Not leadership but mentorship

Olubunmi Okolosi, founder of Kajola explains why two-way generational mentorship can solve the leadership problems of today.

“Leaders share the harvest of their success to help build momentum for those around them.” - Glenn Llopis

In the first episode of season two of one of my favourite shows, Game of Thrones, Jeor Mormont the 997th Lord commander of the Nights Watch says to Jon Snow “You want to lead one day? Then learn how to follow”. As blunt as it may seem that quote is as black and white as you can get when it comes to leadership and a typical example of old school thinking. I use this as a starting point in my argument because Jon Snow gives a brisk two finger salute to Joer and does his own thing. What I’m about to argue is that the future leaders of our industry aren’t ready to lead in the way people in business once were taught how to lead. This is because the current leaders are stuck within a way of thinking that is behind our times and they themselves need mentoring to aid the development of the future leaders.

There is a way to ‘learn’ how to be a leader and I believe mentorship is the answer. When it comes down to it leadership should always start and be built around the notion of ‘mentorship’.

Within Hospitality everyone is saying that there is a lack of future leaders! Why? People pin point the old workforce vs current vs future or the baby boomers vs GenX vs Millennial vs GenZ and the incompatibility within the workforce and how we learn. Simon Sinek is a person the corporate world often refers to when it comes to ‘modern’ thinking and he truly is brilliant and when I watched his video on millennials in the workforce last year I thought – I know this already, my point isn’t to highlight what he said, my point is to highlight it took the corporate world 9 months to start talking about it. This to me highlights why we may have an issue in the future, our current leaders are slow to adapt. The baby boomers and GenX say there is a leadership problem and for me it starts with them and the best way to bridge that gap is for them to go and be mentored by a Millennial or GenZ to understand them. This will aid the development of today’s current leaders and nurture those for the future. By mentoring I’m not just talking about someone from the same industry but outside the world of hospitality.

Why can’t a Millennial mentor a baby boomer on why they think like they do?

Mentoring is defined as a personal developmental relationship in which a more experienced or more knowledgeable person helps to guide a less experienced or less knowledgeable person. Now who better to teach the less experienced or less knowledgeable baby boomer or GenXer what we think now and in the future than the millennial and the GenZer? Why can’t a Millennial mentor a baby boomer on why they think like they do and how that impacts on how they can nurture leadership ability? Why is it so often the other way around?

Mentoring can often aide a person’s development at a quicker pace than learning on-the-job. It can provide enlightenment both in business and in one’s personal life. At the same time, I find that mentoring someone isn’t way most people think it is. If you truly open yourself up to your mentee you can also use their experience or be inspired by their input into your mentorship of them.

If the leaders of today spent more time focusing on understanding and learning from the leaders of tomorrow instead of focusing on company profits and maintaining the current model we wouldn’t be having this type of argument – instead we would be talking and walking together to combat other challenges that are more difficult to fathom than better human interaction.