Where to look and how it can benefit you
Mentoring’, and the role it plays in one’s professional life, has grown in recent years.
There continues to be a lot of conversation about how a Mentor can help you propel yourself to the next stage of your career and how they can impart a wealth of knowledge onto you, to help you navigate your career path. The emergence of the ‘mentor’ means that many of us want one, but how do we find the right mentor for us?
What is a mentor?
Mentoring is a long-term relationship that will provide the mentee with a safe environment for sharing professional and personal secrets and successes. This is not to be confused with the role of a Coach, where the focus is on key skills’ development such as effective management, problem-solving, strategic thinking, communication skills etc.
A mentor is trusted advisor that can help to build one’s skillset through the study of past experiences and learnings, but it can also be so much more than this. There is so much for both parties to gain when an honest and open relationship is established, and utilised in the right way. The crucial questions to ask are; why do I need mentoring? What is it about my current professional life that I’d like to improve or rectify?
Who could be a mentor?
There is a more traditional notion that a mentor will be two or more levels above you and able to offer you sound advice and counsel on how to progress within your career. They will also pull the curtain back on some of the industry’s unwritten rules that might help you get ahead. So yes, this is the most common mentor relationship, but it isn’t always the case.
Often, you will have mentors amongst your peers without noticing. These are colleagues who are at the same level as you, or perhaps they joined the business at the same time as you. They will motivate and encourage you, spotting opportunities and keeping you accountable to your goals and aspirations. If you were to think back, there is almost certainly a time when you would have fulfilled one or more of the above. This form of mentorship is often the most underestimated, but it can be the most powerful!
The least – and most unexpected forms of mentorship – is the ‘reverse mentor’. As we go through our careers, we’re always in pursuit of gaining knowledge from our seniors, but as we get older, society changes. So, it’s equally important to look to the youth of today, to understand these changes. It’s essential to understand and be conscious of the different trends, movements and behaviours around us, and that’s where your reverse mentor comes in!
There is also a lot to be said for mentors who are many years your senior. Those who have been there and done it and are best placed to take an elevated view of your situation and offering strategic guidance on what your next movement should be. They can also provide access to a more senior network that could open doors for you at a later date.
Take, give and learn
With all of this in mind, it’s important to note that soaking up all of these learnings – from whomever you choose to call upon – will not only benefit you, but those who choose to mentor. Mentorship is a two-way street, where experiences are offered and received. Take the learnings from those around you, but make sure you share yours – they could be incredibly valuable to someone. If this is something that appeals to you, why not further develop your mentoring skills by enrolling in mentoring courses that focus on becoming a business mentor, or to learn mentoring techniques.
Lastly, and most importantly, let’s not forget that often the best person to call upon when you’re facing a dilemma, is yourself. What we mean by this, is that you have so much information at your fingertips – such as books, podcasts, or presentations – that you can become your very own self-mentor. Do whatever you have to do to grow your knowledge. Mentors may be great for help in certain situations, but you don’t always have to seek encouragement from outside, because more often than not, the answers are within you. You just need to ask yourself the right questions, to find them! You have the right to choose what you believe, so be the one believing in yourself.