We require the help of experienced persons while undertaking various projects or assignments. However, even though we want guidance from our seniors, we do not want them to decide the process. Freedom coupled with guidance is the requirement of every employee.
This guide can be a mentor. A mentor is an evolved leader. A leader commands, while a mentor directs. A leader is a part of the process; a mentor is a catalyst, who guides without being part of the action.
Each employee has to be nurtured with the help of a senior person who is experienced in that particular skill. This system of mentoring has taken strong roots in today’s corporate training structure.
For instance, Narayana Murthy is now officially designated the chief mentor of the Infosys Group. We may have a good mentor around us. But we should know how to benefit form their company and experience. The Arthashastra gives us various tips,
Accept his authority
“Training and discipline are acquired by accepting the authoritativeness of the teachers in the respective fields” (1.5.6).
The junior needs to have an attitude of surrender to his mentor, his Guru. Initially it may seem difficult for a novice brimming with ideas.
However, accepting the mentor’s authority helps build discipline. The person should be able to accept that the mentor understands the subject better than he does. At times it might be difficult to accept his decisions, but he still needs to follow them. The full picture will become clearer in due course of time.
Being in the company of the mentor gives a practical insight into the theories one has heard about management.
“He should have constant association with elders in learning for the sake of improving his training, since training has its root in that” (1.5.11).
Trying to associate with the mentor’s thoughts, ideas and way of thinking is very essential.
This helps develop a ‘mindset’ required for the job.
Being in the company of the mentor gives a practical insight into the theories one has heard about management. The basics of any training is to improve oneself. This will happen in the presence of the mentor.
Keep learning and applying
“(From) Continuous study ensures a trained intellect, from intellect (comes) practical application, (and) from practical application (results) self-possession” (1.5.16).
Finally, one has to keep applying in one’s own self-efforts what he has learnt from the mentor.
Continuous study helps one to develop the intellect. Then he has to test his intellectual understanding by applying it in practical situations.
Once he sees the results, he gets convinced about his knowledge. Now he has mastered the field. In fact with the help of his mentor, the theory and practice have become one.