leadership position due to your positive working attitude or for your outgoing personality, you may want to develop your analytical side to be more successful in your next position. Well it goes without saying, “with great powers comes great responsibility”, a leader must strive to increase their competencies. This means, for example, you may want to balance the art of analyzing situations along with rallying the troops when the synergy is lagging.

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Leadership Coaching for Organizational Performance

Leadership Coaching is a process that aims to help leaders meet the organizational needs. It is a personalised, collaborative relationship between the coach and the leader. A leader may be anyone from a team leader, supervisor, project manager to a business owner or a director. It includes anyone that is leading a group of people in an organization.

The process of leadership coaching, although intended to benefit organizational goals, helps personal growth of the leaders as well. It improves their interpersonal relationships, job satisfaction, happiness quotient and work-life balance. It is very important to differentiate between coaching and other processes like mentoring, technical training, counselling and training. The aims and approaches of these processes differ largely from Leadership Coaching.

As mentioned earlier Leadership coaching is a partnership between the leader and that coach where both parties agree upon the destination they want to reach and establish a plan with a timeline detailing how they would approach the process. The ideal outcome would be a sustained behavioural change in the leader that is beneficial to their personal life and most importantly their professional life.

There are two forms of Leadership Coaching, one being developmental coaching and the other being coaching to manage problems or risks. Developmental coaching is a foresight that improves leadership practice in an organization like emotional intelligence and work-life balance whereas coaching to manage problems or risks addresses the factors like stress that threaten the efficient functioning of the organization. A pertinent method of leadership coaching in today’s fast paced world of business is to incorporate both forms of coaching while making sure to first coach to manage problems and then move on to developmental coaching.

Process of Leadership Coaching

The process of Leadership Coaching must always follow some base principles. It must establish an environment that is safe but also challenging for the leader. The coach must facilitate the leader’s growth through effective collaboration. They must also guide the leader to practice self-awareness by monitoring events and how they affect the leader and the team.

The coach must encourage the leader to draw on past experiences in the workplace and treat them as learning experiences and make note of how they could improve on the previous practices. The most important principle is for the coach to always follow the practices that are in line with the recommendations given to the leader.

The sustained behavioural change in the leader that is brought about by Leadership Coaching results in many benefits to the organization as well as the leader’s personal growth. The leaders identify the areas where their communication can be improved and, also improve the quality of interactions with a diverse workforce. The leader can identify their strengths and weaknesses and are empowered to work on their weakness and best utilize their strengths.

This change leads to a significant improvement in performance. The leader gains new perspective through the coach and learn how to analyse the underlying problems of a situation and work towards the solutions more easily. Leadership coaching reduces narrow-minded thinking in the leaders and benefits innovative and free thinking.

Investing in Leadership Coaching leads to multiple benefits to the organization. It also adds value to the leaders’ personal growth and hence results in higher levels of satisfaction and commitment towards the organization. The skills that a leader learns through the coaching process can trickle down onto the lower levels of leadership in the organization and transform the organizational culture.

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Wisdom of Leadership Vision

The only thing worse than being blind is having sight but no vision.” -HELEN KELLER 

This quote by Helen Keller clearly distinguishes the difference between having a sight and having a vision. You do not need to have eyes to have a vision but imagination. Your vision is what makes you different, makes you dream, makes you work and ultimately makes you a leader.  

Leaders are called Leaders because they have a vision, a dream and a direction in which they want others to follow. No one would want to follow a leader without vision. When working in an organization, every employee lives in a world of shared beliefs, values, and goals which is the same as your organization’s leader. As a leader, one must be clear about what he believes and wants to accomplish in life.  

Leadership Vision can be defined as the magical lens of leadership. Through this lens, you can foresee the bigger picture of the future and help others see it and make it a reality. When you share this bigger picture with your team, they will feel that they are a part of something bigger, something better and something achievable.  

They start to adapt, adjust and align with your beliefs and vision and start working in the direction you want them to. The vision that has its roots in the past, addresses the future while dealing with the current reality, represents you and what you stand for. It not only inspires you but also the people around whose commitment you are demanding and with whom you are going to be the change you want to see. 

Simon Sinek once said, “Great leaders must have two things: a vision of the world that does not yet exist and the ability to communicate that vision clearly.” Leadership Vision is not just something to hang on a wall for motivation, but a goal on which every employee will work on, every single day. So, put on the lens of leadership vision and weave something that excites, inspires and captures every heart present in the room including you. Then you must be able to explain your vision and at the same time demand what you need and want. That would be a good starting point to be a great leader. 

But to make tens or even hundreds of people follow your leadership vision is not an easy task. First, you must be very sure of your thoughts, because if it doesn’t reflect in your attitude, no one’s going to buy it. Your vision should excite you and ignite the will that you never knew you had. Reflect on your ideas thoroughly and discuss it with the team. Take your time and build around the ideas a little more, in favor of the organization, employees and of course yourself.

Your Leadership Vision Must: 

  • Reflect your beliefs, values, strengths, and commitment. 
  • Clearly states the organizational goals, purposes, direction, challenges, and benefits. 
  • Challenge people to stretch themselves to a new limit every day. 
  • Encourage to communicate their ideas and thoughts. 
  • Demand the commitment from the employees. 
  • Mirror the concept of together we grow. 
  • Be the reason behind organizational actions. 
  • Inspire care, loyalty, and teamwork spirit. 

Johny Quincy Adams once said, “If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, and become more, you are a leader”. Visioning requires leaders to convey the common goal to their employees so that they can passionately work towards their common goal. Strengthscape’s Jamavaar helps leaders to create a visual map of their leadership vision. Jamavaar, a living tapestry, is a business workshop that assists leaders to portray their complex ideas into words and images. Jamavaar works hand in hand with the leader to understand the minutest details of the past and the present to craft a clear future vision for the organization. 

 

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Most Popular Models in Leadership Development

Leadership is a trait that has been revered by men across the ages. It has led to the creation of individuals who are larger than the masses. It has also been quite a sought after quality and many people and organizations have wanted to develop their own.

In the modern world leadership training and leadership development are terms that have been associated with various training and coaching institutions. This is because this has now become a field of study with a lot of research to back its discoveries and theories. Leadership training draws its content from these research works and drafts out the delivery with the trainees in mind.

There are various leadership models that have been identified by the scholars over the time and these models are related to the personality of various leaders, their environment, their circumstances and finally their impact on these circumstances in particular and history in general. Scholars and researchers have also differed in the exact number of models and their characteristics. For e.g. some believe that there are three distinct styles of leadership.

These are authoritarian or autocratic, the participative (also called democratic) and the free reign model also known as Laissez-faire. As the name suggest the authoritarian style is based on the absolutely power of an individual whereas the participative style allows active participation of the followers. The third style of Laissez-faire is the most lenient with the leader only exerting some controls in the affairs. In leadership training the first and the third styles are the least desired.

Some other classifications are identified as Transactional leadership, Transformational leadership and Situational Leadership.

These are three important classifications which have further explained this idea.

Transactional leadership comes into existence by virtue of a silent agreement that maintains status quo of a particular process at any organization. An e.g. of this is the agreement between an employer (the leader) and a employee (the follower) wherein the employee agrees to follow the leader by accepting to work under him.

The Transformational leadership is different as it strives to change the position or status of an organization to something different or better. It seeks change and betterment. It is more proactive and has the ability to involve others in a task or motion. This is an important step in leadership development.

The Situational leadership is a very respected and acclaimed identification of Paul Hersey and Ken Blanchard. They have stated that for a leader to be effective he has to oscillate between four distinct features and styles of leading his men depending upon the situation at that given point in time.

  1. Firstly, the leader may direct things to his followers without entertaining any ideas.
  2. Secondly, he may act as a coach and listen to ideas although take decisions independently.
  3. Thirdly, he supports the participation of his followers but keeps his guidance.

And finally, the leader delegates responsibilities to individuals and allows them to make decisions. Situational leadership requires that the leader be vigilant and about the need of the hour and change his style according to the need. In terms of leadership development and management this is the most effective.

All these leadership models have been studied and researched so as to make the managers of the new age better prepared for what’s in store and how to handle them. If this information are available to any person it would be foolish not to utilize them to the best of one’s ability. After all, it would do nothing but help in leading a better professional life.

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How to Identify the Boss or Leader & Its Characteristics

All offices have managers and bosses, but very few of them have leaders to whom everyone can look up. Leadership training can bring about such a great change in your style of functioning that you no longer need to breathe down your subordinates necks to ensure they do the right thing – they do them perfectly by their own free will.

Importance of a good leader

The right form of leadership is what ensures a company’s long term development and growth. A leader impresses several positive ethics on employees that help them develop qualitatively, taking the organization to a whole new level of success. Since employees are the fuel on which a company runs, efficient employees mean better output. This is where leadership training is important to be able to harness the capabilities of the entire work team.

Leaders come across as friendly, dependable and approachable whereas bosses present a more conceited and selfish picture. When you are a leader, you grow, your company grows and your employees grow along with you. When you are a boss, you grow alone.

Character traits of a boss

Check if any of the traits mentioned below apply to you and you’ll know if you are a boss who needs leadership training to make the transition to being a leader.

  1. You enjoy wielding power, sometimes even unnecessarily
  2. You try to exploit people’s, even if it creates problems for them
  3. You like the sound of your own voice and are averse to listening
  4. You don’t bother to appreciate people for jobs well done
  5. You hog credit that is not truly yours
  6. You do not care about those who are not the brightest
  7. You are only bothered about things that you deem are important
  8. You do not spare time to discuss employee concerns
  9. You do not try to connect directly with individuals or figure out ways to motivate them

A leader speaks in terms of ‘we’ while a boss speaks in terms of ‘I’. Leadership training helps you look at the bigger picture, transcending the minutiae of power, credit and money. A boss can only wield power and authority but with the right form of leadership training, he can also learn to command his people’s love and respect.

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8 Contrasting Signs of an Insecure Leader

The path to success is full of ups and downs. Although you may have set your goals well, leading others to it is not an easy task and this is the area that leadership training seeks to address. A good leader sets an example of himself to his peers and subordinates. However, we often find executives who are leaders in their stream of jobs, but are extremely insecure in nature.

  • What could be the reasons of their insecurity?
  • And what could be the possible signs of their insecurity?

Let’s explore.

Low Self-esteem

Some people suffer from a low self esteem, have very powerful emotions, become extremely dependent and have a fatalistic attitude towards life, which means that they feel slightly hostile towards the people around them. Fortunately, insecurity that arises from such feelings can be overcome with the help of leadership training programs.

Here are a few signs to help you identify how secure a person feels about his leadership.

Insecure leaders

  • Tend to put others down to prove their power at work
  • Are extremely opinionated and make this obvious during the course of their conversation
  • Feel threatened by growth of other people; this leads to jealousy
  • Compare themselves with others
  • Are control freaks
  • Avoid discussions on issues that may involve a direct confrontation
  • Prefer to stick to their way of doing things; not flexible to consider change

How Leadership Training can help

To help such individuals overcome these failings and create a healthy and a positive work environment, try providing them opportunities to attend leadership training programs. These will help to identify the positive traits in them and develop the same.

Two core aspects in such leadership training programs are the self awareness and empathy. Self awareness helps to recognize one’s true capacities, strengths and skills. Empathy helps leaders view things from the viewpoint of the people they lead, making them more understanding and consequently, more people-centric.

Corporate success is not something external; it is the natural expression of the holistic development of the changes that occur internally within a person. Leadership training programs can help kick start this process of internal change and help executives become secure leaders who use their self awareness and empathy to lead their team ahead.

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Role Of A Mentor

The role of a mentor is different from that of an executive coach. While the coach sets you in the path of discovery, the mentor acts more like a guide, a sounding board, a role model, a skill developer and an advocate. The role of mentor in an organization can be that of a group mentor or individual mentor. In group mentoring, a group of employees benefit from the expertise and the experience of the mentor whereas in a one-one mentoring such as a leadership mentoring, the leader gains from the mentor’s expertise.

Whatever Be The Kind Of Mentoring The Role Of Mentor Is More Or Less The Same

1. Guide

In mentoring relationships, the mentor acts like a guide to the organization by identifying areas that need to be set as objectives for achievement. He/she sets targets, time frames and lists people responsible for task accomplishment. This may also mean rearranging of tasks or their methodologies and guidance for effective time management.

2. Role Model

In mentoring programs the mentor is more of role model than just a teacher. The mentor possesses skills, knowledge, experience and insight which the organization as a whole desires to adapt and follow. He/she is a person who influences people by their organizational knowledge and experience, communication skills and style, people management skills and techniques and values will make him/her an effective role model for the organization.

3. Sounding Board

The mentor acts a sounding board especially in a one-to-one mentoring where he/she gives ideas, plans and problem-solving. They also help the mentees understand the organizational culture and politics so that they can grow and achieve their highest potentials.

4. Skill Developer

As experts mentors are basically skill developers. In a mentoring relationship the mentors teach mentees or facilitate learning process in mentees.  Mentors also provide specific skill development that an organization may require for their employees, for instance, managerial skills.

5. Advocate

Apart from being a guide, a mentor sometimes advocates and supports top talent mentees which benefit both the organization and the mentees according to the scope of mentoring for that particular industry.

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