If you have ever heard the term, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” you probably responded in thought with something along the lines of “obviously not.” Successful businesses are the same, although it’s much harder to be patient when you’re the one building it. It takes years – if not decades – of hard work from a dedicated team that’s looking to solve a problem for the marketplace, build strong client relationships, a world class reputation, and continually optimize efficiency and profitability. If it sounds daunting, well, that’s because it is. Building a successful business, regardless of who you are, where you’re from, or what problem you aim to solve, is a challenge; and one that doesn’t need to be tackled alone.
As a woman who has made a career for myself coaching business leaders, each with their own unique backgrounds, experiences, and levels of success, there is one thing that connects every single one of my clients. That is, they knew they were capable of achieving more, and they sought out mentorship to help propel them – and their business – to the next level.
In this article, I will cover the five main reasons I have discovered throughout my career that exemplifies why every executive needs mentorship.
1) Gain Insight and Self-Awareness
By recognizing your need for mentorship as an executive, you have already taken the first step towards self-awareness, and, in turn, self-improvement. Research shows that CEOs who practice self-awareness see improved performance at all levels of their company, from their bottom line to employee satisfaction.
As an executive coach, part of my job involves gathering insight as to how others within your organization view you or the rest of the C-suite team. After all, as Les Brown says, “you can’t see the picture when you’re in the frame.” My goal is to help you become a better leader by helping you understand how others view you, and why, and what steps you can take to increase your influence to make a bigger impact on the team, and the company as a whole.
2) Increase Empathy and Understanding
This ties in with your ability to be insightful and self-aware. As an executive, your assessment of a person is only as strong as your understanding of them. Naturally, your assessment of a team member is largely based on their performance metrics, but if you don’t understand why they are performing at a certain level, you aren’t fully equipped to help them improve… because you might be trying to solve the wrong problem.
For example, what you might perceive as a competency issue might actually be that they are a visual learner being trained by an auditory manager. Or what might appear to be apathy could be distress due to something in their personal life, where a little support or an uplifting word could make all the difference.
In bettering your own self-awareness, your perspective of those around you becomes more deeply rooted in empathy, which is a powerful leadership trait. This will allow you to view the performance and capabilities of your team more objectively, so you can give effective feedback, coaching or training that truly makes an impact on the individual.
3) Improve Communication
“We need better communication.” – Every Business in the World
Think back to your early career. How would you rate your communication skills when it came to accurately expressing your ideas, voicing a concern or asking for help? Such skills don’t come naturally to most people, and it might even be an area where you’re still continuing to grow. The process of mentorship for executives often includes implementing new skills or methods to boost an organization’s internal communication.
Communication styles and methods vary widely, so gaps or breakdowns are inevitable if you don’t have the structure in place to prevent it. In fact, if you’ve ever wondered why people on your team just don’t “get it,” remember that their response is a direct reflection of your communication, or lack thereof.
As an executive, your foremost responsibility is to ensure your team – and the organization as a whole – works together in sync to accomplish the most important goals. This means ensuring that all leaders and managers within your organization are aligned with your vision and priorities, and that communication flows throughout all levels of the organization.
4) Understand and Leverage Your Strengths
Leadership is inherently stressful. It can be a cruel mirror that seems to amplify our weaknesses, and somehow overlook some strengths. It can be difficult to recognize our own strengths, because we tend to take for granted things that come easily to us. So while you might have an appreciation for some strengths that you’ve gained from years of experience, or that you tap into regularly for specific situations or circumstances, the best mentors will also help you recognize other strengths that you may be underutilizing, or are in need of development.
The leader you are today is perfectly capable of running your current business – but probably not much more. So if you want to take your business to the next level, it will require you to level up first. Remember, your business can’t grow faster than you do.
5) Set and Achieve Goals
Whenever I begin working with a new client, I ask them a few questions about their goals, such as:
- Are your goals clearly set, and if so, does everyone in your company know the #1 thing that needs to happen this quarter to move the company forward?
- What kind of metrics do you have in place to track the progress of your goals? Is there a dashboard that shows everyone the status?
- What roadblocks exist that need to be removed to make your goals a reality?
Last week I separately asked five executives what their company’s #1 goal was for the year, and when I got five different answers, the CEO was shocked. See, he thought he had been clear and assumed everyone was on the same page, but the thing was, they didn’t actually have a page to get on, as none of the goals or plans were actually documented. As their mentor, I am now helping them to fix that, and providing them with tools to determine and prioritize the top initiatives, and the accountability systems to execute.
Even amongst growing companies with well-intentioned CEOs, this lack of clarity – leading to inefficient execution – is more common than not. While charting the course is about 20% of the battle, the other 80% comes down to putting the plan into action. Think of it this way: missing revenue goals is a symptom of lack of clear strategy, whereas missing profit goals is a symptom of poor execution. Both the goals and the roadmap must be clear.
Whether your goals are to drive transformative change in your business, or you just want to fine-tune your skills as an executive, a great mentor can help. If you’re ready to expose blind spots, answer the tough questions, and get moving in the right direction to achieve your goals, find a mentor who can challenge you to achieve what you are truly capable of.
Karie Kaufmann is an award-winning executive business coach, entrepreneur, and disruption mentor. Since 2005, Karie has helped over 1,000 business owners and executives achieve their goals, and take their business to the next level. Visit www.kariekaufmann.com and subscribe to her YouTube video channel at https://www.youtube.com/kariekaufmann to learn more today.