Beyond Authority: Great Leaders Act Like Mentors (and You Can too) 

A recent study shows that for 70% of people, the leaders’ and managers’ impact on an employee’s mental health rivals that of their partner – and surpasses both their therapist and doctor. That’s a powerful weight to carry as a leader or manager. But it’s also an incredible opportunity to positively influence employee well-being . 

UKG Study

Why is it important? Because 78% of employees report that stress negatively impacts their work performance. Conversely when people enjoy positive mental health, 63% express commitment to their work and 80% report feeling energised, benefiting the business as a whole.  

At The Human Edge, we’ve dedicated ourselves to unlocking human potential through effective mentoring since 2008. Through our experience, we’ve learned that the same qualities that make a great mentor also define a great leader or manager. Leadership, much like Mentoring, isn’t about issuing commands, it’s about empowering growth.  

Think about the last time you felt truly supported and positively challenged in your own growth. What qualities did that person possess? They probably weren’t just barking orders or micromanaging you. They were likely creating a safe space for you to explore your ideas, offering guidance without dominance, and celebrating your successes along the way. These are all qualities that align with effective leadership that positively impacts well-being. 

Leaders who embrace a mentoring approach foster open communication, psychological safety – the feeling of being able to take risks without fear of punishment or humiliation – and a sense of connection, all crucial elements of high-performing teams. When employees feel truly seen, heard and valued, engagement soars, innovation flourishes, and that coveted “mental health advantage” becomes a reality. 

Here’s a leadership secret most manuals won’t tell you: People don’t just crave direction, they crave connection. 

But how do you translate these mentoring skills into tangible leadership actions that  promote wellbeing?

Ask yourself some honest questions: 

  •  What kind of impact do I have on my team? How are they feeling?  
  •  Do I create a space where my team feels comfortable sharing ideas, even if they’re different from mine? 
  •  Do I provide clear and constructive feedback that helps my team members grow? 
  •  Do I celebrate their wins, big and small? 
  •  Am I intentional about helping them develop their strengths and address their weaknesses? 

Here are some ideas to nurture connection:   

  • Become a master of active listening. Pay close attention to what your team members are saying, both verbally and nonverbally. Ask clarifying questions and paraphrase their thoughts to ensure understanding. 
  • Provide specific and constructive feedback. Focus on both strengths and areas for development, offering actionable steps for improvement. Celebrate their wins, big and small. 
  • Embrace a growth mindset. Let your team members know that you believe in their ability to learn and grow. Encourage them to take on new challenges and experiment with different approaches. 
  • Empower your team. Give them ownership over their projects and decision-making. This fosters a sense of responsibility and builds confidence.

Effective mentors help their teams see how their individual contributions connect to the organisation’s bigger picture, fostering a sense of shared purpose. 

At The Human Edge, we offer a variety of solutions to bridge the gap between leadership and mentoring: 

  • Bespoke Programmes can be tailored to your specific needs, equipping your leaders with the tools to become effective mentors within their teams. 
  • Mentoring Skills and Practice Course provides a practical framework for building trust, giving constructive feedback, and fostering a growth mindset – all crucial elements of effective leadership. 
  • Running Effective Mentoring Programmes equips your leadership and development professionals with the knowledge to design and implement impactful mentoring initiatives within your organisation. 

The impact you have can extend beyond your team. A study by Gallup found that employees who strongly agree their manager cares about their well-being are three times more likely to be highly engaged and twice as likely to stay with the organisation. Investing in your leaders as mentors isn’t just about employee well-being, it’s about unlocking the success of your team and thus,of your entire organisation. 

Are you ready to create a culture of growth and empowerment? Let’s start a conversation. Contact The Human Edge today and see how we can help your leaders become the mentors your people crave.