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Joe Szynkowski: The 6th principle: Go out of your way to mentor and mobilize others
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Joe Szynkowski: The 6th principle: Go out of your way to mentor and mobilize others

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A couple months ago, we introduced the first of seven main principles of our Work Happy Manifesto, a philosophy we created to inspire and equip workers everywhere to better enjoy their professional lives.

In case you missed it, here’s the full list.

No. 1: I work happy because I deserve to.

No. 2: My career does not define me; I define my career.

No. 3: My networking strategy starts with face-to-face, not email-to-email.

No. 4: My goals are aggressive, and my work ethic is relentless.

No. 5: I surround myself with positive people who have pure motives.

No. 6: I go out of my way to mentor, coach, motivate, grow, advance, mobilize, challenge and inspire others.

No. 7: I turn down opportunities from companies misaligned with my moral compass.

Each week, we will drill down into one of the principles to give you more context about some of the truths and myths associated with each one.

So, without further ado, let’s jump right in.

No. 6: I go out of my way to mentor, coach, motivate, grow, advance, mobilize, challenge and inspire others.

“I barely have enough time in the day to get my own work done, let alone worry about someone else’s problems.”

“If I mentor others, I’m worried about them taking my job.”

“I don’t have the experience or expertise to take someone under my wing.”

Do any of these phrases sound familiar? Have you muttered or thought them before? If so, it’s OK but you’re selling yourself — and your responsibility as a leader — short.

Effective mentoring takes effort, sure. It takes time and maybe some uncomfortable conversations about how your mentee can improve their work performance or skills.

But the payoff is worth the energy.

That’s why about three-quarters of Fortune 500 companies have mentorship programs. Investing in leadership is never a bad idea, even if you run a small or midsize business. Mentorship and coaching programs generally lead to improved performance, productivity and innovation, according to the Center for Workplace Leadership.

Why then, are so many of us reluctant to take lead on developing a mentor relationship with a colleague? We should all be actively focused on mentoring, coaching, motivating, growing, advancing, mobilizing, challenging and inspiring others.

Why? Because someone likely did the same for us at some point during our life.

How to be a good mentor

If you have a genuine desire to see others do well, then you’ve got what it takes to be a great mentor and mobilizer.

Here are a few defining characteristics of a solid mentor:

• Ability and availability to commit time and energy.

• Relevant industry or organizational knowledge.

• Active listener with an encouraging approach.

• Ability to deliver honest, direct feedback.

Not only is mentoring extremely beneficial to whoever you’re leading in an organization, it can also position you for greater success. Teaching someone about your career background, wins and even failures can help you frame and communicate lessons learned in a way that clarifies your value proposition and underscores your key attributes.

This can obviously lead to career progression and confidence that you will bring value to any organization.

The mentoring relationship

Once you build the confidence to mentor and find a good candidate, take the time to design a good structure for the relationship with real, attainable milestones. What are some actionable goals? How long will the mentoring engagement last? How often will you meet?

Your mentee will be looking to you for structure and guidance, so make sure you don’t flippantly breeze through this portion of mentorship.

Remember that like any relationship, it will take time to develop a bond. Get to know your mentee and don’t be afraid to ask personal questions – as long as they are within your agreed-upon boundaries.

The more you can learn about the person you’re trying to help, the most customized advice you can deliver.

As you consider doing more to motivate and challenge those around you, remember that a structured mentorship program is not necessarily required. Lead by example, make yourself available and bring solutions to challenging situations. You never know who’s watching.

We’ll wrap up this Manifesto series next time when we tackle No. 7: I turn down opportunities from companies misaligned with my moral compass.

Stay tuned!

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Email for more guidance on work happiness.



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