A Mutual Learning Experience

This article accompanies CHROs and their Mentors.

You can't be successful in a corporate environment unless someone else teaches you how.

That's the perspective of David Dotlich, a former CHRO for Honeywell International, now chairman and CEO of Pivot, a leading worldwide provider of customized executive programs and consulting, based in Portland, Ore.

Effective mentoring programs assist in matchmaking mentor relationships rather than simply assigning mentors. Once the connection is made, it's important to figure out if the relationship is going to work.

"It is possible to mentor someone you don't like, but it takes a lot discipline and effort," he says. "The thing that makes mentoring work well is creating an authentic connection."

If a company doesn't have a formal mentoring program, senior leaders can find suitable mentors by reaching out to ask for help with a specific task, rather than simply asking the awkward question, "Will you be my mentor?"

Bring a potential mentor a genuine dilemma, Dotlich says: "Leaders like puzzles and problems. Ask them to choose between option A or B, which is the best route, and why."

The goal for the mentee should be to learn from mentors (yes, multiple) to help them create sustainable, long-term organizational value, which is their stock-in-trade as a member of the upper echelons of a corporation.

The mentor can benefit, too. "Mentors sometimes think of it as a one-way relationship," Dotlich says. "Mentors should approach it as a chance to learn, as opposed to just giving advice. That is much more energizing than a one-way relationship."


Dec 9, 2013
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