Mentoring Others Pays Off

Mentoring and coaching others turns out to be more than just good Karma. A recent study of high-potential employees, Leaders Pay it Forward, found that those who mentored or coached less experienced colleagues advanced their careers and earned more than their peers who did not invest in developing others’ talent.

Unsurprisingly, having received help or sponsorship makes managers more likely to do the same for others. And it turns out that women are more inclined than men to invest in helping others. Sixty-five percent of women who received career development support are now developing new talent themselves, compared with fifty-six percent of men. And despite the queen bee myth that women don’t help other women (think of Sigourney Weaver’s treatment of Melanie Griffith in Working Girl), seventy-three percent of the women providing mentorship are providing it to other women employees. “This report dispels the misconception that women’s career advancement lags behind men’s because they don’t pay it forward to other women. It shows that women are in fact actively helping each other succeed,” said Ilene H. Lang, President & CEO of Catalyst. “The notion that women executives are Queen Bees who are unwilling to support other women needs to be put to rest.”

The benefit of helping others is not limited to additional compensation. Helping others develop their talent and career path builds the capacity of one’s team or organization to work more effectively and productively. In addition, an essential element of management and leadership is delegation, and in order to delegate, a manager needs to be able to trust the capacity of those to whom she is delegating to work independently and perform well. Offering support and guidance helps develop talent that the manager can then rely on, and it builds a relationship of mutual benefit to both parties, which is inherently stronger than a one-way benefit.

So whether it’s Karma or gratitude or enlightened self-interest, the take-away for both women and men  is that it pays back to pay it forward.