There is no bigger approval as a leader, than your employees coming to you for help and mentorship. I am not talking about a weekly or monthly scheduled talk, where you ask, if they need any help or support. I am referring to them openly contacting you, asking for your opinion and advice. Asking for advice is a good sign as they are taking a risk by sharing their insecurities and lack of skill in this specific point.
Taking a risk means there is a certain level of trust between you. They trust in you being able to help them outright to solve their problem and they know, you will not exploit their insecurities for your own agenda or their disadvantage.
But how can you earn this trust?
It’s important to listen
I personally experienced the full spectrum — managers who only nod while working in parallel and good listeners, who ask question and make me feel heard. I observed them and got the following learning: Practice active listening. Relate to the given situations. Stay with yourself and share your feelings and thoughts to what has been said. Clarify a common understanding and people will feel heard. A nice bonus: You will actually get to know them.
Don’t be afraid to admit when you don’t know something
Michael Foucault said:
Maybe the target nowadays is not to discover what we are but to refuse what we are.
Many are held back by their anxieties and worries about failing or not doing a great job. When people come up to you looking for advice, chances are high they look up to you. So when you, a role model, share stories of your own failures, your advice becomes much more relatable and motivational. I often get the feedback that my honesty is encouraging. Me sharing that I do not know the answers, but being happy to help is making it easy for others to connect to me.
It’s ok to disagree
Mentoring isn’t about being or becoming perfect. You are not perfect. Neither are the others. Every opinion counts. Encourage them to go into conflict with yourself. The best ideas and solutions come from disagreements. I love listening to opposive, strong opinions and trying to see the word with different eyes. This helps you to step into the others shoes and find even better tips for their problems.
People will remember how you made them feel
Be intentional in the way you treat others. You should be creating and atmosphere fore people to grow in. Noone will remember the exact words of advice you gave or what specific actions happened to help them through challenges. They will however remember the calmness you were able to give their mind. They will love you for the security you could give them to follow their own opinion. They will be greatful that you opened up the room and let their creativity run free, still keeping them focused. The strongest impressions will be the feelings you leave behind. Make them count.
Trust has to be earned. There is a reason it is called “trustworthy”. You have to become “worth their trust”. This can only happen with open and honest communication, with you also trusting them. So be yourself and don’t try to shine. Lead by example, not by force. Until then,