As more women than ever hold positions of leadership in the workplace, especially in the meetings and events industry, Dr. Sherry Hartnett explains why “leaning back” to mentor younger women might be the best way to help them “lean in” and rise to the top.
“Women’s History Month, which celebrates our strength, perseverance, and achievement, is an ideal time for women in senior leadership positions to extend a helping hand through mentorship,” says Hartnett, who coauthored the new book “High-Impact Mentoring: A Practical Guide to Creating Value in Other People’s Lives” with former Waffle House President and COO Bert Thornton. Harnett is a marketing and leadership professor, consultant, author and mentor. At the University of West Florida, she founded the Executive Mentor Program.
“Veteran female leaders often don’t realize how much they have learned, achieved, and overcome until they lean back and use that knowledge to develop others,” she emphasizes. “And in the process of mentoring, you’ll probably find yourself receiving many unexpected gifts.”
Harnett shares five things female leaders can gain from mentoring.
Reignite your professional passion. As you share accumulated knowledge with your mentee, explain why you chose the path you did and reflect on what your career means to you. Especially if you’ve become discouraged or disillusioned over the years, this self-reflection can help you rediscover enthusiasm for your job and reconnect you with professional purpose.
Gain new skills and adopt new viewpoints. Mentees can help you embrace and master new technologies, ranging from shared organizational dashboards to social media strategy. This will help drive your company’s digital transformation. By working with younger women, you’ll also gain a better understanding of topics like emerging social responsibility values, inclusivity and unconscious bias.
Have a really good reason to always live your values. Your mentee is closely observing how you think, act, tackle challenges, manage conflict, navigate gender bias, etc. This knowledge will ensure that you’re not cutting any corners and that you’re always fighting the good fight. If you give your mentee advice, she needs to see you implementing it in your own career as well.
See firsthand the bright future women have in business. Mentors often report that their opinion of the next generation has improved because they have a better understanding of younger women’s strengths and potential. Mentors also say they’ve become more effective leaders because they’ve gained important insights about what younger workers prioritize and value.
Leave one heck of a legacy. What better mark can you leave on your company than showing women that their work is recognized, appreciated and rewarded? That they themselves are valued, developed and seen as future leaders?