Have you ever had a mentor, or been a mentor to someone else? Did you know that having a mentor can help you to grow not only in your career but create more intentional relationships that will help you to grow personally? I have been mentored by many people, and I find that it is overall a pretty valuable and rewarding experience.
One of the most common questions that people have asked me about mentoring is ... what can a mentor help me with? People also want to know what mentoring really is, who their mentor should be, and how they can find one.
I would like to answer all of these questions and hopefully inspire you to consider finding a mentor or even offering to become a mentor to someone else.
WHAT CAN A MENTOR HELP YOU WITH?
"A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself." - Oprah Winfrey
Mentors truly can offer you guidance and advice, encouragement, exposure and visibility, networking, and even coaching. They can help you with a specific issue, or ongoing challenges that you may face in your current role. In my first formal mentoring relationship, my mentor was able to help me truly navigate through my current role and how I could position myself for a role within my organization that I aspired to grow into the longer term. Today, I am happy to say that throughout that mentorship, I applied for that new role, and it is what I do today.
So, let's talk about what mentoring is.
WHAT IS MENTORING?
According to the Academy of Management, "when an older, more experienced member of an organization takes a junior colleague “under his or her wing,” aiding in the organizational socialization of the less experienced person and passing along knowledge gained through years of living within the organization, a mentoring relationship is said to exist."
In my first formal mentoring relationship, I scheduled our meetings and created the agenda topics, so I was able to ensure that I was getting out of the relationship what I put into it.
WHO SHOULD MY MENTOR BE?
Michelle R. Ferguson, SVP of Global Business Services for McGraw Hill Financial, was co-founder of their mentoring program. In a Jam Session for the Ellevate women's network, she shares how to find, build and maintain a successful mentor partnership. She said that the best mentor relationships are filled with two-way learning and reciprocation. A mentor can help you with many things, but it's important to choose the right mentor. According to Ferguson, "a mentee is in the driver’s seat and needs to take the lead. That includes scheduling the meetings, coming up with an agenda and being specific about the goals. A mentorship is a two-way exchange. It’s a way to trade best practice ideas and experiences." Although mentoring can be a powerful relationship, it can also be a not so rewarding experience if you choose the wrong mentor, such as your manager. It's difficult to be extremely open and honest with your manager about certain challenges you may be facing with work, especially when part of your challenge may be their management style.
HOW CAN I FIND A MENTOR?
You can find a mentor in many ways. If you're not part of a formal program, you can individually seek a mentor. As Kathy Caprino writes in Forbes, "find great mentors through the inspiring people you're already interacting and working with now. They need to be people to whom you have already demonstrated your potential – who know how you think, act, communicate and contribute. And they have to like, trust and believe in you already (why else would they help you?). They also need to believe with absolute certainty that you’ll put to great use all their input and feedback..." "...Find your mentors among the people you know who are 10 steps ahead of you in your field, role, or industry, doing what you want to, in the way you want to. Connect with new people who you can help, and who will find it a mutually-rewarding and beneficial experience to support you. If you don’t know of any inspiring people that fit this bill, you need to go out and find them."
Mentoring relationships can help grow your network and your professional skills. Finding a mentor can be simple by taking a look at some of the current relationships in your life, people who you admire, and who you can learn from. Asking someone to mentor you is actually a wonderful compliment, and one of the greatest ways to receive ongoing, honest feedback from someone that you respect and look up to.
"The best way a mentor can prepare another leader is to expose him or her to other great people." - John C. Maxwell
Now, I'd love to hear from you. How do you think mentoring can help you, and why is this important for you right now? Leave your thoughts below directly in the comments.
Brittanni Below, MBA is a coach, speaker, and trainer based in Houston, TX that provides services to help fierce and self-driven women to live a more balanced, healthy, and more fulfilling life. By fully understanding your unique talents and gifts and what is distracting you from being successful, Brittanni helps you transform fear, lack of confidence, and life challenges, into lessons that push you to crush the goals that you've set for yourself. If you're interested in personal coaching, book a session with Brittanni here.