Building Mentors in the Military
The US Army is recognized around the world for its exceptional leader development programs. In fact, it has no equal. We have made great strides in counseling our subordinates to help them improve their performance. But, turbulence, budget and other policy constraints have created the need for a more personal approach to taking care of our soldiers.
The knowledge, skill and experimental requirements thrust on leaders today may well exceed our formal education system's capacity to develop future leaders capable of dealing with the complex problems they will face. As the Army shrinks, soldiers must perform increasingly more complex tasks, often in jobs for which they have insufficient experience or training. Also, soldiers must work more efficiently and produce quality work in diverse areas without benefit of previous experience or, for that matter, specific training.
Twenty-first century leaders will have to set the conditions that give their subordinates the best possible chance for success.
One of the easiest ways to do this is through mentoring. Personal mentorship between senior and junior leaders is essential in filling information gaps, and mentorship provides another avenue to help motivate, educate and guide quality people to higher levels of performance and responsibility. Leadership success in the immediate future will depend on mentoring more than any other single process.
Mentoring may be the critical missing key to help compress young leaders' learning curve. Today, there is so much to know and so little time to learn it that mentoring might be the best way to ensure future leaders' professional development. The mentor can help subordinates sort through information to identify the things that are really important.
Mentoring also is self-perpetuating. Leaders who have been well mentored tend to become great mentors themselves. The bond of trust and confidence from a...