Executive mentoring is typically a trusted one-on-one relationship between a more experienced and less experienced executive. It is built on encouragement, constructive comments, openness and honesty, mutual trust and respect, and a willingness to share. There are other important elements as well – confidentiality, accountability, commitment, time and chemistry.
The right Mentor-Mentee match is gold, and like any relationship, you may not find the “right fit” on the first meeting.
Do you need a mentor?
Business leaders often refer to their mentors as a key part of their success. If you find a wise, trusted and experienced adviser, the right mentor can contribute significant value and have a considerable impact on your career performance and level of success.
Kim McGuiness, MD of Network Central, believes having a mentor allows women to build confidence, learn new skills, brainstorm ideas and build stronger networks: “Mentoring can be particularly beneficial for women as they often face more barriers than men, are balancing competing priorities and unconscious bias, and have less exposure to senior management… it also helps with understanding corporate politics and protocol.”
What can you expect from a mentor?
People who have had a good mentor report boosts to self-esteem and confidence, work promotions, improved skill sets, better and wiser relationships at work, ‘tools’ to handle difficult situations, increased industry knowledge, better networking opportunities, good career guidance and better work and personal life quality. Mentors are particularly invaluable when there are difficult challenges in your work situation, or you want to fast track your career and need a trusted person to discuss options.
How do you find a mentor?
Mentors can be found by introduction, sourcing via internal and external networks, or through organisations specialising in mentoring and coaching services. The latter offer structured programs where you get the immediate benefits of a set number of sessions, actions to complete between sessions to achieve your specified outcomes, and goal setting.
behind closed doors and Bottom Line offer structured and flexible mentoring programs to meet your individual needs, as well as networking opportunities through their business events. Our mentors are active working professionals who are willing to share their institutional knowledge and experience and challenge existing thinking, behaviours, ideas and practices.
Be strategic in your approach
Before you start looking for a mentor, it is important that you do some thinking and planning. You need to be strategic and targeted in your approach, understand what you want in a mentor, what your desired outcomes are, and research mentoring options. Two key elements to consider are that the mentor’s character is compatible with yours, and they have the level of experience and seniority you can learn from.
Women are encouraged to choose male and female mentors. Women mentors ‘get’ the challenges other women face juggling careers, family and friends, plus time for themselves. Males are valuable in that they have a different perspective and can help you understand the best ways to communicate to other males to ensure your messages are listened to.
Have more than one mentor
Jeanne Meister, partner at Future Workplaces and interviewed recently on the HBR blog, considers that people can have more than one mentor and says that many successful individuals create their own personal “board of directors”. These clever professionals identify skills gaps, such as building cultural intelligence, better innovation skills, or a deeper global mindset, and then deliberately target mentors who can help them in these areas.
Mentoring can benefit the mentor too
Mentoring can be a highly rewarding experience for a senior leader and a powerful way to give back to society. Reverse mentoring can give mentors insight into the mindset of less experienced professionals and increase knowledge in areas like emerging technologies and social media. Mentoring is also renowned for its capacity to build networks with the rising leaders of tomorrow and to identify future talent.
Becoming a mentor will help you build deeper listening skills, allow recognition of your professional abilities, further develop your leadership qualities and offer a sense of satisfaction as you guide someone on their career path.
I believe you need to have many mentors throughout your career, both male and female, to continually challenge you and encourage you to attain greater success. TIP: always keep in touch with your mentors by penning a card or letter to let them know where you are in your career journey.
Learn more about behind closed doors and Bottom Line mentoring by visiting our websites.
What is your experience with mentoring?
Warm wishes Donny