leaders In header

Are Future Leaders Being Overlooked? Mentorship Might Be The Solution

According to DDI’s Global Leadership Forecast 2018 report, one of the biggest challenges CEOs face today is finding the next generation of leaders to develop.

Not only did 64 percent state this as a major concern, but an additional 60 percent felt a major problem they face is a failure to attract and retain top talent.

Many companies lack a clear route to the leadership holy grail of job positions, the C-Suite. With a serious lack of talent being retained, this is ultimately stunting the growth of their businesses and the ability to beat competitors.

Are future leaders hiding in plain sight?

At first glance, leadership development and mentoring might seem like an obvious solution to a big problem. However, these kinds of offered opportunities don’t reach most employee inboxes. Very much operating as an “exclusive club”, mentoring and leadership development is extremely selective.

Perhaps the big mistake companies are currently making, is not opening this kind of development to the wider organization of employees at all levels. While certain roles demonstrate an understandably clear path to leadership—roles with a muddier progression path could still use investment in leadership growth. Rather than focusing on the trajectory of particular job roles, leaders should be investing in an individual’s growth.

How often do we hear stories of major leaders that got to where they are today, not by following one path, but by moving around to different kinds of roles and industries? If you fail to look at potential leadership in employees at all stages of their careers, you’ll lose out on the opportunity to discover future leaders.

Mentorship is a great way to combat the loss of talented future leaders because it provides numerous benefits. From helping improve key business skills, offering an opportunity to soundboard different perspectives, and growing through real-life experiences that are so invaluably scarce. Most importantly, it offers an opportunity to groom potential into power.

Mentorship Statistics: Who is benefitting most from mentoring?

The DDI Global Leadership report analyzed how different companies used mentoring to amplify leadership potential. What was clear from the report is that organizations operationalizing mentorship gain invaluable connections, maintaining experience in-house, and further breakdown silos. Sadly, even with such clear benefits, only a third of organizations actually have formal mentoring programs.

Looking at the statistics provided, it’s very clear there are many missed opportunities to use mentorship as a development tool for new and existing leaders. Don’t be a company underutilizing this powerful tool.

Mentorship Styles

There are numerous mentorship styles that offer great ways of avoiding classic mistakes made when approaching leadership development. Looking at mentorship–who it can be offered to and how to offer it–are important factors that can assist in identifying the right kind of mentorship for your organizations. Differing mentorship approaches range from traditional mentoring, reverse mentoring, mentoring by leading, and group mentoring to name a few. Using one or more of these type concurrently can boost your overall view of potential leadership candidates.

Traditional One-to-One Mentoring

The most common type of mentoring, one-to-one, is whereby an experienced mentor is paired with a mentee on the basis of certain, deliberate, criteria.

Skill set, level of experience, and personality are among a few of the many factors considered when a mentorship pairing occurs. The success of this kind of mentorship can determine the success of the programs end goals–as job roles differ and the path to certain kinds of leadership requires different knowledge sets.

Group Mentoring

Not to be used in place of traditional one-to-one mentoring, but rather in conjunction with– many experts report the best ways to learn lies within a peer-to-peer scenario. The reason being the ability to learn from each other and share personal success stories, roadblocks, and career fumbles with peers who are more than likely dealing with some of the same experiences.

Research conducted on group mentoring by River resulted in 96 percent surveyed to state the practical use directly in their roles from information learned directly from group mentoring.

Reverse Mentoring

Traditional mentoring in organizations look to expose future leaders to established ones. Natural assumptions lead you to believe a mentee benefits best by learning from talented, experienced individuals with a legacy of success. However, reverse mentoring works in the opposite way.

Imagine inviting the rising stars within the business to mentor your established leaders. Mentoring on topics that a young worker would have expertise in such as; emerging technologies, generational perception, social media, and social trends can provide valuable learning for seasoned leaders.

Turning a traditional relationship dynamic on its head can inherently motivate future leaders to take an initiative of their development, honing personal skills such as speaking to different audiences and confidence building. Not only a great personal development tool, reverse mentoring amplifies the likelihood more experienced leaders will recognize future leaders that might have been overlooked at first glance.

Mentoring by Leading

Some of the best ways people learn how to become future leaders is when thrown into a situation where you have to lead a group. One great idea that would enable individuals in a company to develop leadership skills is by leading one of their own mentoring groups. Critical skills such as driving conversations and relationship building are utilized with this kind of mentoring technique and prove to be a valuable real-time way of developing leadership skills.


In short, don’t make the mistake of overlooking talent that’s right at your fingertips. No matter what style of mentorship you choose for your organization–the only wrong choice is to offer no choices. Expand your assumption of what a budding leader looks like, and you could unlock the formula for finding incredible future leaders!


*This article first appeared on www.thehrobserver.com

Strategic Media Partner