While retooling to fill in the gaps to take your career to the next level, consider the role mentors and sponsors can play in your life. Also, gauge how you support others in your organization, especially other women, and the opportunities you’ll have to influence and impact other peoples’ careers, helping to mold future leaders in the process, while also growing professionally.
The following piece is an excerpt from my #1 bestselling book released October 2017, Fearless Women at Work: Five Powerful Strategies to Thrive in Your Career and Life! This blog is focused on mentors–I will speak about sponsors shortly.
Mentors are crucial to helping you navigate the political landscape and work-related challenges you face daily. You’ve heard the saying, “It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.” There’s truth to that statement—although I would add that what you know will buy you staying power.
A mentor is someone with experience and seniority who, ideally, is aware in some way of your industry or field, and who also is familiar with the types of challenges you face regularly. You may already have a mentor. If you do, lean on him/her for support and guidance.
Your mentor should be someone you trust and somebody who genuinely has your best interests at heart.
A great mentor can help you navigate the landmines and mirror back to you what sometimes you can’t see for yourself and connects you to various resources and his or her own network.
For the mentor relationship to be the most effective, it’s important for the mentor to give you objective and open feedback, not sugarcoat things for you.
Let your mentors know you welcome their frank and honest feedback; show them you have thick skin.
Do not get upset when they give you feedback or argue and become defensive.
How do you get a mentor?
I call organic mentors those mentors with whom you naturally build rapport. For me, throughout most of my professional career, I built trusting, professional relationships with my managers, men and women, and they also became my mentors.
I felt comfortable asking candid questions and expressing my opinions to get their support to deal with difficult or complex situations. They gave me sound advice to handle these situations or helped me reframe the issues to arrive at solutions.
In addition to my managers, other senior leaders with whom I interacted throughout the firm became my mentors. These mentor/mentee relationships naturally developed and were grounded in mutual respect and appreciation.
I would take the initiative to stop by or schedule time to ask for advice when I needed it, and they were happy to support and encourage me.
By the way, don’t worry about labeling these organic mentor relationships. I never asked my mentors, “Would you be my mentor?” Let them evolve naturally.
Some companies offer mentorship programs; yours may be one of them. Prudential, the company I joined right out of college, did offer a mentorship program. I was automatically enrolled and met my first career mentor, Nancy. We met regularly for lunch throughout the course of a year and built a nice rapport. I was grateful that she so generously volunteered her time and energy to be my mentor.
This made a big impact on my smooth transition into corporate America, and I appreciated the knowledge she passed on to me about the company.
If you don’t have a mentor, get one or more than one, and you’ll notice a huge difference.
If your company doesn’t have a mentorship program, and you feel your manager is not suitable for this type of relationship, contact your human resources department and inquire. Perhaps someone in the organization has expressed a desire to become a mentor.
Or, better yet, look around at the senior leaders you work alongside with and start proactively building this type of relationship by engaging them on specific work-related matters, asking for their advice, and bouncing off ideas. Notice how receptive they are and proceed accordingly.
In the meantime…
Be fearless! (act despite the fear)
Dr. Ginny A. Baro is a Fortune 100 executive coach for talented professionals at all levels of management, a speaker, and #1 bestselling author of Fearless Women at Work. For more of her work, join her community to receive valuable strategies delivered to your inbox and access today for free Chapter 11 of her new book to learn how to tap into your unique leadership style, career and life ambition, earning power, and more! Read other articles on her blog, get a copy of her new book, and join her courageous conversations on GCA Studios. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
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Originally published at https://www.fearlesswomenatwork.com/single-post/2017/12/17/How-to-Leverage-Mentors-and-Support-Others