Emerging leaders are encouraged to seek out mentors with life experience, professional context and tricks of the trade; however, seasoned professionals have just as much, if not more, to gain from having a mentee. If you are contemplating becoming a professional mentor, consider the below three reasons why having a mentee can be mutually beneficial in your day-to-day life and career.
Recognize hang-ups and explore solutions. Professional challenges evolve and grow in scale throughout any career, but there are fundamental road blocks that will pop up in every professional setting. For example, communication challenges, office politics or differing styles and personalities can cause friction. As a mentor with years of experience, you appreciate this friction because it often creates an opportunity for creative sparks. As you work through scenarios and solutions with your mentee, you will undoubtedly resurface great advice that can be applied to your own routine hurdles. And if you are lucky, your mentee will drum up a solution that is more impactful and different from your previous understanding altogether.
Reminder to embrace fear and failure. Whether entry-level, middle-management or in the C-Suite, fear and failure drive us all, and achieving any kind of ‘big win’ is utterly impossible without embracing the two. By helping mentees understand risk and failure as the most effective instructors, you will create more space for innovative ideas and may even recognize opportunities to take risks in your own career and organization. Also, mentees naturally emit a sense of fresh energy and momentum because they are earlier in their careers, and often have a ‘sky is the limit’ attitude! This kind of inspiration is infectious and can be the push you needed to take that calculated risk in moments of fear and analysis paralysis.
Reconnaissance of different perspectives. Mentees are often from different generations, demographics and psychographics, and they keep us sharp by acting as a conduit to cultures and perspectives we may not have experienced otherwise. Having a mentee is also like having your own personal secret shopper who lets you in on the latest popular culture references and vernacular. You will recognize trends faster, keep up with the latest communications channels and learn the unique stressors imposed upon the various populations your mentee occupies. Thanks to your mentee, you will be a smarter, more informed and empathetic leader which will inevitably benefit your career and business.
Mentorship is a shared benefit – one that is particularly impactful for women. From the pervasive wage gap and gender inequity found in most board rooms to the second shift working mothers experience, women face unique professional challenges that have yet to be fully addressed on a national or global scale. The mentor and mentee relationship builds bridges between women and allows them to learn from and support one another. This is exactly why I seek out both mentors and mentees.
My mentees especially keep me sharp and have intimately shaped my strategic vision for my company and career. They not only make me a better businesswoman, but they attach me to a bigger purpose – one that invests time, energy and resources into developing the next generation of women leaders who are eager to make a difference.
About The Author
Adina Jacobs is the co-founder and director of product for STM Goods, a global company designing, developing and producing lifestyle accessories for personal tech devices. Jacobs is also involved with various women’s organizations that connect emerging leaders with mentors from diverse professional communities.