What the Best Mentors Do

mentoring | career advice | professional development |leadership

By Anthony K. Tjan | February 27, 2017

Harvard Business Review

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Mentorship comes in many flavors. It doesn’t always work unless leaders bear in mind a few common principles.

Over the past three years, as part of my forthcoming book, I’ve been researching how leaders can better judge and develop their talent in light of a changing, more purpose-driven, more tech-enabled work environment. Having interviewed close to 100 of the most admired leaders across business, culture, arts, and government, one important characteristic stands out: They do everything they can to imprint their “goodness” onto others in ways that make others feel like fuller versions of themselves. Put another way, the best leaders practice a form of leadership that is less about creating followers and more about creating other leaders. How do they do that? I’ve noticed four things the best mentors do:

Put the relationship before the mentorship. All too often, mentorship can evolve into a “check the box” procedure instead of something authentic and relationship-based. For real mentorship to succeed, there needs to be a baseline chemistry between a mentor and a mentee. Studies show that even the best-designed mentoring programs are no substitute for a genuine, intercollegial relationship between mentor and mentee. One piece of research, conducted by Belle Rose Ragins, a mentoring expert and professor at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, demonstrated that unless mentees have a basic relationship with their mentors, there is no discernable difference between mentees and those not mentored. All this is to say that mentoring requires rapport. At best, it propels people to break from their formal roles and titles (boss versus employee) and find common ground as people.  Read more…

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How to Be Strategic on the Tenure Track Two-Minute Tips: Short videos to help you excel in the academic workplace

Career Advice | Professional Development | Tenure | Academic Librarians

November 26, 2018

The standards for tenure are high at many colleges and universities. And those standards are only getting higher. For academics seeking tenure or a tenure-track position, that typically means long hours and extra work.

But there are ways to further your quest for tenure without overworking.

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In this Two-Minute Tip video, Fernanda Zamudio-Suaréz gives you five tips to be more strategic on the tenure track.

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A friend and fellow tenure-track professor was recently describing how busy he’s been in the past four months — giving talks around the country, finalizing a book manuscript, attending workshops, teaching two new courses. Now, he is mulling whether to add to that load by taking on the directorship of a new academic program. Why, I asked, why he was doing so much? “I’m getting ready for tenure,” he replied.

The matter-of-fact way in which he answered drove home the precarious nature of academic employment and the increasingly high bar to earn tenure.

My graduate adviser got tenure in the early 1970s after only three years as an assistant professor and with just two publications. Today, some Research I universities award tenure in the sciences only if you’ve published six to eight articles a year, or in the humanities, two books within six or seven years (one of which must “change the field”). Those tenure standards are very difficult to meet, even with a minimal teaching schedule, a sizable amount of grant dollars, and a troop of graduate students. Even at teaching-oriented institutions, the requirements for promotion are much more formidable than they used to be. But meet them you must, if you want to keep working in academe.

So how do you resist overworking when, in many instances, that is the only path to tenure?

For more, read Manya Whitaker’s article “How to Be Strategic on the Tenure Track.