5 Reasons executives should become mentors

by Karla Cloete

January is National Mentoring Month, as established by Harvard School of Public Health.

Mark Zuckerberg was mentored by Steve Jobs in his early pre-Facebook days. Jobs himself was mentored by Apple's senior executive and early investor, Mike Markkula. 

Bill Gates has shared that he has often turned to Warren Buffet as a mentor and that their relationship has shaped his approach to business. 

Barack Obama met Michelle through a mentorship program at their law firm, while he worked there as a summer associate. 

Mentorship can produce powerful and successful people by nurturing and guiding talent, and big names are taking notice.

84% of Fortune 500 companies already have strong mentorship programs in place. 


Here are 5 reasons you should become a mentor this year:

1. Become more well-rounded in your industry

Mentees certainly gain some of the knowledge and skills you’ve picked up from years of experience, but that doesn’t mean you use these skills in your leadership role. As your executive role develops, you use some skills less. Teaching a mentee not only reinforces your knowledge but also sharpens your skills and helps you keep up with current developments in the industry. Mentoring is a self-reflection opportunity to look back at the trail-and-errors of your career and to draw lessons from these, not only for your mentee but for yourself.

Apart from challenging you, your mentee has their own unique experiences to share. They may come from different backgrounds and their generation may have different approaches which can serve to enrich your own work.


2. Expand your network

Mentees gain exposure to some of your top-notch connections, but they also have their own networks full of interesting and unexpected connections that they can extend to you and you can connect with your fellow mentors. These connections can provide new perspectives and broaden your circle and your point of view. 

3. A mentorship is proof of your leadership skills and can advance your career

Your mentorship role not only showcases your investment in your younger peers and their professional development but also shows you are capable of great leadership and interpersonal skills. Mentorship is a training ground for countless management skills.

Sun Microsystems studied the career progress of 1000 employees for 5 years and found mentors were six times more likely to receive promotions and 20% received higher raises. Mentorship can be a demanding role, but the rewards are indisputable. 


4. Mentorship strengthens and retains your employees retains

The time and effort you pour into your mentee make them more productive and skilled employees, which directly helps your company grow. 

Many managers lose touch with what it was like early in their careers and the struggles their employees are battling day to day. Mentorship places you in your junior employee's shoes allowing you to be more empathetic. It helps you look at your workplace through new eyes: to identify challenges, workloads and gaps in knowledge. 

According to Harvard Business Review mentorship programs: helped 84% of workers avoid costly mistakes and improved proficiency by 84%. 

Not only does mentoring make your improves better- it keeps them around. One company found that mentorship decreased turnover by 49% and saved them $2,9K per year.


Image sourced from Together Platform. 

5. Mentorship improves diversity 

While workplaces are becoming more diverse, leadership and management roles are falling behind. Mentorship is a great way to give a leg up to workers from minority groups and to improve gender equality in your workforce leadership.

According to Forbes, mentorship programmes can increase the diversity of management by up to 24%. Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labour Relations found that mentorship led to more promotions and higher retention rates for both women and minorities when compared to those without mentors.

When you step in as a mentor, you set up your employees for success- mentees are five times more likely to be promoted.


If you’re looking for ways to level up your own career and give back to your company becoming a mentor might be just the thing.


Before becoming a mentor to a younger peer, why not check out our blog about generational gaps in the workplace?


If you’d like to learn more about Atara Partners and our work in executive search contact us here.