Burns-Saraiva (n.d.) noted the following:
I think mentoring is an understanding between two or more people. It is a way for people to learn from each other. Even though most think mentors are older, I think it's a bond and no matter age, race, or gender, it’s a way for people to communicate! (Para. 1)
The notion of acquiring a role model is often advised to anyone seeking to achieve personal or professional success. This notion stems from the idea that if you are the smartest person in a group, you need to find another group. Generally, people grow when guided by others with greater knowledge and experience. However, pundits who rally around role models and mentorship often focus on formalized mentorship as postulated by Burns-Saraive. Conversely, there are informal ways of acquiring role models. Informal mentorship may be applied out of necessity or convenience. Celebrities, chief executive officers, and prestigious individuals receive numerous requests from budding entertainers, entry level managers, and aspiring scholars asking to be coached or mentored. The time and attention needed for mentorship often is impractical for potential mentors. As a result, entry and mid-level managers have to create their own system for professional development and advancement. The charismatic leadership model is the essential leadership model where personality, tenacity, and persistence are the standard traits for achievement. Managers lacking the connections and exposure to attract the help of esteemed mentors should study the benchmarks and templates demonstrated by charismatic leaders. There are a few ways of gaining information and strategies of charismatic leaders to serve as role models.
1. Choose charismatic leaders in a chosen profession. Although similarities exist between charismatic leaders in general, following a charismatic leader within your chosen profession makes every act relevant and visceral. As an entry level manager, you can learn a great deal about charismatic leadership from basketball great Michael Jordan. Jordan’s personality, work ethic, and steel determination led the Chicago Bulls to winning six championships. However, more relevant charismatic biographies for corporate managers might be Oracles’ Larry Ellis or the late John Delorean. History is replete with charismatic leaders in every field who transformed the conventional thinking of their day. Reportedly, Alexander the Great was influenced by the hero in Homer’s “Iliad.” Julius Caesar and Napoleon Bonaparte were believed to have been influenced by Alexander the Great. Historical heroes can become role models for corporate managers. William Duggan in his book “The Art of What Works: How Success Really Happens” suggested that if a concept or strategy worked in the past, with some tweaking, it will work again in the present.
2. Become a self-reliant, independent learner. Although charismatic leaders are viewed as “People Persons,” they create and develop many of their ideas in isolation. Thomas Edison spent an inordinate amount of time in his laboratory before inventing the incandescent light bulb. In Dean Keith Simonton’s “Greatness: Who Makes History and Why,” he postulated that Albert Einstein professed that his work did not lend itself to social interaction. Einstein Reportedly said, “I am a horse with a single harness, not cut for tandem or teamwork…for well I know that in order to attain any definite goal, it is imperative that one person should be thinking and commanding (p. 388). The downside of paternalistic or maternalistic mentorship is that it deifies the fallibility of human beings. Although mentors are valued resources, they still can err in judgment. Any template or benchmark should serve as mere suggestions and guidelines. There still exists a great deal of testing, trial, and error no matter how acclaimed the mentor.
3. Use current technology to lead as well as influence. Traditionally, mentors were used not only to learn from, but to gain access to privileged social circles. Although nepotism and cronyism still exists, technology and the Internet have created opportunities to gain information as well influence industries like no other time in history. Charismatic leaders become an army of one before the rest of the population has caught on to an idea. Twenty-two year old Molly Katchpole started an online petition against Bank of America (BOF) after discovering that BOF would begin charging a $5 monthly fee on debit card transactions. After a month, 306,000 people signed Katchpole’s petition causing BOF to reverse its decision to levy the monthly fee. The Internet and social media have allowed individuals to lead crusades that would have required enormous human capital once upon a time. Use technology as a conduit for nurturing self-confidence.
The experience, education, and contacts of mentors are invaluable for entry and mid-level managers. In a social world, relationships will always be important. For the manager challenged with attaining resources from a mentor, the strategies of charismatic leaders will not only help attract the aid of a mentor, but create the mindset and independence to place all resources in its proper perspective.
Burns-Saraiva. K. (n.d.). Role models and online mentoring. Women & Girls Techup. Retrieved from : http://www.techup.org/mentor/mn_rolemd.html