coaching is a catalyst for growth
We’ve all heard at some point in our careers that we should get a mentor. It’s nothing new. But, can you actually think of one person as your mentor or leadership coach? Or two, or three? In reality, only 37% of professionals have mentors, even though 76% of them agree that mentors are important.
Why are mentors important? A mentor can help you navigate the complexities of corporate, or the risks of entrepreneurship, plus anything in between. Mentors who have been where you want to be can help you understand the skills you need and challenge you to reach your goals. The mentor can act as a leadership coach as well.
Mentors can be both formal and informal. A mentor is anyone who has knowledge and experience in your desired industry that they are willing to share with you to help you. They can give you leadership coaching and career advice. The best mentors will be enthusiastic to help you, transparent about the field, and honest in their feedback.
Mentors have more knowledge than you do in your desired field, and that’s why it’s critical to have a mentor. By tapping into their expertise, you can essentially be ahead of the game and, hopefully, avoid more mistakes. You can use their expertise to bounce ideas off of them and get an unbiased response. That way, you will not waste time perusing activities that they know will not work out. Plus, they can offer confirmation for when you do have great ideas. It can be hard to know who to trust with your ideas in the business world, but a mentor can always offer trusted, confidential advice.
How we see ourselves and our work is not always an accurate picture. Sometimes, we need an outsider’s perspective to get a full view of how we’re doing. That’s where a mentor can come in and be brutally honest with contrastive criticism. And, on the flip side, they can cheer us on when we are doing well. A mentor’s support can help you progress when you feel stuck and ready to throw in the towel.
Mentorship will stretch you to set goals, make deadlines and push yourself. Besides offering motivation, mentors can help you be disciplined and create boundaries for work that force you to be accountable for what you accomplish. They can also push you to develop new skills for success as well as discover tools and resources that can make your path easier.
The most natural and easiest way to grow your network is through people you already know. You can utilize your mentor’s network to help find a job, connections to clients, investors, and even talent. Ask your mentor to introduce you to people at events, meetings, or other opportunities. The pandemic does make it more challenging to meet in person, so perhaps ask if your mentor can set up a virtual coffee meet-up.
This is critical when finding a job as most positions are filled based on recommendations. Getting a job is just as much who you know as what you know. Nearly 85% of jobs are filled via networking and referrals. Thus, mentors who can connect you with others are a must in today’s career market.
The beauty of mentorship is that it runs on the pay it forward model. A mentor passes down knowledge to you, which you pass down to your own mentees, and so on. By building a relationship with your mentor(s), you will be better prepared to become a mentor yourself. Their leadership coaching will prepare you to be a leader as well. You are also more likely to pay it forward, as 89% of people who have received mentorship will mentor others.
Consider building a board of mentors, consisting of diverse perspectives and expertise to help fill in where you are less experienced. This is especially important for entrepreneurs, as you cannot do it alone! There is no limit to the number of mentors you can have. Well, other than the limit of how many people you can stay in contact with! But you may even engage with a mentor for a short-term project and then gain other mentors. There is no minimum or maximum length of time to work with a mentor. Some mentorships may last a few months, while others may last decades.
A good mentor will be excited to help you and able to contribute time to give you advice. An even better mentor will also have experiences, issues, and goals in common with you so they can provide tailored advice to you. Finally, find a mentor who will give it to you straight but will also respect your confidentiality. You need a mentor who can give you direct feedback and is a good communicator.
Before you get a mentor, make sure you are ready to commit to mentorship yourself. As a mentee, it is your responsibility to be proactive. Set up meetings with your mentor, come prepared with goals, challenges you face, or areas you want to enhance, and be accountable to them. Generally, the mentee is responsible for reaching out to the mentor first and for following up. Make sure to carve out time to meet up, follow through on your goals and commitments, and nurture the relationship through regular check-ins.
To find a mentor, first, start with who you already know. Consider classmates, coworkers, professors, family, and friends. You could even scroll through LinkedIn to get ideas. If that doesn’t work, start searching for people who are doing what you want to do. send them a message on LinkedIn and ask for a virtual chat.
If you’re looking for a mentor who can help you be a better leader, we recommend leadership coaching with close mentorship by one of our leadership coaches. Learn more at https://www.bornleadership.com.
Stephen R. Covey