Harry had Professor Dumbledore. Rocky had Mickey, and Luke even had Obi-Wan.
These classic duos illustrate those enviable human relationships, serving as inspiration that someone is in our corner. So many have often searched for someone who will be our cheerleader for the long haul, building us up and being that go-to person for advice and that boost of confidence.
In those situations, solid mentor relationships were built, and because of them, we witnessed an unlikely champion from Philly, the defeat of Voldemort, and the galaxy saved from the Evil Empire.
To think…what might have happened if our famous heroes didn’t have mentors?
Mentors unlock our potential, but it’s a two-way street
The same can be found in our careers. The topic of mentors has been deeply studied, and in some organizations, mentor partnerships have become a standard and formalized deliverable with assigned mentors and team leaders. It’s a proven benefit to supporting new employees, new to the work world, or simply new to a company. At one time or another, most workers could have used someone to talk to who understands the industry they are in, the challenges they face, and who can help guide their choices – a person who doesn’t have a direct connection to their salary or promotions!
But being a good mentor or a good mentee is a deliberate endeavor, one that can bring positive outcomes to both careers.
Making yourself available in a mentor partnership
“The delicate balance of mentoring someone is not creating them in your own image, but giving them the opportunity to create themselves.” — Steven Spielberg.
If you have an innate disposition to want to be of service, being a mentor in your industry is a good start. This can be through a work program or personal connections within your network. Mentors can reach out, too. If you notice on your LinkedIn that a person took a new role in your industry, message them to let them know you are available.
Traits of a good mentor and why it’s good for you, too:
- You have industry knowledge to share and are excited about seeing someone succeed.
- You can be discreet and assume total confidentiality.
- You can lead a productive meeting that leads to deliverables.
- You can help strategize and set goals.
- You are timely and reliable, keeping up with check-ins and holding your mentorship partner accountable.
- You can listen, provide a truthful perspective, and talk through concerns with your partner to empower them with decision-making.
- Your guidance can help your partner succeed and strengthen a company – a win-win for all.
- You can help provide visibility to partners who previously may not have had a voice at the table.
- You can learn something about yourself during your interactions, especially how to relate to people.
“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself.” Oprah Winfrey
Seeking out a compatible mentor and holding up your end of the bargain as the mentee.
As the heroes that came before us, they had the strength and the ability to accomplish their goals, but they didn’t always know it. It took mentoring a person who believed in them and their willingness to put all the cards on the table with truthful and honest information for our heroes to digest. But the heroes needed to be receptive. And, they had to play an active role in the mentor partnerships for all that time and energy to be worthwhile.
What does this entail?
- Look within your network for a person you would find has an interesting perspective. Reach out to them and inquire if they would have an interest in working with you one-on-one
- Be timely and attentive. This is a business relationship as much as it is personal. Block out time for meaningful conversations.
- Be ready to discuss goals and strategies. Your mentor is a sounding board, but conversations should be productive, not necessarily complaint sessions.
- Be an active listener. Your mentor is providing feedback on your concerns. While sometimes it may not align with what you were thinking or something you actually want to hear, understanding a new perspective is important.
- A mentor can offer insight into things you might not anticipate because of their experience. While we are taught to learn from our own mistakes, having a mentor can sometimes help us avoid unnecessary pitfalls.
- A mentor can open doors for you. They have expanded networks, experience in the industry, and built connections. Mind those opportunities and make a great impression.
- Be involved. Gather as much knowledge as you can and put it into practice. It’s free advice but also invaluable.
An important thing to remember is that mentor partnerships don’t have to be finite; they might simply evolve. Building a successful mentor partnership means that you have created a lasting connection in your professional and personal worlds. When the regularly scheduled meetings begin to dwindle, that may be a great sign that a mentee has grown, successfully navigating their work-world, and a mentor had a hand in that.
At SSi, we have a proven record of connecting people in the work world as they search for the right opportunity and place where they fit. To learn about new opportunities where you might very well find your own Morpheus, visit the SSi job board.