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Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning

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  • Posted June 12, 2014

    There are varied reasons for which I¿m inspired to read a book,

    There are varied reasons for which I’m inspired to read a book, but none as compelling as this new book, Managers as Mentors: Building Partnerships for Learning by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith.  I was drawn by the title, but engulfed by the content, starting with the first line above the table of contents, “Beginning Our Journey”.  The table of contents could have sold the book, but real attraction came in the comprehensive coverage of mentorship, what it is, how to be a mentor, how to create the safe environment, how to start the relationship, how to end it when the protégé has reached graduate status.  It’s all there. It’s all in this book. 
    Do you ever start at the end of a magazine and read from the back to the front? I do. How often do you start at the back when reading a book?  Not that often.  Right?  I’m generally systematic about reading books, even non-fiction.  Even though the authors said,  “Most books are meant to be read from beginning to end. This is not one of them.” I found myself at the final section of the book where I was “Beginning Our Journey” as pointed out earlier.  Why would I do that? I was enticed by the Mentor’s Toolkit.  There are 6 tools mentioned, each of them serving a unique purpose; here are just two of them:. 
    Tool #1 - Tips for Mentors and Protégés
    - Mentoring is about learning, not looking good in front of your mentor. Be yourself
    - When your mentor gives advice or feedback, it’s a gift.
    - Great mentors foster discovery, they don’t instruct; ask thought provoking questions.
    - Give feedback strongly focusing on the future, not heavily rehashing the past.
    Tool #4 – A list of excellent books on the topic of mentoring
    Rewinding to the front of the book, I was tempted to jump around and select topics on a whim, but I couldn’t do it.  I read that mentoring relationships thrive under the SAGE model.  The acronym stands for S – Surrendering, A – Accepting, G – Gifting, E – Extending.  Those definitions gave me incentive to read the book cover to cover so I didn’t lose the inherent knowledge of how mentoring relationships form and thrive.
    Mentoring has immense value, especially as employment platforms expand, technology advances quickly, and opportunities for learning are vast. Remember when we heard “It takes a village.” everywhere we turned?  It hasn’t changed. This book acknowledges the importance of mentoring and offers practical guidelines as well as ample forms of assessment for mentors to determine their talent for mentoring and others that measure their effectiveness when engaged in a mentoring relationship. 
    Think about this. What would hold you back if you were the protégé? In fact, that could apply to the mentor too. Trust? Safety? My favorite section of the book discussed creating a safe haven where both parties of the mentoring relationship learned the elements of trust, enhanced listening skills, asking awesome questions, and nurturing courage. 
    What stands out in this book is the use of storytelling to further develop the scenarios that help readers apply and identify with mentoring techniques that thoroughly define and add value to the mentoring relationship.  Supportive case studies add interest to each topic, but they also provide proven techniques conveyed through interviews with managers who have adopted and succeeded at mentorship.  Managers as Mentors?  Yes! This is the perfect prescription for Building Partnerships for Learning. 

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  • Posted June 10, 2013

    My reading focuses on either leadership, learning, or human beh

    My reading focuses on either leadership, learning, or human behavior. Sometimes I am fortunate enough to find all three topics woven together in a significant way in one place.  "Managers As Mentors" is one such of those rare and valuable places.

    In all honesty, they had me at their definition of mentoring:  Mentoring is learning, not teaching.  For those of us who care about developing effective leaders, this difference is crucial.

    Then they start talking about ingredients like "a true partnership philosophy" and "power-free facilitation of learning", and now I am really hooked.  

    This is not your father's mentoring model, where the older and more powerful person guides the naive youngster through the corporate culture.  This is leadership development between equals in a mutual learning environment.  
    I look for three things in a book:

    Readability:  Bell and Goldsmith have the ability to write in a natural and engaging style.  Their concepts are clearly stated and amply illustrated.  Great little learning stories are sprinkled throughout each chapter and makes reading much more enjoyable than some other books I have encountered.

    Clarity:   Those little learning stories also provide for easy understanding of the model that Bell and Goldsmith espouse.  We all know the value of storytelling, but we do not always see good examples.  The authors make learning about as painless as it gets with their ability to state what they believe in a direct and interesting way.

    Value:  Whatever the book is providing has to be of immediate use to me.  This book creates instantaneous moments of insights, what someone else called "multiple AHA moments".  Several are worth mentioning so you will look for them as you read this book, which you must do:   

    The SAGE model includes four elements:  Surrendering, Accepting, Gifting, and Extending.  These four research-based core mentoring competencies are significantly different from the more traditional mentoring models.  

    A Mentor Scale tool based on the FIRO-B is also provided, along with amplification of the three elements which it measures:  Sociability, Dominance, and Openness. This self-report will really get your reflective skills going, as you consider the implications of the results for your own mentoring activities.

    There's much more of value in this book, but you have to discover some things yourself;)  Now doesn't this make you want to read "Managers As Mentors"?    I know I will be returning to this book frequently in the future.

    Disclaimer:  I confess that I received a copy of "Managers As Mentors" for review as part of the book's relaunch.  I do not review books which I do not honestly enjoy and find of value for those who would lead others.  "Nuf said.

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