I often read articles centered on the importance of seeking out and building strong relationships with a mentor. What does that look like for a restaurateur? How can they carve out time in such a fast-paced industry? There’s no doubt mentorship is a valuable resource too often overlooked, but the responsibility for growth shouldn’t rest solely on the mentee. It’s a false assumption to think the only person benefiting from mentoring is the individual pursuing advice when in fact; a mentor can gain strides from a mentee through out-of-the-box means. As we progress in our careers, we indirectly provide ourselves with the biggest injustice by closing off our ability to learn from others, especially those early in their professions.
A mentoring relationship should be symbiotic. It’s clear to see how a mentee will benefit from a mentor, but, if the process is embraced and nurtured by both parties, it can provide fascinating insights to a mentor as well.
Tackling New Challenges Brings Firsthand Perspective
Sought-after mentors are often seasoned, professionals. They have the experience to provide meaningful and substantial insight. However, the only constant thing is change. This means the industry landscape has probably differed since earlier days for senior-level restaurant executives, who might have missed some new processes while working hard to establish their current track record. With a heavier focus on strategy and less hands-on execution, a mentee can provide a mentor the day-to-day challenges in their role, which could lead to a better understanding of what is and isn’t working. This awareness can not only bring to the surface more effective solutions but bring level-headed cognizance to difficult situations for the entire team. An open mind is crucial to great leadership.
Building Bridges Opens Unexpected Pathways
While a mentor’s vast network is engrained with well-known professionals with similar status and power, sometimes a mentee can connect a mentor with up-and-coming individuals on the horizon. A college roommate’s cousin could be the “one-to-watch”; a start-up professional who has massive potential and limited resources – an essential relationship that could pioneer innovative concepts for a mentor and the company. Don’t make the mistake of closing off a network to young professionals with great ideas. Remember, we all had the same ambitions and vigor once upon a time!
Hearing Fresh Ideas Reinvigorates Passion
It’s an inevitable truth that after so many years in the business, an inescapable and taxing toll brings itself about. A mentor might be contemplating a possible industry change, wondering what’s next in his or her career path, or even looking to retire. Listening to the imagination and desire of young hopefuls can re-spark that same passion in any veteran professional. Touch-base chats may soon become the highlight of any mentor’s work week. These chats not only remind one of what they love about the business but also create a new appreciation for their role as a mentor – a feel-good title of “teacher” to guide and help shape young minds.
Developing Professionals Establishes Reputations
Finally, a more direct advantage of becoming a mentor is extending their personal brand as a respected and sought-after thought leader. Passing down industry know-how and wisdom will leave behind a legacy in the company and beyond. Colleagues will respect a mentor’s willingness to counsel young entrepreneurs, and the team will appreciate an always open-door policy. This individual will undoubtedly become the go-to senior leader for advice, guidance and information sharing – both as a friend and mentor.
The Firefly Team