JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. – The U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command’s leader professional development webinar series continued this week as Mr. Michael D. Formica, TRADOC deputy to the commanding general, and Mr. Nathan Whitaker, motivational speaker and former NFL executive, discussed the importance of mentorship in the workplace.
With leadership comes the responsibility to mentor those below you, as both Formica and Whitaker can attest to. With the wake of a new mentorship program developed by the TRADOC Civilian Human Resources Directorate, leader mentorship has become a great topic of discussion.
“The Army is a people business, and if a leader doesn’t acknowledge the aspirations of each individual on their team, there’s an essential piece of leadership that’s missing there,” Formica explained. “Mentorship can help inspire and enable their subordinates to reach their highest potential.”
As stated by Formica and Whitaker, the key qualities of a successful mentor are similar to those of an effective leader: character, trust, patience, empathy, and humility.
Whitaker elaborated on this with an anecdote on his experience working with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, where their leadership had a character-based selection process during the NFL draft. This showed just how serious a player’s character is considered during such an important process.
Along with having good character values, Formica and Whitaker emphasized the value of empathy and demonstrating a genuine commitment to support the mentee.
“If leaders operate an organization where they demonstrate their desire to help subordinates improve their competence, they will be much more committed to the organization and its success,” Formica explained.
On the quality of humility, Whitaker stated that empathy and the ability to understand that we are all flawed as humans is one of the most important parts of being a positive mentor and develops a deeper sense of trust.
“If I’m willing to own my mistakes, that’s a powerful message [to the mentee],” Whitaker stated.
Formica expanded on this, adding that “humility is a key ingredient in mentorship, because when you recognize that, as a leader, you are fallible and that you will make mistakes and learn from them, you are opening up a learning environment of trust.”
With this comes a new opportunity for both parties to learn from each other, making the mentorship mutually beneficial.
“[Mentorship] must be a two-way street. I am amazed at how much I’m learning from mentees in the process of being a mentor,” expressed Formica as he shared his experience with the TRADOC mentoring program.
Earlier this year, the TRADOC Civilian Human Resources Directorate established the voluntary mentoring program as a personal and professional development opportunity for Army Civilians.
The program, which is available across the TRADOC enterprise, offers different mentoring approaches including cohort mentoring, peer mentoring, and reverse mentoring.
Visit www.tradoc.army.mil/mentoring-portal for more information about the program and how to participate.