Executive Mentoring - Why CEOs Need Mentors Too

Well, I have finally made it to the top box on the organizational chart. I am now the CEO of this great organization. I have all the answers to all the questions and there is nothing left for me to learn. This is a slight exaggeration but I think you get the picture.

Also read: Mentoring – How You Create Your Legacy

I have been working with some executives as their mentor and have asked what value we are getting from our time together. One of the very first answers is the trusted relationship and the confidentiality that goes with that.

The second is the ability to listen effectively and to know when to speak and when to listen. There are times where just talking our way through situations is all that we need and a great mentor will be able to recognize when that is the case.

Increased decision-making abilities will come from the process of talking your way through a situation. In the article, I have referenced below 69% of the participants felt they were making better decisions.

I have seen an increase in the ability to communicate more effectively after a few mentoring sessions. One of the things that I talk about in my executive mentoring process is the pausing to reflect before speaking. Thinking about how the message is going to be received before you send it. I have worked with senior people that do not have this skill set and it can disrupt the culture of the organization very quickly.

Also read: Succession Management, Leadership and Mentoring

One of the steps in the executive mentoring process is the interview of the mentor by the Executive. During the interview process, the mentor will also be evaluating the Executive to determine if there is chemistry for a mentoring relationship to begin and grow. The decision may sometimes be based on coaching versus mentoring.

Some Executives will want a mentor that has industry experience or has certainly walked in their shoes. I have found that this is a nice to have but not a need to have. I believe that it is the difference between a good mentor and a great mentor. A great mentor will get the desired results even without the industry-specific experience.

Executive mentors are great storytellers and leverage their experiences to provide guidance for the Executive. I use stories all the time in order to provide the guidance that is expected. With each story will come some dialogue where the right questions are asked to prompt some critical thinking and looking within.

Executive mentoring is rapidly becoming a process that organizations are looking for.  After all, “when we stop learning, we stop leading!”


  1. https://hbr.org/2015/04/ceos-need-mentors-too
  2. https://howwelead.org/2016/07/06/make-it-a-summer-of-learning/

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