The Importance of Mentorship

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The importance of mentorship is perhaps demonstrated best by the following occurrence in nature. In a game park in Eastern South Africa, a nature conservancy discovered 36 dead rhinos. Not only was the loss significant to the park, but the manner in which the rhinos were killed was baffling: they appeared to have been trampled. Elephants were the likely suspects, but this mystified park rangers because elephants don’t normally kill rhinoceroses.

“As park rangers explored the mystery they discovered that indeed, young, male elephants were provoking confrontation with the rhinos and killing them. The behavior was very unusual and the park had no choice but to kill the offending elephants. When they did, the vicious attacks on the rhinos stopped and a state of peace resumed between the animals. Still, the question remained: what caused these elephants to behave so savagely and uncharacteristically in the first place?”

When rangers dug deeper, they learned that all of the offending elephants had been imported from another reserve as baby elephants and were without male role models. As a result, when they reached adolescence, there were no adult males for them to follow so they became juvenile delinquents of a sort without supervision or strong role models to teach them the ways of adulthood.

This behavior was an aggressive aberration for the elephants and points to the need for strong mentorship. Organizations where senior leaders behave like Warriors are destined to create next-level leaders that don’t understand the value of mentoring either, and the ultimate future of an organization becomes jeopardized by this cycle.

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