Why you should be a mentor and not a manager
When talking to other mentors on Acadium, I encourage them to change their mindset from a manager to a mentor. When you lean into developing your apprentice by empowering them to champion a part of your business, you'll be surprised by the results.
Why leadership training makes you a better mentor
When I’m on Acadium looking for my next apprentice, I’ve noticed that the people I’m interviewing have beautiful personal stories. They share with me why they signed up to Acadium and what kind of outcomes they’re hoping to get over their three-month apprenticeships. These stories inspire and motivate me to be a mentor who gives them opportunities to grow and achieve their desired outcomes.
Unfortunately, they have horror stories too. The scary part is these horror stories are coming from previous apprenticeships. It’s disheartening to hear from apprentices who are willing to give up three months of their time to gain experience, only to be neglected by their mentor or treated as virtual assistants to only complete menial tasks.
Businesses that sign up to Acadium are looking for help in their business, but they are also committing to mentoring the next generation of digital marketers. If you see your apprentice as just someone to leverage, you’re missing a huge opportunity. Do you want to develop leaders or people that can’t operate independent of instruction? From my experience being a mentor on Acadium for almost three years, I’m convinced that if you see your apprentice as a leader rather than someone to delegate menial tasks to, you will see better results over the three months.
“Do you want to develop leaders or people that can’t operate independent of instruction?”
The first time I heard this quote, I instantly questioned my entire business model.
“Leader of one, leader of many, if you can’t lead one, you can’t lead any.”
If you haven’t read the book “Developing the Leader within You” by John C. Maxwell, I highly recommend it.
In my business, when I’m having a strategy session with one of my clients, I encourage them to develop the leader within. I believe that anyone can develop the skills to be a leader and that it doesn’t matter if you were born a natural leader or not. This mindset has helped me to have five successful apprenticeships through Acadium. These apprenticeships have allowed me to free up more time to focus on scaling my business rather than the smaller details that an apprentice can manage.
How to be a mentor who develops leaders
1. Communicate your expectations clearly to your apprentice
Communication will make or break your apprenticeship. When your apprentice knows your full expectations, you empower them to focus on doing great work. My apprentices knew how I worked and how I liked to communicate with them. They could focus their energy on projects rather than trying to understand how to communicate with me. It will be great for both their professional development and your business.
When you have a high level of communication with your apprentice they will do better work. Here’s why:
- They will have a vested interest;
- They will believe in you and your mission;
- They will enjoy understanding how their role plays into the overall project;
- They will be intrinsically motivated to grow with you.
It’s amazing the effect that clear communication with your apprentice can have on your business.
2. Be available to your apprentice
I’ve noticed that being visible in an online space like Slack or Microsoft Teams can have a trickle-down effect on my team. If, as a mentor, I make my apprentice feel like I’m not available to chat, they may flounder when confused. Don’t do this. Tell your apprentice you’ll be available to them whenever they need more clarity and commit to responding promptly.
Prompt responses from you will keep up their momentum and help them get more done for you. It will also compound the benefits outlined in the point above about communication. When your apprentice is confused and they can’t reach you they’ll get frustrated and lose the intrinsic motivation to help you and your business grow.
This is increasingly important as you scale and consider bringing on multiple apprentices at the same time. If I expect my apprentices to be autonomous on day one, I’m hindering their ability to grow themselves and my business.
3. Understand what your apprentices want from you
If you’re wondering where to start with your apprentice, schedule what I call a CEO day. A CEO day is where you listen to your team. In the same way that you communicate with your apprentice how to best work with you let them tell you what kind of development or outcomes they are hoping to get. Keep it informal and invite them to dream with you. The apprentices are likely young and at the beginning of their careers. They’re hopeful, excited, and anxious and taking time to explore what kind of opportunities could come from doing this apprenticeship is a great way to build up that intrinsic motivation.
4. Integrate your apprentices into your business
To be a leader, someone needs to be following you. When you look at who is following you in your business or on social media, you want to understand why they follow you. This helps you understand how to serve your audience and keep them engaged. This engagement can then be leveraged to grow your business.
Your apprentices are, in essence, a type of new follower. they’re a part of your team and are, therefore, an extension of you and your brand. You want them as knowledgeable about your brand as your current followers. Taking the time to educate your apprentice about your brand and the people you serve will give them a high-level understanding of your business. When they know the mission of your brand they can use their unique talents to advance it.
Each new apprentice brings new insights to the table. It’s your job to guide those talents to work best for you and your brand. The better your team, the stronger your brand.
5. Develop problem solvers
When your apprentice feels like a leader in your business they will solve problems on their own before bringing them to you. I encourage all my apprentices to come to our team meetings with questions but also possible solutions. This helps them to learn how to problem-solve and manage some of the inevitable confusion that will arise. Some of my apprentices get hang of it quickly, while others need a little more nurturing.
You will have influence as a mentor (good or bad)
On Acadium, you can be a great leader or a bad leader. In history, there are plenty of bad leaders who still had a tremendous amount of influence. This is because they could persuade people to take action on their behalf, usually with fear or coercion. They had henchmen. In contrast, the better you get at developing leaders within your business, the easier it becomes to lead a team that takes action on your behalf for the right reasons and with the right motivation. Don’t see yourself as a manager when you are on Acadium.
Lean into the new mindset of being a mentor. It changes everything.
Change your mindset from a manager to a mentor
When talking to other mentors on Acadium, I encourage them to change their mindset from a manager to a mentor. When you empower your apprentice to champion a part of your business, you’ll be surprised by the results. The apprentices on Acadium are eager to learn and work within an actual business to gain experience.
They want to show up and learn. Provide them with that opportunity, and your business will benefit just like mine has.
When you don’t mentor your apprentice, you put off an investment in your business and, in turn, yourself. The five steps outlined in this article are a practical way to get the most out of your apprentice over your three months together. keep them in mind when you’re onboarding your first apprentice and soon you’ll be writing your own blog post about your success.
Jodi-Kay Edwards is the CEO of Alignment Is The New Hustle, a business strategy and personal development brand that helps early-stage entrepreneurs start, scale and succeed in business in a flow state. Her mission is to empower entrepreneurs worldwide to share their message, live a life filled with ease and intention. To learn more about the services that she provides, schedule a call.
Ryan Carruthers is the Content Marketing Manager at Together Software, a company that builds software to help enterprise companies run effective mentorship programs within their organizations. Ryan was an Acadium apprentice and leveraged his apprenticeship experience to get a job at Together.