It does not have to be!
One of the unspoken challenges that comes with the ascension into a senior leadership role is that there is no one to talk to. When a leader takes on the role of the Chief Executive Officer, they are perceived as having the competencies and the abilities to enact all organizational decisions and strategies on their own. As the leader of others, the CEO does not need to have a leader for themselves. It is as if once the leader has assumed the role, they are fully formed and no longer need further development from others.
This view of a leadership practice flies in the face of the principles of life-long learning and the on-going development of a learning organization. Leaders are human. Humans are innately drawn to the need for constant development and continuous learning. While the organizational leader may no longer need to have the same kind of formal professional development plans that they learned from as they moved into more senior leadership roles, once they are in the top position, the leader does need to continue learning and growing, just like everyone else.
Mentorship provides one of the most effective forms of leadership training and learning to those that move into the organizational leadership role. The role of the leadership mentor is explored in a recent article in the Financial Post.
The mentorship relationship can have a powerful effect, not only on the CEO, but on the organization as a whole. When the leader is healthy, the organization is also healthy, as noted in the article. A leader who has a mentor is able to shape and share ideas to problem solve in a safe environment that respects the leadership function and understands the challenges that come with the mantle of the organizational leader. The mentor may be one of the few people who can hold the mirror up to the leader for healthy self-critique and continuation of personal and professional development.
We all need someone to talk to who understands and can support us, especially when we must face difficult or challenging decisions. As with any type of relationship, the key to successful mentoring is to ensure that both the mentor and mentee understand their roles and respect each other’s boundaries.
The leader who keeps learning is a positive role model for the rest of us.
- As a Training and Development specialist, how would you develop a mentorship program for the CEO of your organization?
- Why would a CEO resist having a formal mentor as part of their personal leadership development plan?
- Identify three key characteristics of someone who has been a mentor for you. What made the mentoring relationship work for you?