I still hear what my Mom told me when I was young: it is better to give than it is to receive. One gift that is just as good for leaders to give as it is to receive, is mentoring.

So much of the research on workplace mentoring looks at the benefits of receiving mentoring. Mentees have higher job satisfaction, higher salaries, and higher promotion rates than those who don’t receive mentoring. Makes sense.

But what about the mentor? If you mentor others, does it help you? My research on mentoring at CCL says emphatically, YES. Managers who mentor their direct reports are seen as better at their jobs and more promotable. And for leaders managing for the first time in their lives who are usually front-line leaders, those at first- or entry-levels of leadership in organizations, my research on first-time managers at CCL here and here shows that the ability to mentor, coach, and develop others is an imperative for leaders, and one that is a big challenge for leaders to excel in as well. Particularly for first-time managers, but in reality for every leader out there, you need to mentor others. [tweet this].

So we know it works. But why does mentoring help the mentor? According to researchers Aarti Ramaswami and George Dreher1 there are six reasons:

  • Human capital – Mentors can learn a lot of new information from their mentees which will make them more effective.
  • Movement capital – Mentors can become aware of new job or career opportunities as their mentees move across the organization.
  • Optimal resource usage – Mentors can have their time freed up to do other things when mentees are delegated important work.
  • Social/political capital and signaling – Mentors can expand their power base by mentoring others, increasing their own reputation as a solid performer.
  • Identity validation – Mentors can enhance their own self-awareness, self-discovery, and growth as a leader.
  • Relational gains – Mentors can feel a strong emotional bond with mentees which may benefit their own physical and mental health.

In the video below, you can hear how a mentor (me) and a mentee (Jacob Martin, a former intern and current graduate student in the industrial-organizational program at my alma mater, the University of Georgia) both benefitted from a high-quality mentoring relationship.

It wasn’t just about the paper that was published on the needs of participants in leadership development across seven countries2 and the arroz con pollo and chips and salsa celebration.

I’m very proud of Jacob’s efforts, and it’s great to see him making a contribution to the field. I am looking forward to what he will do once he graduates with his doctorate in a couple of years. He has definitely helped me become a better mentor and leader as well. So, how has mentoring others helped you? I hope that you will share your thoughts below, or tweet about them using #LeadershipSolutionsCCL and #mentoring. Let me (@Lead_Better) and CCL (@CCLdotORG) know about it too.

1Ramaswami, A., & Dreher, G. F. (2007). The benefits associated with workplace mentoring relationships. In T. D. Allen & L. T. Eby (Eds.), Blackwell handbook of mentoring:  A multiple perspectives approach (pp. 211-231). London: Blackwell.

2If you are interested in the paper we were celebrating over Mexican food, you can find it here: Gentry, W. A., Eckert, R., Munusamy, V. P., Stawiski, S. A., & Martin, J. (2014). The needs of participants in leadership development programs: A qualitative and quantitative, cross-country investigation. Journal of Leadership & Organizational Studies, 21, 83-101.


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