THE BLOG

Mentoring Others Can Empower Your Career

01/04/2016 03:34 EST | Updated 01/04/2017 05:12 EST
Ezra Bailey via Getty Images
Business colleagues discussing ideas in an office.

I find it frustrating when people don't want to give back or lead. I don't know what galvanizes people to decide to avoid essential aspects of democratic life -- you know, the ones who prefer to sit on the sidelines, the leaders who text or email bad news rather than delivering it in person.

According to my data and the data from accredited sources such as Gallup, HBR, PWC and Deloitte, workforces aren't engaged. This isn't a new problem and proposed solutions clearly are not having an impact. But maybe the real issues aren't being identified.

I believe that people are afraid and have given up caring about one another, themselves and their work. They just do what that have to do to get by at work every day. Stress and depression are on the rise in the workplace -- there is a correlation. The less you stand up to be counted, the more likely you are to succumb to stress and slide into depression.

When I was working with a particularly obtuse businesswoman who didn't really care about her followers, supporting others, or building a leadership pipeline, I wondered about what was truly going on. It led me to a revelation I call outcome-based advocacy.

Outcome-based advocacy recognizes that most of us are motivated by self-interest. That "self" might include your spouse and your children, or your parents and your extended family. Or it may just mean you. And all those primary concerns are normal. They're part of our survival instinct. But you, like me, may want to make lots of money and create a better world for yourself and those you care about.

You can do both.

Self-interest is fine. It's good, it's normal, it's nothing to be ashamed of. It's a positive, not a negative.

But remember this: once you have met the needs of self-interest, you will have lots left over to be able to give of your knowledge and time and money to help people in this world who need the help of the fortunate.

Don't ever lose sight of the fact that you are among the world's fortunate few. Despite what the neo-cons say, it's not just your ability and diligence and perseverance that brought you to where you are now. You either had a lot of breaks from the start, or you got them along the way. Being born and raised in a developed country is probably the biggest break you could hope for.

To practice outcome-based advocacy every day, forget the liberal notion that you have to suffer to help the suffering. In fact, just the opposite is true.

The person who practices self-denial and refuses to use his or her abilities and opportunities for enrichment may well be able to "relate" to the needy -- to understand them, to commiserate with them -- but he or she is not going to be able to help them, at least not in the material ways they need.

People need to eat before they need to understand their place in the cosmos. It's the rich corporations that have the greatest capacity to satisfy material needs.

And it's the rich corporations I am fed up with. They have created a culture of fear because workers are a cheaper line item on a P&L when they are fearful of taking chances, supporting each other and innovating. In workplaces where innovation is not only tolerated but encouraged and support for one another is palpable, ROI is much higher, churn is lower, productivity is up and teams support each other rather than retreat into their silos.

If you are sick of being fearful, having bad days and not having control of your career, try mentoring someone -- help them help themselves -- using your talents.

Mentoring takes 30 minutes a week. Really, everyone has 30 minutes a week to help someone else. If you are convinced you don't have 30 minutes a week for such an initiative, find a new job. You are just chasing tasks and history proves you will fail.

To mentor effectively and practice outcome-based advocacy, you need a schedule of activities and you need structure. If you don't have these in place, email my colleague Rhonda at Rhonda@thedms.org. I will send you my book -- for free. The only payment due is to pass it on to someone else who needs to have a better day when you are done.

Research has proved that mentors benefit more from their experience with their mentees than we had previously thought, based on 850 mentoring experiences. Mentors report that they found themselves to:

• Be a better listener

• Be more available for all their team members

• Be non-judgmental

• Have a better sense of humour

• Be happier and more stable in personal relationships

On their reviews, people listed them as the most trustworthy and honest in the organization. This is likely because mentors had become more reflective and understood how they were inspiring others to build better teams, a better company and a better community.

Guess what? These are also the qualities of a great leader. Of all the mentors who have participated in the program, 66 per cent who wanted a new position as an outcome (with the full support of the organization) found one as a direct result of their mentoring experiences.

So, the next time you see someone who is not on their game, who is just putting in time, or who seems angry, suggest to them that they channel their self-interest into mentoring. Take it upon yourself to stand up and be counted in 2016.

Screw stress by helping your fellow man.

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