Is Leadership Mentoring Actually Effective?

I love watching the show “American Idol”. It is amazing to see such an incredible transformation from initial audition, to the finals show where a winner is declared. So how do these average people make this amazing transformation? Simple, they are mentored by several experts in a short period of time.

Viewers do not really see all the activity that takes place behind the scenes, between each show. You hear about how demanding the entire process is for the contestants, but the show really never describes this process. We just see beautiful people get on stage and sing better and better each week. The reason these seemingly normal people can change into a “superstar” in a few shorts months is because they spends hours and hours with image consultants, make-up people, and singing coaches. In other words, they learn the fast way, from someone that already knows how to be successful.

So how does that apply to business, and specifically leadership development? Simple. The same process applies. New leaders need to surround themselves with others that are experienced and successful leaders. Can you imagine how bad American Idol would be as a show if they just left it up to each singer to pick out an outfit, practice the song, and put on their own make-up? It wouldn’t be the show it is today. But in business, we do leave it up to the new leader to develop their skills, and at the expense of the team members.

Most of us would not spend the money to hire the kind of “image” experts that the American Idols have. But if you were talented, wouldn’t that investment be a wise choice? In business, new leaders really need to look at mentoring and coaching as an investment that will come back to them tenfold. Let someone else help you learn today, what would normally take you months or years to learn (if ever).

Mentoring and coaching are both very valuable services that are available internally and from outside consultants. Find a good, commit to 6 months of regular sessions, and take a look back at how your talent has grown. Coaching is a process of open dialogue where the coach may “guide” the client, but ultimately will direct the thoughts and actions they take. Coaching does hold the client accountable week to week to do what she says she will do. Coaches are great sounding boards as well. Mentoring is really more of a combination between the coaching process and training one on one. The mentor will share his opinion, ask questions, and ultimately make sure that the client understands how to best approach situation to produce the desired outcome.

So if the average Joe can learn how to become a superstar on American Idol, you too can spend time with a Mentor or Coach and over time become a superstar leader.