Mentors are supremely important to an aspiring leader. They are the voices whose feedback reaches our heart and head. They are the steady hands that firmly hold us accountable to our own potential. They are the polishers of our conscience, the magnifiers of our potential, and the encouragers of our self-worth.
Mentors, in short, matter.
A survey of Fortune 500 companies found that 96% of executives credited mentoring as an important development tool, and 75% said mentoring played a key role in their career success. Benefits to being mentored include:
Planning and achieving career goals.
Improving and expanding your network.
Understanding the culture of the organization, its practices, and the strategies needed to negotiate them.
Handling people at all levels and perhaps understanding particular people or clients you are working with.
Developing interpersonal skills.
Proactive dealing with issues and day-to-day problems.
Making you more capable to manage your current role and future career.
Know Your Responsibilities
As the mentee, you must know what you want to achieve from the relationship and set goals. It is important to clarify your expectations of the mentor and create a schedule for meeting with the mentor. It is your responsibility to drive the relationship!
Choose a Great Mentor
Many employees and managers complain about not having a mentor. Such people are usually waiting for the company to assign a mentor to them. But mentoring works much better when the mentee takes responsibility for choosing a mentor. The first place to start is: get yourself a mentor!
Five key characteristics of great mentors are:
Content Dragon: Look for someone that others respect. A mentor should be someone who can be looked up to as a role model of the company’s values and ideals.
Broccoli Pointer: A mentor is someone who is capable of pointing out embarrassing things about how you are “showing up” at work. Think of it this way, if you came back from lunch with broccoli in your teeth, a mentor wouldn’t be shy about pointing it out!
Independent Loyalist: While a mentor is someone who is loyal to the company, he shouldn’t have drunk so much of the organizational happy-juice that he can’t think independently. Pick a mentor who has a mind of his or her own.
Storyteller: A great mentor is a master storyteller. When you’re struggling with an issue, your mentor should willingly share a story about a similar struggle that he faced in the past.
Lifelong Learner: Pick a mentor who constantly strives to be a better leader himself. Ask the mentor who he or she considers to be his or her mentor(s).
Are you ready to get started? Then take the first steps!
Seek out someone, establish a schedule, and invite them to be a part of your personal growth.
Remember, it is the mentee who drives the relationship! Set goals. Create a schedule. Accept feedback. Most of all, be committed.
About the Author
Bill Treasurer is founder and Chief Encouragement Officer at Giant Leap Consulting (GLC), a courage-building company that exists to help people and organizations live more courageously. He is the bestselling author of Leaders Open Doors, Courage Goes to Work, Right Risk, and the Courageous Leadership workshop. Learn more at http://billtreasurer.com.