“Leaders aren’t born, they are made. And they are made just like anything else, through hard work. And that’s the price we’ll have to pay to achieve that goal, or any goal.”Vince Lombardi
Many of you may relate to this. How can you best help your talent grow into leaders? What are the best ways to help them develop the softer skills of managing, delegating, being accountable, and ultimately leading others?
Developing talent has evolved over the years
When I started in the crazy and yet wonderful business of advertising, a lot of time and money was spent on training at all levels. I started my career as a young aspiring account person at DDB in New York. The commitment to help us learn the business was built into the core of the agency. We first had to spend an entire year in another department – either media or research – in order to understand these important disciplines hands on. Outside business school professors were also brought in for marketing classroom learning.
During the next 10-20 years of my agency career, at top agencies in NY, Chicago and LA, I was afforded the opportunity to go to multiple seminars, webinars, leadership retreats and more. And thru these opportunities I learned a lot about the business of advertising and marketing.
Learning to be a leader is different than learning the business of advertising
Learning the ins and outs of how to be a team player, a manager and then becoming a leader of teams and ultimately, an agency did not come from classroom learning. It came from having great bosses and great mentors. Why?
A Harvard Business Review article by Sydney Finklestein entitled “Why a One-Size-Fits-All Approach to Employee Development Doesn’t Work” discusses the importance of personalized coaching for employees. Some bosses do it exceptionally well, but others either don’t have the time or make the time or worse, don’t understand the value of personalized coaching.
Becoming a strong leader is somewhat like becoming a good parent. Some people are born with natural skills, but even those skills are often undeveloped. And as Vince Lombardi so aptly stated, developing leadership talents, whether you have natural skills or not, comes with hard work … and often with some great teachers.
Leadership skills can be learned through a great boss or a great mentor. Or a combination of both.
Great bosses or supervisors can be great mentors…but not all are capable of doing so. And that is not a knock on how someone manages people. There are differences between a mentor and a boss. Think of it this way. If you are directly responsible for managing someone, your first priority is to ensure the individual you’re supervising is performing the job you hired them to do. Your priority isn’t necessarily to teach them how to lead others, but rather it’s about getting the work done.
A mentor relationship is different. It generally takes place out of the traditional manager-employee relationship. And because of this, a different kind of learning and trust can be built. A mentor can provide personalized input and focus on things like accountability, team building skills, communication style, delegating and more. This type of work can be incredibly powerful as it relates to learning the non-functional aspects of leadership. And working with a mentor is a often a more safe and objective space for a person to learn and grow in these areas.
One other thing to keep in mind, you can always walk away from a mentor, but you can’t necessarily do the same thing with a boss.
I founded bloom mentoring because I believe learning the skills of leadership is vitally important in whatever role you play in an agency.
If you want to learn more how mentoring could benefit your team, feel free to send me a message anytime.