Leaders as Facilitators and Mentors

Dr. Arlena Jung

With the increasing complexity and individuality of customer demands success has become more that ever a question of exceptional team performance. In order to deliver high quality products and services on time the resources, expertise and above all collegial cooperation of team members are necessary.

Companies and teams need leaders able to bring out the best in their employees. How can performance orientation be encouraged while at the same time establishing a climate of mutual respect and cooperation? What mindset and leadership understanding is required?

Leaders as Mentors and Facilitators

Leadership is often interpreted as being about assertivness, persuasion and bearing the responsibility for the team. Understanding the role of a team leader as that of a facilitator and mentor means seeing leadership in terms of the the ability to create a mindset in our team of performance oriented cooperation.

As a facilitator and mentor a team leader facilitates a dialog in which differences are viewed with interest and curiosity and seen as a resource for enhancing the quality of products and services.

Individual performance is continually framed in terms of its contribution to the quality of team results. Individual performance obstacles not as failures but as challenges, individual challenges not as problems of individual team members but as challenges the whole team is invited to cooperate on overcoming.

As a facilitator and mentor team leaders are not only concerned with the quality of team performance but also with the individual needs and concerns of each and every team member. He, however, does not fall into the trap of becoming the parent. Rather he manages to convey the expectation that each and every team member actively take on the responsibility of contributing to finding realistic solutions.

Striking a balance between individual interests, perspectives and team alingment is key to the leadership role of a facilitotor and mentor.

Leaders as Mentors
As a mentor leaders are interested in bringing out the full potential of each individual team member. Being a good mentor is also about striking a good balance. On the one hand I have in mind the skills my team needs from the team members in order to function as a high performance team. On the other hand I am aware of the individual inclinations of each team member. Leading as a mentor means understanding that the highest performance quality can be attained in those areas where my team members are driven by a real intrinsic motivation to achieve certain standards and to grow individually as people.

In their role as facilitators and mentors supervisors know that teams consist not only of employees but also of real people. He is aware on cognitive but also emotional level that whenever people live together, play together or work together individual sensitivities can become an issue. He is not afraid of adressing them but has a good sense of how to adress personal issues while maintaining a professional atmosphere of shared responsibility of good working solutions.