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The Role of a Manager vs. Mentor: Navigating Leadership Development

Happy New Month!


Over the next few weeks, we will be focused on leadership development in healthcare 👋 As we dive into the world of leadership and growth, there's a topic I've been itching to address – the distinction between a manager and a mentor. The statement "Your manager is not your mentor" might raise a few eyebrows, but hear me out – it's time we uncover the truth behind this dynamic.


We've all been there – that pivotal point in our careers when we seek guidance, support, and insights to become the best versions of ourselves. Often, we find ourselves looking up to our immediate superiors, hoping they'll lead us toward the path of professional enlightenment. But let's break it down: a manager can indeed mentor, but a mentor, in the truest sense, doesn't have control over your performance or outcomes. And while mentoring is one of the acts that your manager can perform, please do not mistake them for your mentor.


Here's the real scoop: As leaders in healthcare and beyond, we often wear many hats – coach, advisor, supporter, and yes, even mentor. But it's crucial to understand the nuances of these roles to foster the most effective growth.




The Thin Line and The Art of Nurturing Growth


Imagine yourself as a leader in a healthcare institution, and one of your team members confides in you about their anxiety when presenting. You provide an example of how you overcame your presentation anxiety and decide to help them overcome this challenge. So you start by providing feedback on their presentation during one-on-one meetings and suggesting ways to improve. However, yo


u start to feel nervous when they present because you know that this is an area they struggle with. As a result, you begin assigning others to present to mirror what you want your team member to develop. You provide books and even send them to courses to get better however, there are just a few areas they seem to stumble. Despite all your efforts, they still don't seem to improve in your eyes. The question is: are you mentoring, managing, or coaching? Here's another way to look at it - Who initiates discussions more frequently to seek improvement: you or the team member?


You were coaching instead of mentoring, which was not what the team member needed. And let's throw in a bit of managing dust because now this anxiety has been converted into an area of performance improvement. See how quickly that went downhill



It's easy to get caught up thinking you are mentoring especially when the lines between mentor and manager seem blurred. But here's the real magic – recognizing that as leaders, our primary focus is to help our team members excel in their roles and reach their full potential. We're here to coach them through their tasks, advise them on their journey, and support them as they navigate the professional landscape.


Building Stronger Leaders, One Role at a Time


So, how can we strike the right balance between mentoring and coaching? It's all about awareness. When we approach situations with a clear understanding of our role, we can better serve our team members. Use the coaching hat for task improvement, performance optimization, and skill-building. When you take on the role of a mentor, focus on personal growth, broad insights, and life lessons. It's best to mentor someone outside of your direct oversight.


Remember, folks, it's not about diminishing the value of mentorship – it's about channeling it effectively to foster growth. Our healthcare institutions thrive when we lead from a place of engagement, passion, and clarity. A healthcare leader's journey is about inspiring and empowering our teams to excel, learn, and evolve.


So, the next time you're tempted to merge the roles of boss and mentor, take a step back, assess the situation, and consider the impact of your approach. Let's continue to build healthcare environments where leadership is about coaching and propelling each other towards greatness.


Stay inspired, stay dedicated, and remember – the road to leadership is exciting and filled with countless opportunities for growth and transformation. 🌟



Founder, Chief People Strategist

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