Mentorship In An Exponential Age



POST WRITTEN BY (as Published on

John Drumgoole Jr.

Vice President Talent Acquisition Strategic Growth at Atlantic Bay Mortgage Group | Award-winning Author

Not long ago, I was seated at a counter enjoying breakfast, waiting for an early morning flight out to a business event. Directly next to me was a sharp gentleman, also finishing his meal. While watching the sports highlights on a nearby TV screen, we struck up a conversation relating to developments in the world of basketball. Eventually, the conversation shifted to business, and he asked me about the nature of my work. He then revealed he was a veteran entrepreneur, preparing to fly back to the West Coast. As I was closing out my tab, I thanked him for the conversation and allowed him the closing remarks, as I often do with seasoned professionals. I was anticipating he would give me two or three key things to put in play to enhance my chances of success in the market, but he somewhat shocked me by shaking my hand, looking me square in the eyes and simply saying the words, “Go be great.”

In times past, mentors and counselors could give you the traditional three-point plan: Start with great high school engagement; follow it up with a four-year degree, and then work your way into a nice career role. Presently, these ingredients don’t always represent the same winning formula leading to a high probability of success.

The nature of work is rapidly evolving, and individuals are increasingly looking for atmospheres that align their “why” and their paycheck. It creates a flight to purpose as millennials and Gen Z populations build their future. It’s important for leaders, managers, HR executives and coaches to gain a comprehensive understanding of the “why,” to avoid the frustration and churn that could develop within a short cycle. Sometimes, it may not be a deal-breaker if an individual’s goals and desires don’t fully align with the company’s current vision — if the organization is receptive to innovative disruption that could potentially open the door to tremendous intangibles as it scales.

Incremental thinking draws a straight line from now to a future model and focuses more on how inputs are directly related to outputs. Exponential models like Google, Facebook and Alibaba scale much faster with transformative cultures, digital technologies and employee empowerment. Even companies like Global Savings Group show the accelerated power of the couponing concept by aligning great content to consumer interests. Proper navigation of an exponential enterprise comprises a delicate balancing act of agility and control.

Here are three key benchmarks that leaders, coaches and advisors can harness to their immediate and future advantage, and approaches that HR professionals can utilize to strengthen a mentorship mindset that helps guide new talent toward significant advancement.

The proliferation of technology will cause an abundance of labor.

A 2017 Pew Research Center survey discovered that 85% of Americans may favor guidelines to limit the rise of robots in the workforce. Is this group the modern-day Luddite? Are their concerns wholly understandable?

As automation reduces the need for humans to perform many tasks, it’s best for individuals to grow their unique skill sets that add new value. Encouraging creativity pods and other avenues of ingenuity can help foster fresh waves of executable ideas that can greatly impact future advancements.

Identify insiders versus outsiders.

Economists and historians have pointed out that prior to the Industrial Revolution, per-capita income was able to double every 6,000 years. After significant advances, per-capita income can now double every 50 years. Who holds the key advantages to the next surge of economic abundance? Will the flow of wealth shift to the disrupters or largely remain with the core?

I wrote earlier this year about a rebalancing act between technology and human capital. One solution to creating multi-layered growth and equity enhancements is to foster environments in which diverse pools of talent can create more n-sided networks that connect with emerging and mature areas of the market. This could help to limit potential power struggles between perceived insiders and outsiders so that they are mutually supporting the continued growth of each other.

Manage the growth compression. 

Sometimes the mentor’s sustained growth is limited, and the mentee begins to blossom exponentially. We are in an unprecedented time in which four generations are present in the market. Fantastic technology advancements have enabled baby boomers, Gen X, millennials and the Gen Z workforce to operate at a very high level of efficiency. This creates a wealth of available talent. Knowing when to facilitate a favorable succession plan and pass the torch is key. Mentors should keenly understand and execute the proper actions and balance as to when it’s opportune to switch from dedicated frontrunner to support system.

At a hockey game I once attended, the fan behind me kept yelling, “You have to get past the first guy.” In reality, the player skating with the puck really needed to get past the second guy as well, and the picture would look completely different for that challenge. Exponentially speaking, one times one equals one, and two times two equals four, with the corresponding exponent deriving the same result. Once you get past the number two, three to the third power carries you much farther than three multiplied by three. Your first few steps toward success can be linear, but next you’ll need an exponential element.

To the next generations of talent who are present with us, and to the ones who will come after us, we say to you: Average will not be enough for sustainable success. Go be great!


About RichSimmondsZA

Retired but still Disruptive
This entry was posted in LEADERSHIP, Social Communication and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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