How a Mentor Can Empower Your Career
Having mentors has been invaluable in my career. Many famous individuals achieved phenomenal success with mentors: Oprah Winfrey was mentored by Maya Angelou and Sir Freddie Laker mentored Richard Branson.
In this article I will share some golden nuggets from my experience of having a mentor: what makes a mentor and the benefits of having a mentor. Looking back to 2013 when I started a new management role, I wish I had a mentor during the early months of the new role. Although I had several years of experience as a manager, I was unprepared for some of the challenges that came up in the new role. After several months in the role, my line manager identified an experienced manager as my mentor. My mentor had achieved a high level of management success and was able to offer me key insights and advice. I met with my mentor every three weeks over a period of 18 months. It was a safe space where I could seek guidance on any potential tricky issues that were coming down the pipe.
When you start a new job, you may find yourself in an unfamiliar environment and might feel a bit anxious. Having a mentor can help you navigate the organisation culture. A mentor can guide and support you in your new role. Here are some reasons why having a mentor in your new job help you make a smooth transition.
WHAT IS A MENTOR A mentor is usually an experienced senior professional in their field who advises and supports less experienced individual. The mentor has substantial knowledge and understanding about the organisation structure, culture, and sector.
The power balance in mentoring could be viewed as equal as the mentee plays the driving role in the direction of the two-way relationship. However, there is a risk that the experience or authority of the mentor could undermine the direction of the power balance. For example, the mentor could be a senior manager and the mentee might feel uncomfortable taking the lead on the content of the discussion.
Mentoring is well known to benefit those who aspire to climb the career ladder. This could be an informal arrangement where a seasoned professional is approached by an employee who wishes to develop expertise in a particular field.
Mentors are often part of important networks within the organisation. A mentor can help you to expand your network, open doors to new opportunities and key relationships within the organisation. A mentor can also offer guidance when you need to make those important decisions in your career.
It is important that you identify a mentor who is experienced in the specific area you wish to develop. Find a mentor who has different strengths than you have. Look for a mentor who thinks differently from you or who works in a different industry. To grow in your career, it is important that you are challenged to move beyond your comfort zone.
BENEFITS OF HAVING A MENTOR A mentor can help you identify areas for skills development and solutions on how to manage obstacles. A mentor can provide advice on whether your goals are realistic and support you in implementing effective goals. I found my mentor to be invaluable in the following areas:
A good listener. Honest and supportive, and we developed a strong mentoring relationship.
Provided invaluable advice on how to best position myself in the organisation. My mentor frequently challenged me to try new approaches.
I was able to see examples of strong management skills that I wanted to master. My mentor created an environment where I could learn.
I was able to be open with my mentor and share my experiences which helped me to grow. I received feedback on my performance.
My mentor was also my accountability partner: at each meeting my mentor would request updates on tasks that she had given me.
Having a mentor in your career can the provide the essential tools for long-term success. If your employer offers a formal mentoring program, take advantage of it. If not, be proactive and reach out to individuals who possess the knowledge, experience, and attitude that you respect. Embrace the opportunity to learn from someone who has the career that you aspire to.
I am so grateful that I had some amazing mentors during my career. Without this mentoring experience, I would not have had the opportunity to be coaching clients and sharing my mentoring experience with you! My biggest encouragement is that a mentor can help you to identify your blind spots and transform your thinking about your potential.
"A mentor is someone who sees more talent and ability within you than you see in yourself and helps bring it out of you." - Bob Proctor
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