Great Intern Mentors Are Likely to Become Superbosses

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One of the biggest challenges facing companies today is engaging its worker; one solution is to understand the characteristics of a very special group of leaders, who Sydney Finkelstein calls “superbosses”, and nurture them to do what they like to do – engage and grow their team.

In Superbosses: How Exceptional Leaders Master the Flow of Talent, he focuses on exceptional leaders whose interpersonal style, intuition, innate curiosity, rough-and-tumble entrepreneurial energy enables them to identify, motivate, coach and leverage others so their protégés grow faster. These leaders are unusually intense and passionate about their businesses, look fearlessly in usual places for talent, interview them in unconventional ways; they create improbably high work standards that push protégés to their limits and engage in powerful mentoring and coaching to help them be the best that they can be. Finally, when they see success, they encourage protégés to do what’s best for their own self-development – including leaving the company, if appropriate. In sum, they are very different from bosses, who, even though skilled managers, often tend to demotivate employees, slow their growth by engaging in counterproductive interpersonal behaviors, including gossiping, backstabbing and inappropriately claiming credit for others’ successes.

Who are some of these “superbosses”? People like Lorne Michaels, Ralph Lauren, Jay Chiat, Larry Ellison, Bill Walsh, Bob Noyce Miles Davis, Michael Milken, Julian Robertson, Gene Roberts, George Lucas, etc.While their styles are often very different (e.g., some are fierce vs gentle, belligerent vs self-deprecating, what counts is that their commitment is to nurture protégés.

As you know, through Mentoring Internships, we encourage companies to offer “mentoring Internships” to students who want to learn more about their career options, their own skills and preferences, and how to navigate the world of work. Our programs we help companies build self-sustainable systems that provide the company with high ROI for the company, mentors and interns.  Our experience with many of the people who volunteer to become Mentors – something which takes extra time, dedicate and commitment – while doing their jobs (no extra compensation is involved) – is that these Mentors often are developing similar leadership profiles to these superbosses.

If you’re committed to developing superbosses, read the book and identify those leaders who Mentor others (interns or staff), because they may become your next superbosses, and give you a group of future leaders who will engage your employees, at lease while you’re providing them with sufficient challenge and opportunity for growth!